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7 Simple Cooking Shortcuts

7 Simple Cooking Shortcuts

What type of paid assistant would be the most helpful to you with all the roles you juggle? We recently put this question to moms who follow Circle of Moms on Facebook, and "family chef" was voted right to the top, second only to "house cleaner." Unfortunately, we can’t provide everyone with a personal cook or maid, but we can round up smart  shortcuts for simplifying and speeding up kitchen tasks, courtesy of Circle of Moms' savvy food and food allergy bloggers.

1. Pre-Chop Veggies

“I like to cut up my veggies ahead of time. . . . Then I store them in glass containers in the fridge, which look pretty and are enjoyable to use, instead of plastic bags, which can get kind of sticky. This is especially helps with things like green onions, which can be tossed on a wide variety of meals. –Kristen Moore of Spice of Life

“I like to keep onions cut up because I use them for nearly every dish I make. It makes for less mess and more efficient prep time.”  –Sarah Ellis of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes

2. Pre-Set Your Rice Cooker at Night

“Setting my rice cooker to finish cooking steel cut oats in the AM! I set it at night and it's hot and ready for a quick breakfast at 7 a.m. Also setting my rice cooker to finish cooking in the morning so I can make sushi for lunch boxes." -Jennifer of The Toddler Cafe


3. Cook a “Big Batch” Recipe Weekly

“Making big batches of food, like rice, stir-fry, chili, or soup, so there are lots of leftovers to be heated up for lunch (or a quick dinner) for the rest of the week. One of my favorite ‘big batch’ recipes to make is pasta with homemade meat sauce. My kids actually thank me every time I make this, which warms my heart. They also like eating leftover pasta and sauce for breakfast!” -Anne Marie Nichols of This Mama Cooks

4. Invest in a Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker

“The slow cooker! Most any soup or stew can be made in the slow cooker. Place all ingredients inside in the morning and it will cook itself and be ready when you are.” -Marino Delio of Yummy Mummy (Marino’s slow-cooker recipes include Tortilla Soup, White Chicken Chili, and Pulled Pork Sliders.)

“Definitely the pressure cooker. At one go I can cook rice, vegetables, lentils and beans and even some meats in different containers stacked one on top of the other in less than half an hour. Sometimes I even add the seasoning to the lentils, beans or meat so the dish comes out ready to eat. This way I manage to do the prep work for two or more meals at a time." -Anu Rao of Allergy Foodie

5. Use Pre-Packaged Soups as Bases

“One shortcut I love is buying soup from a box or can and then add more veggies to it. For example, buy a box of Pacific Red pepper soup, add your own veggies and serve atop pasta, quinoa, or brown rice. An easy meal that is delicious!” -Sabrina Granniss and Sioux Wimler of Crunchy Bits


6. Cook a Night in Advance

“I cook today's dinner the night before. Walking in the door after a long day of work with two cranky kids is never fun. It's even less fun if I have to do a meal from scratch and the whining reaches the level of an opera soprano (that's the one with a really high pitch). So I cook Monday's dinner at the same time as Sunday's. Monday, after we've all eaten, I make Tuesday's dinner while the kids play and so on. It's never anything fancy, but doing it this way takes a huge amount of stress out of my day.” -Janine White of Eat Something Else! Encouraging the Resistant Eater

7. Freeze, Freeze, Freeze

“I make ahead full entrees or sauces (pesto, red sauce) and gnocchi. That way when dinner arrives or I am away at work my family can grab a meal/or I can make a meal on the fly.” (Related: 7 Freezable, Make-Ahead Dishes)

"Cooking the meats for casseroles is always the most time consuming part for me. To save time, I always fry up a big batch of ground beef and ground sausage and boil a big batch of chicken. Then I place 2 cups of the cooked meat (which is about 1 pound) into Ziploc bags to store in the freezer until ready to use.” Lori of Jazzy Allergy Recipes

“Make a big batch of pizza dough on Sunday, separate and roll out individual crusts, and parbake them. At that point, they can be stored in the fridge for a few days, or the freezer for months." -Janine White of Eat Something Else! Encouraging the Resistant Eater

Related Reading

A 3-Step Guide to Meal Planning

5 Healthy, No-Cook Breakfasts for Busy Mornings

5 Inexpensive Snack Ideas

Image Source: via Circle of Moms staff

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