Saturday, January 22, 2011

Do- Ahead Food Prep

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog.

One thing that helps to speed me up in the kitchen is to do as much chopping, shredding and cooking ahead of time as I can. Then all I need to do is pull everything out and assemble the dish. I love doing this!

I use the freezer to store already prepared items that can be used in a snap. Some things I prepare ahead and store are;
-shredded cheese
-shredded carrots(for cake and muffins)
-chopped onions
-chopped celery
-sliced or chopped green peppers
-browned and crumbled ground beef, sausage or bacon
-cooked and cubed chicken or turkey
-cooked beans (kidney, garbanzo, pinto)
-prepared chicken broth(from cooking the chicken)

I also will prepare dry mixes for cornbread, pancakes, etc. so all I have to do is add the wet ingredients. Whenever I bake cookies, bars, muffins or cupcakes, I will go ahead and wrap them individually or in twos and put them together in a box in my freezer. When packing lunches, all I have to do is grab something out of the box and it is all ready.

There is less mess when you prepare things ahead as you only have a mess once! You can also clean out your produce bin by chopping and freezing those things that freeze well. This saves money by not throwing old produce away. Always mark your little ziploc bags; you won't believe how much some things can look alike once frozen! I usually freeze shredded cheese in 1-2 cup portions, because that's what would work for my recipes. I freeze shredded carrots in 2 cup portions, since that's just right for my carrot cake recipe.

Doing my food prep ahead of time definitely works for me! Every so often, I get to the place where I have to start totally from scratch for a meal, chopping veggies and cooking meats. I can't believe how long it will take just to prepare a simple casserole! I would much rather invest a few minutes here and there and work ahead and enjoy the ease of quick cooking!

No comments: