Some of the short cuts and hints you may already know, but it has made my life just a tad bit easier so I though I'd share...I'm just that way!
- Buy ground beef or turkey in such an enormous amount that the butcher or sales person will raise his/her eyebrows at you! I purchase about 5-6# at a time. After you lug it through the door of your home, brown it right away (or soon thereafter). Yup, grab the biggest pot you have and brown away. After draining it, let it cool a little bit. Place the browned meat in a container with a lid. Throw it in the fridge....but don't forget about it. The next day, divide it up in freezer storage bags or if you have a handy-dandy vacuum seal machine use that! Why wait until the next day, you ask...well, I found out that if the meat is cold, it works better in the vacuum seal thingy. The juices don't squirt out at you. Stack the bags flat in the freezer. Pull one out of the freezer when making sloppy joes, tacos or a casserole which calls for browned ground beef/turkey. This saves an enormous amount of time when preparing meals.
- I have frozen sloppy joes, hot chicken sandwich filling and mashed potatoes. Here is what I do. I get out my regular size muffin tin, spray w/non-stick cooking spray and fill. Stick the tin in the freezer. When the food is frozen, pop it out of the tin and place in freezer storage bags or a freezer container. These make perfect person size portions. And a quick meal when you don't know what else to have for lunch or supper!
- You just made fresh, homemade, delicious cookies. IF you happen not to eat all of the cookies in two days, you may want to try this. Place a piece of bread...yes, bread...in the container with the cookies. The bread will become hard and the cookies soft!! Yum!! This also works on over-baked cookies that are just too hard. Place the bread in the container right away and you'll have hard bread and soft cookies. If your cookies are not hard, do not put bread in the container...the cookies will get way too soft. Just place the bread in there when the cookies start to become a little hard.
- Speaking of cookies, if you make cut-out-cookies (i.e. Christmas cut-outs) and you have little helpers wanting to frost and decorate, here is what I did. If you have the time, make the dough one day and place in the fridge (my recipe tells me to so I obey) overnight. The next day, roll out the dough, have the little ones help with the cookie cutters and bake. The NEXT day, decorate. Yup, my nerves could not handle all that "help" in one day. When decorating with little ones or big messy ones, give each a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides). Tell everyone to frost and decorate their cookies in the pan (one cookie at a time of course). This is keep the mess in the pan and off of the table and floor. It is a miracle, I tell 'ya!
- Spaghetti. Did you know cooked spaghetti can be frozen? Who knew?! I had to make a large quantity for a group of 30. I made waaaay too much! Seriously, way too much. It was eat spaghetti for supper for the next two weeks, throw it out or freeze it. I choose freezing. I placed a family size serving of spaghetti in freezer storage bags. When I was ready to have a meal of spaghetti again, I just went straight from the freezer into a pot of boiling water. The great thing about this was it was ready in a short amount of time! It was already cooked so it just needed heated through. Blam-o, it was done!
- Making blueberry muffins? Dust the blueberries with a small amount of flour before placing in the batter. I have no idea how this works, but it keeps the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffin. It works, really. I just don't know how! :)
- Baking pie. Makes your mouth water, right?! If you are like me, I can't see spending money for one of those aluminum/metal things that you place around the edge of the crust while baking. My dad gave me this little tip. Take an aluminum pie tin and cut the bottom out of it...leaving about an inch of the bottom. Invert the pie tin with the hole in the middle on top of the edge of the pie your about to bake. It does the same thing as those expensive ones! I usually put it on the pie right away and take it off about the last 10 minutes or so. It works great and lasts a long time. When it finally gives out, just make yourself a new one.
Now it is your turn. What are your time-savers, short-cuts or hints? I'd love to learn your tricks!