1. Freezer Saviour: having frozen vegetables on hand means you can use them for soups or quick stir-fry’s, freezing does not compromise the nutritional value of the vegetables. Once you have made an abundance of food, (and I encourage you to make larger batches of food when you can) freeze the leftovers and use them on those days you don’t feel like cooking. Quiches freeze well, as do beans, burritos,pastas, chilis, stir-fry’s and soups! Frozen fruit can be used for smoothies, and can be incorporated into a fruit crumble dessert, or atop your morning oatmeal. Whatever fruits are going soft in your fridge, can be frozen and used later (bananas, berries, mangoes). You can also make and freeze waffles, pancakes and muffins for a weekend brunch or breakfast for your kids (if you have em’).
2. Keep the Basics on hand: Staples like flour, herbs, spices, mustards, grains, vinegars and oils store well and can be used in many different recipes. If you need a no fail recipe for vinaigrettes, here are some recipes and ratios to follow. If you know that you use ginger, garlic, onions, carrots, celery or sweet potatoes often in cooking, stock up. Beets, potatoes, onions and cabbage are great to have on hand when you don’t have any fresh veggies to use. If you have a regular supply and make sure to restock it efficiently, you’ll be able to save time and the stress of last minute shopping. Canned items such as beans, lentils, canned diced tomatoes, coconut milk, fish…etc help make very easy meals when you don’t have much time to go shopping for fresh ingredients. Canned lentils with some chopped parsley, yellow pepper, cherry tomatoes and feta will make an easy and filling lunch! Add some olive oil and lemon, salt and pepper and its’ ready to eat. Here’s another great recipe for you with chickpeas. Canned tomatoes and coconut milk can be added to soups, stews and sauces. For some more condiment ideas check this out.
3. Buy a Digital Timer: you don’t have to stand over the stove waiting for the rice to cook, step away and set a timer. Return to check on the grain or soup when it needs to be stirred so the bottom doesn’t burn. Time the exact seconds, minutes or hours needed for a cooking process. Many come with a flip-out stand and a magnetic backing, so you always can keep them handy. Some can be clipped to your belt if you need to leave the kitchen. Others come with a string to hang around your neck.
4. Soups! Especially in the winter these can be quick meals in themselves. Gather whatever veggies you have on hand. Start chopping onions and garlic, toss in some spices and throw in chosen vegetables and dried or cooked beans add 2/3 of the pot with boiling water or broth. If you are using water, you will need much more seasoning or soup mix. Miso paste is great for this, and has amazing health benefits. Here’s a recipe using back up items that you can freeze for later.
5. Menu Plan: Reducing trips to the supermarket, a menu plan reduces impulse spending. Using leftovers efficiently cuts food waste, while planned buying in bulk makes it easy to stockpile freezer meals at reduced prices. It also saves time. No dash to the neighbors for a missing ingredient, no frantic searches through the freezer for something, anything to thaw for dinner.Lastly it makes you healthier, and you can make use of leftovers. For example, if you make stir fry on monday, on Tuesday you can use the leftover brown rice for a burrito bowl topped with avocado, black beans with lime, cilantro and yogourt. If you have specific dietary requirements (grain free, soy freee, dairy free etc) check out this amazing resource for recipes and ideas on how to meal plan for your specific needs.
6. Chop up vegetables as soon as you buy them: ever wonder how grocery stores get off selling chopped up squash or swiss chard as if they just invented it in a package? Actually, many people find it much more convenient to buy pre cut, chopped and washed vegetables. I often find that if I have lots of vegetables sitting in the fridge unchopped- I can get a little intimidated by them. However, if I have time I can pre chop or peel my vegetables so the next time I open the fridge I’ll be more likely to use those veggies since the hard part’s already done.
7. Frozen Garlic and Ginger: my mom taught me this trick, basically place 10+ garlic cloves in the food processor, and then store in ice trays, once frozen remove from tray and place in ziplock bags in freezer. When a recipe calls for garlic, heat some up in the pan and voila! Here’s a blogger who shows us how to do it
8. Clean as you go: instead of having to clean up an intimidating pile of dishes, you can wash the dishes that you are done with. Also, take a plastic bag and cover a bowl with it. Use it to dump the scarps of onion peel, or squash seeds so that you don’t have to keep running back and forth to the garbage. The other option I’ve heard is to place newspaper peeking underneath a cutting boards, and use your knife to gather the scraps to the edge of the board. When you are done, fold up the newspaper and throw it away with the scraps. I think my version is neater..Here’s what a scrap bowl looks like in action, and you can put the scraps in a compost bin. To learn how to make your own compost bin attend this workshop in Montreal’s eco quartier, more info on composting in Montreal.
9. Involve others: family members, partners or roommates are encouraged to be included in the cooking process: helping hands save time and is a good excuse for conversation and sharing. I know many people who try and kick their kids out of the kitchen, because they’re afraid their kids or spouses will make a mess or they will be less efficient with them around. Although my own mom took the knife away from me many a time, to show me the “correct” way to chop vegetables– by getting my hands dirty and watching the process unfold, I was able to learn how to have confidence in the kitchen.
Here are some kitchen themed Holiday Gifts/Wish List
Share some of your time saving tips in the kitchen, and whether you compost at home….
with love n greens,