Saving Time in the Kitchen: 10 Cooking Shortcuts for Busy Moms

Jan 30, 2014
Christina Cherrier

kitchen shortcuts for busy momsWe all know that cooking from scratch is the best way to get healthier and balanced meals on the table every day, but it can quickly become an hassle, especially on busy weeknights. But whether you’re baking, roasting, chopping or sauteeing, there are plenty of ways to prepare dishes quickly and save time in your kitchen. Whatever your cooking skills, these ten shortcuts and tips will make every step of preparing a meal, a dessert or a breakfast more efficient, and ultimately more rewarding!

Softening butter
Waiting for cold butter to soften when you’re ready to bake or to spread on your slice of bread can seem to take forever. Shred the amount of butter you need on a grater over a bowl. The little strips will soften way faster than a solid block. Your butter will be spread ready in no time.

Make your own breakfast and baking mixes
Do you really know what kinds of ingredients are in a packaged baking mix? It takes just minutes to mix up your own, label it and stash away in your pantry. You can whip up a special breakfast mix in a snap : Just combine dry ingredients for your favorite pancakes or muffins recipe, transfer to a Ziploc bag, and write the recipe on the front with permanent marker before storing in a cool, dry place.

Toast nuts in your microwave
Did you know that you can toast nuts in the microwave? Spread 1/2 cup of shelled walnuts on a microwave-safe plate. Then cook in the microwave at one minute intervals at full power. Repeat this process for 6 to 8 minutes, mixing nuts between each interval to make sure they were cooking evenly.  You’ll obtain a crisp nut, with a toasted flavor, and delicious aroma.

Instant marinade
If you’re in a hurry but don’t want your chicken breasts taste bland, here’s a tip for a quick marinade: Add olive oil to a rimmed plate or a shallow dish, sprinkle some grill seasonings, or any spice mix you want on the oil. Add freshly ground pepper then place the chicken breasts, pork chops or fish fillets, coating them on both sides. Let sit until ready to go onto the grill or the skillet.

Freeze your extras
You can freeze most casserole dishes before they’re baked. Since casserole are easy dishes to put together, double your favorite recipe, freeze one, and your dinner is taken care of for another weeknight.

Use your ice tray
There are so many uses for ice cube trays that we should write a post just about that! You can freeze homemade pesto, sauces, vegetable juice, stock, tea or coffee for future use. Freeze completely and then break the cubes out and store them in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Perfect for quick a smoothie or iced coffee! You can also freeze fat products like compound butter: You just have to pop out a cube of Cafe de Paris Butter and let it melt on your steak.

Chop veggies on sunday
Cut up your vegetables ahead of time, then store them in glass containers in the fridge, or freeze in plastic bags. This is helpful with things like onions, scallions, leeks, carrots, radishes… Then you can toss your pre-cut ingredients on a wide variety of meals. Not only your save time, but you don’t have to dirty up your knives and cutting board anymore.

Quicker scooping
Maybe you noticed that seeded tomatoes often make better-tasting, more flavorful sauces, salads, and salsas. Prep your halved tomatoes faster by using a melon baller to scoop out and discard seeds. Not only is the utensil easier to handle than a knife, it also eliminates the risk of wound, making it perfect for kids to help.

Hack a soup can
Buy a soup from a box or can then customize adding more veggies and ingredients to it. This works also pretty well with dehydrated soup mixes or instant noodles.

Quick cutting board cleaning
Afraid of relying on chemical products for cleaning your chopping board? Sprinkle a little coarse salt on the cutting board and then squeeze some lemon juice over. Rub the salt and lemon juice with the halved lemon around the stains. The antiseptic qualities of the lemon juice will help with disinfecting. Then sprinkle some baking soda over the lemon juice and rub gently with a kitchen towel. Rinse the lemon juice and baking soda from the cutting board under lukewarm water. Pat dry and then air dry. You cutting board is cleaned!

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