Quick meal tips that save you time
When you have
to cook, you need all the help you can get. These quick meal tips can help make your quick meals even quicker!
Put 3 or 4 onions in a food processor at a time. Chop them all up, then store them in a covered container in the fridge. They can last a very long time. When you need chopped onion, it is all ready.
1 small onion = 1/4 cup (60 mL)
1 medium onion = 1/2 cup (125 mL)
New York, USA
Here's one of my favorite quick meal tips: buy multiple sets of measuring spoons and measuring cups. When I am racing through a recipe, I don't want to stop to rinse or wash a measuring cup. Having several sets lets me grab what I need and keep cooking. (It doesn't take any longer to wash two cups than to wash one!)
Cook 4 or 5 cups of brown rice and put it in the fridge. This is great for quick stir frys, adding to broth for veggie and chicken soup or serving with broccoli and cheese for a quick meal.
If you often find yourself cooking with a toddler on one hip, invest in a set of flat-bottomed measuring spoons. If you use this one of my quick meal tips, you'll be able to measure and add your ingredient using only one hand!
When boneless, skinless chicken breasts are on sale, I buy large quantities and cook it all in a large crockpot. Once it has cooled, I dice some and freeze for casseroles, and I thinly slice the rest and freeze for use in wraps or sandwiches. I freeze the chicken on cookie sheets to keep it from sticking together, and then transfer it to large ziplock bags.
For those who don't have a dishwasher:
Run hot soapy water before you start cooking. When you're finished with a dish or utensil, put it in the sink. Most items will have time to soak and washing dishes (many peoples' most hated chore) will be a lot quicker.
When I chop vegetables (like bell peppers, onions or carrots), I chop more than I need and freeze the rest. Then I always have those items prepared and I can cook quickly. It also helps avoid having those items "go bad" in the
crisper drawer and saves my grocery money.
I freeze root ginger and then grate it into recipes. It freezes well, and it grates very quickly when frozen. Your fingers can become rather cold though!
Collect a supply of recipes for
last minute meals
that you can have on the table in 20 minutes or less. Keep the ingredients for those meals in a special cupboard. When you need a quick dinner, you'll have everything you need!
Discard the little lid with holes in it on your spice jars - at least for those spices that you usually need to measure. I find that the only spice I regularly want to sprinkle is paprika - for all the other spice jars in my drawer, the holey thing just got in the way and slowed me down. This one of my quick meal tips speeds things up!
Another of my favorite quick meal tips: to cut homemade pizza, use kitchen shears! (You can also use regular scissors.) This is much quicker and easier than cutting pizza with a knife. It results in a neater piece of pizza, and doesn't leave scratches on your pizza pan!
Put a few sheets of newspaper under your cutting board. Push the ends and peels onto the newspaper. When you're done, simply wrap up the newspaper and throw it away or dump the scraps into the compost pile. You're left with a nice clean countertop and sink!
Here's one of my quick meal tips that you may find surprising: When making mashed potatoes, don't peel them! Choose thin-skinned potatoes, scrub them well, and just leave the skins on when you boil and mash as usual. You won't lose the fiber and the nutrients that are in the skin and you'll save lots of time. The mashed potatoes will taste just as wonderful as ever, and you'll get used to the brown flecks!
If you insist on peeling your potatoes, get out a large colander. Put it on your work surface and peel the potatoes over it. You'll be able to carry the colander of peelings to the compost pail or the garbage can without having to first scoop them out of the drainhole in the sink!
Brown several pounds of ground meat at one time, drain, and cool. Place about a pound (or less) a in freezer bag and freeze. This has proven to be a real time saver when using recipes calling for browned ground meat.
I'm embarrassed to tell you this, but I used to use garlic powder in place of real garlic. (As all of you real cooks know, garlic powder is not even a pale imitation of the real thing. Even the bottled pre-minced garlic isn't as good as a freshly squeezed clove.) I had the idea that using real garlic was hard and time consuming. I was wrong! The secret is having a good garlic press - I like the Zyliss brand - and rinsing it immediately after using it. (If I'm rushing through a recipe and don't want to stop to rinse my garlic press, I put it in a glass of water until I have a moment to clean it out.)
Time consuming side dishes, like mashed potatoes, can be made in large batches and frozen, then reheated for busy nights. Make double or triple batches of your favorite freezer friendly meal for dinner and freeze the extra batches for quick meals later.
(For more freezer meals, recipes and quick meal tips visit
When you are cooking pasta, cook some extra (al dente) and keep it in a covered container in the fridge. It's handy to have on hand to toss into soups, or to eat for a quick meal.
New Brunswick, Canada
To save time with cooking meats, I buy in bulk (usually chicken), skin the chicken, then place each piece in an individual ziplock baggy and freeze them. That way the next time you want meat you don't have to pry it away from
the other frozen pieces - it's right there in a bag for you!
I invested in a silicone pastry brush for greasing cake pans and cookie sheets. I just dribble a bit of oil on the pan, and spread it with the brush. It's quick and neat.
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