Whenever you have years of experience with something, you come across some tricks of the trade- either things you’ve developed yourself or things others have taught you (in real life or online). I’m not one to hog good ideas, so here are some of the things I’ve thought up or borrowed from others.
- After using an ingredient in a can and you have leftovers, be sure to put them in a different container before refrigerating (like canned tomatoes or corn). The ingredients in the can (if opened and exposed to oxygen) get contaminated inside. Jarred items (in glass or plastic) can go right in the fridge.
- If you use tomato paste and there’s some leftover from the recipe, portion out 1 Tablespoon amounts onto a piece of parchment paper and put in the freezer until solid. Then put in a freezer-safe bag or container and the next time you need tomato paste, it’ll be fast and easy to get the right amount since most recipes call for even Tablespoons of tomato paste.
- To save money and have fresh produce on-hand, consider buying in bulk and prepping then freezing certain things. I do this at Costco with red bell peppers since I love cooking with them and they end up being around $1 each at Costco versus $2 or so at my local grocery store. I buy the 6 pack of peppers then immediately chop them up when I get home and freeze in a gallon ziplock bag.
- Buy meats in bulk and freeze. You can either do this with a big package then portion it at home for how it makes sense or you can buy 1-pound packages of meat. Either option is fine. For things like pork tenderloin, figure out how much a standard portion is for your family and then have that be the size you divvy it up into. For us with 2 young children, 1 pound tends to do nicely.
- Buy shredded cheeses in bulk and freeze. The cool thing about shredded cheese is that you can easily break off a piece if you need to cook with some and it defrosts rather quickly in the fridge, on the counter, or in a cooking pot. Since it’s likely to spoil fast if kept in the fridge, we always freeze ours. We can get a huge amount of mozzarella, cheddar, Mexican, or Parmesan cheese and save oodles of money by freezing it. (We love cheese in this family!)
- Buy butter in bulk and freeze. I picked this up from a former job’s customer. I was cleaning her fridge and bottom freezer and notices that she had butter in the freezer. A great way to stock up on sale (or if you just don’t use it fast enough) so that you won’t run out. Cooks use a lot of butter.
I’m sure there are more things that I do subconsciously for cooking hacks, but these are the main ones that I do/use and they not only help our family eat better but they also make the process not so tedious or time-consuming since I’ve already done some of the work before the cooking has even begun.