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Your favourite shortcuts when cooking from scratch

14 replies

Polestar50 · 09/12/2019 19:59

Work and young family mean that my partner and I don't cook much from scratch anymore. I am getting very bored of pasta with ready made sauce, baked potatoes or something from the freezer with side salad, which is what 90% of our meals seem to be now.

We are both veggie (eat some fish) and used to cook things like simple chillis, stir fries, stews and bakes etc. All involved a lot of veg chopping.

I remember reading about some good shortcuts on here before but can't find the threads. I'd especially love some ideas on how to speed up general prep.

So far we are planning to:

  • Pre chop and freeze onions.

Is it best to sauté them first or just chop and freeze?

Other veg- what else freezes well? I'm thinking things like finely cut carrots and pepper for stir fries?

Are the bags of frozen pre chopped onions and veg any good or is it better to do your own?

  • Start buying ready minced garlic and ginger. Frozen or jars? Any brands better than others?

  • Buy a slow cooker

Do you have any other tricks up your sleeve you'd be happy to share??
OP posts:

Jodie77 · 09/12/2019 20:08

I love pre cut veg. The onions can be a bit soggy if you don't cook the water off afterwards.

Can you batch cook?


squishee · 09/12/2019 20:44

Cook rice and pasta in the microwave.
Pre-cook potatoes in the microwave before crisping up or roasting in the oven.
Batch cook roux sauce for macaroni cheese, and soup.
Roast cauliflower / carrots / most other veg with miso marinade.
Give buckwheat groats a try.


WeirdPookah · 10/12/2019 08:28

I make my own vegetable sauce, based off a Jamie Oliver recipe but I adapt it each time and batch cook a load. 3 servings of vegetables in each portion and can become pasta sauce, enchilada sauce, go over roasted vegetables with veggie sausage depending on how you jazz it up.


RhymingRabbit3 · 10/12/2019 08:32

I buy frozen onions from asda and theyve always worked well in any recipe I have made. They are evenly chopped and dont make my eyes water so better all around.

I also buy feozen pre chopoed butternut squash and sweet potato which works nicely.

Peppers dont freeze very well because of the high water content. They work OK in a stew or something, but I dont think they would be very nice in a stir fry - they go a bit soggy.


handbagsatdawn33 · 10/12/2019 11:10

I pre-cook a large batch of onions until soft & golden brown, then freeze in portions.
I buy ginger and garlic pastes in jars - they can be found separately & mixed. They keep for ages in the fridge & save a lot of preparation time.
I also batch cook tomato sauce & freeze in portions; useful for so many different dishes - including no sugar, low-salt baked beans.


GraceVanPelt · 10/12/2019 12:28

I don't freeze chopped veg because I bought a gadget by Zyliss, it chops everything for me in no time at all. You don't have to plug it in, and it's easy to wash - I think it's called an Easy Pull Processor or something, when you pull the cord you spin the blades to chop the food. I use mine all the time!


PurpleDaisies · 10/12/2019 12:31

We are both veggie (eat some fish)

Please don’t call yourself veggie if you eat fish. It makes other people think they give vegetarians fish as a veggie option. You’re pescatarian.


PurpleDaisies · 10/12/2019 12:33

I use the jars of garlic and ginger you find in the world foods section of the supermarket.

Batch cooking and freezing has made the biggest difference to busy life.


JayeAshe · 10/12/2019 12:37

If you intend to chop a lot of onions, first cut them in half, peel, and zap them in the microwave until they soften, stops the risk of tears.


AnnaMagnani · 10/12/2019 12:38

Frozen veg.
Frozen herbs and chilli.
Jars of chopped garlic.
Discovering the existence of garlic powder.


PurpleDaisies · 10/12/2019 12:40

Garlic powder (and onion powder) is amazing! Had forgot about that.
You can also freeze whole garlic and ginger then grate/crush what you need straight from the freezer.


Localher0 · 10/12/2019 12:49

Yes to frozen chopped onions. Waitrose also so a mix called soffit to which is onions celery and carrots - can be used for loads of things.
Cook a massive pot of brown rice, cool quickly in running cold water then spray with an oil mister and freeze in portions.
To cook pasta - bring to boil in pan then put lid on, take off heat and leave for 10 mins. Doesn't save time but saves you having to watch it over boil (or is that just me??)
Slow cookers - mmm they're ok but loads of recipes need pre cooking/browning but if you're veggie perhaps that doesn't matter much.....
Get a one tin cook book and pre-prepare some trays for mid-week.


Azzizam · 10/12/2019 12:51

I freeze all herbs and snip them with scissors into stews and curries. Never had any probs and yes to frozen onions. I use a lot of frozen veg, chopped up bits of quorn, tins of butterbeans etc in stews. It's not the greatest thing but TVP makes an ok midweek Bolognese)chilli type dish.


AnnaMagnani · 10/12/2019 13:04

Oh yes, The Green Roasting Tin cookbook.


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