cooking shortcuts

image credit :realtarotrealpeople.wordpress.comThis is less than exciting, but it’s how I keep myself from saying a lot of bad words out loud at the end of the day. We have a few easy shortcuts to getting dinner on the table. It’s not just a way to speed up getting dinner on the table – it’s also one way we reduce food waste and manage to keep our grocery bills low. We can keep eating from our garden all winter long. It’s also great if you find onions and peppers on sale – buy enough to keep you going for a while. We keep the veggies chopped in baggies in the freezer. I chop them individually and combined in mixes. Mirepoix mix is one we rely on a lot.

Mirepoix is the impressive sounding french word for chopped carrots, celery and onions in a ratio of 50% onions, 25% carrots and 25% celery. I assemble all the necessary components, run them seperately through my food processor and mix it all together in a big bowl in the approximate proportions.  I usually freeze 1 or 1 1/2 cups in each freezer bag, label the mix and the amount, lay them flat on a cookie sheet in the freezer until they are frozen, then stack them away in a little corner of the freezer until they’re needed. It saves time in chopping and washing up. And I really do say less bad words in my head. Mostly.

The same basic idea can be used for freezing individual veggies – I freeze chopped green, red and jalapeno peppers, onions, and just about anything else. If the stuff in the veggie drawer is starting to look a little dicey, I chop it up and throw it in the freezer for later use. I usually freeze them on a cookie sheet for a few hours and then scrape them into a freezer bag for storage afterwards – it helps keep them from all sticking together in a clump. I’ve even done it with fresh spinach that I knew I wouldn’t get around to using. I can always hide it in a sauce or pasta dish later on. The peppers, onion and spinach are great to sprinkle on pizza before cooking.

Don’t forget that you can freeze whole tomatoes too – keep them in freezer bags and run them under hot water for a few seconds until the skin slides off, then use them in any cooked dish that calls for canned, stewed or diced tomatoes.

Linking to Cups by Kim, A Pinch of Joy, Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms, Frugally Sustainable, Sorta Crunchy, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl

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21 thoughts on “cooking shortcuts

  1. I do this too! I don’t do the mix like you but I love to fill my freezer with farmers’ market stuff. Today I got a scary amount of spinach for almost nothing and I will freeze almost all of it. I love posts with tips like this by the way :)

  2. I really wish i had a bigger freezer. I can’t wait to move out of this tiny apartment. I totally forgot you could freeze a whole tomato! I just threw a bunch of them in the juicer and drank them, because they were starting to turn into smoosh. Great ideas!

  3. Shira says:

    Great tips! Thanks!

  4. Sherry says:

    Oh, I am totally loving the tomato idea! Thank you!

  5. Excellent post! So helpful! A big THANK YOU!!

  6. I didn’t know you could freeze whole tomatoes! Also I thought you had to blanch veggies first and wasn’t sure how long or how o do each different kind of veggie so I haven’t done this. It sounds so easy though and I’ll be doing this starting now. Thanks for posting the tip. :-)

    • you’re welcome – I just do this for veggies we are going to use in cooking sauces, etc. you don’t have to blanche onion or peppers for that. And even spinach – I just chop it and freeze and throw it on pizza or in pasta sauces, etc. Same goes with zucchini – I shred it and freeze it felt in baggies and hide it in sauces or use it to “beef up” ground beef dishes.

  7. Bebe says:

    I always feel so happy with my forethought and efforts when I do this… lol. Same with when I stick something (anything?) in the crockpot at the beginning of a day. It does make meal prep so much easier and I have even surprised myself when I *find* a bag of chopped peppers or onions in the freezer that I forgot I had done. Actually, I forgot I’d put a pork roast in the crockpot last week, until I was trying to figure out what to cook for dinner! Yeah, I’m that random sometimes.

  8. This is such a simple, neat idea. I don’t know why I don’t think of these things, but thankfull, you did! I have chopped up green peppers and froze, and I do freeze whole tomatoes from our garden. Pull ‘em out in the winter for soups, spaghetti, whatever. Right now, I have 6 bags left from last summer! But I like your idea of chopping the veggies and throwing an assortment together in a baggie and freezing, great shortcut and time saver. Oh yeah, and people used to tell me you had to blance tomatos first… not true! Geesh.

  9. ibcgalveston says:

    Very smart idea! Thank you for sharing.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  10. tara says:

    Great ideas. This will be our first year with a garden and I am going to figure out how to preserve. This is a great post. It would be awesome for a new blog party I am starting this Monday at Simply Made Home called “Make Your Move Monday.” I would love to see posts like this from you that would encourage others to live both naturally and simply.

    Tara @ http://simplymadehome.blogspot.com/

  11. [...] Lightly Crunchy   has tips on what to do with fresh vegetables to save time and avoid waste. [...]

  12. Cassandra says:

    What a brilliant idea!! Would seriously save that extra bit of time and dishes, especially on busy nights.

  13. [...] crust that we top with cheese, pizza, leftover cooked meat that we keep chopped in the freezer and chopped veggies from the garden that we keep in the freezer (or fresh, when the garden is going full-force). We [...]

  14. I hate throwing out food – with some of you ideas I can eliminate that

  15. [...] 1 bag of chopped jalapeno pepper, for the freezer [...]

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