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Kitchen Shortcuts for Busy Cooks

Most home cooks could do with a little streamlining when it comes to getting dinner on the table every night. When you’re cooking from scratch, there are plenty of ways to multitask. These tips and tricks will help get a good meal on the table — even on busy weeknights. Whether you’re chopping, roasting, stewing or baking, here are some great timesavers, and ways to get a head start on another dinner while you’re at it.


  • Make your own mixes 1 of 10
    Make your own mixes
    Baking mixes are undoubtedly timesavers, but who knows what kinds of ingredients are in a packaged mix? It takes just minutes to mix up your own and stash away.
    Try this easy multigrain pancake mix!
  • Assemble extra to freeze 2 of 10
    Assemble extra to freeze
    Most baked casserole dishes can be frozen before they're baked. Double your favorite recipe, freeze one, and dinner is taken care of for another night!
    Get the recipe from Simple Bites
  • Mix up a batch of meatballs 3 of 10
    Mix up a batch of meatballs
    They're simple, versatile, and kids love them. Make a big batch of meatballs on one night, and freeze the rest for quick meals on another.
    Get the recipe from Family Bites
  • Pull out the slow cooker 4 of 10
    Pull out the slow cooker
    A slow cooker does all the work (or most of it, anyway), creating a meal that tastes like it simmered all day — because it has!
    Try this classic beef stew
  • Roast two instead of one 5 of 10
    Roast two instead of one
    It takes exactly the same amount of time, energy (in the oven), and effort to roast two chickens as it does to roast one. Use the second for a jump-start on dinner another night.
    Make roast chicken
  • Mix up a batch of pizza dough 6 of 10
    Mix up a batch of pizza dough
    It freezes well, so you can make one pizza and freeze enough for a second, or double the batch, divide it in four, and freeze for quick pizzas down the road.
    Get the recipe from Dinner with Julie
  • Chop extra while you’re at it 7 of 10
    Chop extra while you're at it
    While you're chopping onions, carrots, celery, peppers, and other veggies that often make the base of a soup or stew, chop extra and store them in Zip-loc bags in the fridge or freezer for a headstart next time.
    10 healthy soups for cold days
  • Freeze meat in its marinade 8 of 10
    Freeze meat in its marinade
    Buying larger packages of chicken, pork tenderloin, and other cuts of meat can be cheaper; divvy it up into freezer bags and freeze in a marinade to protect against freezer burn and get a jump on dinner. When you're ready, just thaw and cook!
    Make chicken satay
  • Plan ahead 9 of 10
    Plan ahead
    Having a plan for dinner saves the time and effort of having to figure out what to cook after work and school, when everyone is tired and hungry, and it's rush hour at the grocery store.
    Snag free meal plans from Everything Mom
  • Start with flour tortillas, naan, or pita 10 of 10
    Start with flour tortillas, naan, or pita
    Most flatbreads make for fast, easy pizza dough. Just top with whatever you have on hand, and bake in under 10 minutes.
    Get the recipe from Cheeky Kitchen

Photo credit: istockphoto.com/loooby

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