Friday, 26 October 2012

10 Tips for a Simple Life in the Kitchen

Throughout my blog posts I've mentioned a couple of things we do to try and make life a bit simpler in the kitchen- shortcuts to save time, tricks to save money, cost effective ways to increase our store cupboard (which increases our choices for throw together meals) and tips to reduce waste. Rather than sneak them in from time to time, I thought today I would compile a list of some of my top tips and tricks to share with you.

If you have plenty time and you're not overly concerned about staying within a certain budget, then some of these ideas won't seem necessary to you- and that's OK! I just thought for that for those out there who are fighting a hectic schedule and a thinly spread income you might appreciate some new ideas.
10 Tips for a Simple Life in the Kitchen

  1. Use ice cube trays to freeze small leftover portions of things like pesto, broth, sauces etc. Transfer the cubes to a Ziplock bag or another freezer-proof container and it will be easy to pull out exactly how much you need (write on the bag how much each cube equates to in terms of tspsns or tblspns).
  2. Put bread ends or scraps into a bag in the freezer to use later for homemade croutons, stuffing, or simply breadcrumbs.
  3. Keep bags of diced onion in the freezer. Our local supermarket sells 1kg for £1, which is roughly the same cost as a 1kg of fresh- so I don't mean to say that it is a cheaper option across the board, but you can use only as much as you need rather than buying a whole onion when you only need half. It also means you’ll always have it on hand; increasing your choices for quick and easy meals based on your store cupboard ingredients.
  4. Slice mushrooms with an egg slicer - one slice, and the mushroom is done. It's lazy, I know, but when you have to slice so many mushrooms for Beef Stroganoff you'll thank me!
  5. Use A Slow Cooker – you can use cheaper cuts of meat, and it uses less energy than the oven too.
  6. Keep minced garlic and ginger in jars in the fridge. Again, it's cheaper than buying fresh for each recipe, you only use what you need and it means you’ll always have it on hand (increasing your choices for quick and easy meals based on your store cupboard). Actually; make your own minced garlic and ginger, freeze them in ice cube trays and then just defrost a couple in a jar at a time. It's even cheaper than buying the supermarket jars!
  7. Frozen raspberries are generally cheaper than fresh, it means they're always 'in season' and you don't have to worry about using them all up before they spoil- just use what you need, when you need it. Actually, this applies to frozen fruit in general... but I pretty much only eat raspberries!
  8. If you want a soft cheese (like Mozzarella) grated but don't want to buy the expensive (and often bizarrely dry!) ready grated version, then try freezing the Mozzarella for 20-30 minutes. This will make it much firmer and easier to grate!
  9. If you see meat that you use frequently and it's on offer, buy it and divide into individual portions to freeze. That way you can make the most of the offer, even if you don't need it immediately, but then you can just grab however much you need from the freezer at any time. I particularly like to buy rotisserie chicken on sale, shred it up and freeze in individual portions for quick meals. It's great for dishes like my favourite Hoisin Tart.
  10. If you want to bag the best reductions in supermarkets, take a peak at the timetable below for UK supermarkets (sorry Americans, but I'm sure someone has done something similar for you)! It may vary slightly in places, but this is roughly the timings of the reductions in supermarkets over the course of a day. I'm not suggesting you hit all of them, but find out how your local one times it and see if you can't plan around that when you do your biggest shop. It can make a huge difference to your weekly budget!

So there you go, some of our top tips for saving time and a few pennies in the kitchen! Please do leave me a comment and let me know if there are any obvious ones you think I'm missing out on- I may even include them in my next update (with your permission, of course)! 

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