Kitchen Basics Workshop - Week 3 of 5

Pin It Hi guys! Ginny here again from Cooking With Chopin, Living With Elmo. Thanks again to Megan and Stephanie here at Crazy Domestic for letting me yap my trap about cooking.

If you're just stopping by for the first time, be sure to look back at Weeks 1 and 2: Meal Planning and Stocking Your Pantry.

Before I proceed to my regularly-scheduled programming, in which I'll toss out a few ideas about kitchen efficiency, I just have to get something off of my chest. Because it's bugging me. I have a rather long list of pet-peeves, and I'm working on shortening it for the sake of the integrity of my relationships.

But here's something that REALLY aggravates me...

Catchy, one-liner "how to's" that claim to change your life forever:

"De-Clutter Your Life!"

"Lose A Dress Size By Saturday!"

"Organize Your Closet, End Unhealthy Relationships,

Clean Out Your Fridge, and Lose 7 Pounds by this Weekend!"

And cellulite cream. I'm sure it works. But do you have 15 minutes a day to lock yourself away in the bathroom while "invigoratingly" massaging your buns and thighs?
Neither do I.

So what in the world does that have to do with my discussion of being efficient in the kitchen?

Nothing, except that I want you to know that I am on your side. I don't want this workshop to be some annoying, gimmicky, "I'm-gonna-fix-all-of-your-cooking-woes!" source of irritation. I can't fix anything. If you hate to cook and only do so for the survival of your family, nothing I say can help you enjoy it. I can only share with you what I have learned over the last 10 years (since I've been cooking for my family). If something works for you, AWESOME. That will make my day! If not, that's OK, too. I hope I can at least make you smile.

All right. Feeling better now.
Kitchen Efficiency.
Making the most of your time in the kitchen.
Killing more than two birds with less than two stones.
Here are a few of my tips:

Leftovers Go Incognito...
  1. Make one entree whose contents can be used for other meals later in the week. For example, a pot roast. You can make a large beef roast (or two), and then use the leftovers to make
  • Roast Beef Sandwiches

Use a food processor or two forks to shred the beef...spread bread with your favorite mayonnaise or mustard, toss on some lettuce or fresh spinach, and enjoy!

  • Beef and Vegetable Soup
Image credit: jefferyww

    Click here for a great beef and veggie soup recipe. Just modify it a bit to add your leftover roast.

Substitute ground meat for shredded beef.

Saute the onion in a skillet and then place in slow-cooker with other ingredients and follow recipe as written.

  • Shredded with BBQ sauce in a bun
Image: here
Recipe for the BBQ sandwich in the image is here. Looks delicious.

See? One hunk of meat, five different meals.
Now that's some sneaky recycling!

2. The same principle applies to a roasted whole chicken:

(You'll need to roast more than one chicken at a time to get enough meat for the week...)
  • Night 1: Eat the roasted chicken and swim around in the squeals of culinary delight rising from your table. Yes, it's that good!

  • Night 2: Using leftovers, make Chicken Enchiladas. Unless you live in Texas. If that's the case, please do not make your own enchiladas. Get in your car and drive to the nearest Tex-Mex restaurant.

Photo credit: D. Sharon Pruitt

Image credit: Edwin Bautista

(Modify to include pre-cooked, shredded chicken.)
(Modify to include pre-cooked, shredded chicken.)

And While You're At It...

The following principles all go back to meal planning. When you know what you're going to make for the entire week, you can do some of that pesky prep work beforehand.

Chopping Onions

Since you're standing at the counter vigorously chopping an onion to make the King Ranch Chicken Casserole for Night 4, why not also chop the onions you'll need for Night 6 (Chicken and White Bean Chili) and Night 7 (Chicken and Kale Soup)?

Keep in mind that half an onion, chopped, translates to about 1/2 cup. Now you can determine exactly how many onions you need to chop for your weekly meal-making endeavors.

(Just put those stinky bad-boys in a stout Zip-Lock bag or in a sealed glass container while they hang out in your fridge waiting to be used later in the week. Otherwise it will smell like a big, burly man with bad BO is hiding in your crisper drawer.)
Also, one clove of garlic, minced, equals about a teaspoon.

Chopping Veggies

If you're chopping veggies for a salad (carrots, broccoli, red bell pepper), chop up a few extras to serve as snacks or an appetizer the following day.

Chicken Breasts

Cook/Saute/Bake/Grill several chicken breasts at once. You can reheat them later in the week (or wrap well and freeze for much later use). Cut them in strips for stir-fry, fajitas, or to top a chef's salad.

Browning Ground Meats (Beef, Bison, Turkey, Chicken, etc.)

When you're browning meat to make something like spaghetti, brown a couple of extra pounds of meat and use later for lasagna, tacos, chili, etc.

Make Entrees on Sunday

I've had a few working moms tell me that they designate Sunday afternoons as their cooking day. Spending several hours in the kitchen on Sunday preparing their entrees for the week (such as casseroles, baked chicken breasts, etc.) allows them to pop something in the oven when they arrive home in the evenings. While it's heating, they can direct homework activities while they steam fresh veggies, make a salad, or bake some frozen garlic bread as a side item.

Double Up

Double the recipes for entrees like casseroles and lasagnas and prepare another pan, freeze it, and bake it another night.


I hope you find some of these tips useful and that they are practical for you to implement into your life. And please: if you have a kitchen efficiency tip, please share it in a comment!

Thanks again for lending me your precious time.

See you next week!


Two Sides of the Rainbow said...

Thanks for the tips. Lovely recipes that sound so fresh. I love when someone else plans my menus for me : )

Unknown said...

Ginny, I love this post. I hate leftovers, so they usually go in the trash while we go out to eat. I never think to make them into a whole new meal. I think the big question is, how long do leftovers last? I usually go with the three day rule. Anything in the fridge more than 3 days goes to the curb, but sounds like cooked meats can last up to 7.. yes? no?

Unknown said...

We do the Taco Soup at least once a month... family favorite.