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Kitchen Shortcuts & Tips
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Whether you love to cook or hate being anywhere near the kitchen, this list will help make meal preparation just a little bit easier.

  • Use vegetables to create a roasting rack for your meats.  Put carrots, potatoes, and onions on the bottom of your roasting pan and place the meat on top.  The juices from the meat along with the vegetables make for delicious gravy.
  • Don't drink wine but like to cook with it?  Buy small bottles instead of the large ones.
  • Microwave long-cooking vegetables before grilling.
  • Reserve up to a cup of pasta water when cooking pasta. Use the water to add flavor and to thin the sauce.
  • Have two sets of measuring spoons on hand. That way you are not constantly washing them in the middle of meal preparation.
  • When preparing a meal, try doubling it and freezing the second portion for later.
  • Use a slow cooker, it's great for less expensive cuts of meat, soups, stews, chicken, practically anything can be make in a slow cooker.
  • Chop and measure all ingredients before you begin.
  • Get organized; prep your ingredients before you start to cook. Measuring and cutting up ingredients in advance. The French term for this is mise en place.
  • Bake instead of frying your bacon.
  • Marinade in zip-top bags. Mix the marinade in the bag, toss in your meat or chicken. Let sit in the refrigerator and turn occasionally.
  • When shaping meatballs, wet your hands to prevent sticking.
  • Use left-over meatloaf and meatballs in tacos, salad, casseroles, and pastas. Or make corn muffins by dropping the meat on the top of the mix and bake.
  • Save orange peels in the freezer for those meals that require orange peel when you don't have an orange handy.
  • Save the peel of a squeezed lemon in the freezer for grated lemon.
  • Mashed potato flakes are great to thicken up soups and sauces without adding cream.
  • Plan your meals in advance and prepare a shopping list.
  • Purchase and use rotisserie chickens from your local market.
  • Slice larger meats into thin strips or small pieces to shorten the cooking time.
  • Let the market do some of the work. Buy pre-sliced and pre-chopped vegetables in the produce section.
  • Gather all ingredients before you begin to cook.
  • Prep your ingredients while waiting for the oven to heat or water to boil.
  • Plan ahead. Place all non perishable ingredients, pots, pans, and utensils on the counter before you leave in the morning. When you return home exhausted from the day's work things will be ready to go.
  • Place oil bottles in cup cake liners to keep oil from getting your shelves oily.
  • Pound chicken breasts with a mallet to a thickness of about ½ inch. The chicken will cook faster and evenly if it is the same thickness.
  • Buy chicken tenders instead of chicken breast for quick thawing and cooking.
  • Save orange peels in the freezer for those meals that require orange peel when you don't have an orange handy.
  • Save the peel of a squeezed lemon in the freezer for grated lemon.
  • Sauté onion in butter and throw in left over rice for a buttery side.
  • Avoid flare-ups on the grill by trimming excess fat from meats and keep a small spray water bottle close to keep them at bay.
  • Freshen up left-over meat or chicken by serving a different side dish the second time around.

~ Kathy McHenry  




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