From large family gatherings to corporate holiday parties, fall and winter play host to a variety of large meals and events that require hours of preparation and cooking. Instead of slaving over the stove for days on end, you can prepare large and delicious dinners much more efficiently by organizing your prep work and cutting back on cooking time. Here are some easy tips for making the most of your time in the kitchen, so you can spend more time with family and friends and less time checking on the turkey.
[title text=”Reduce Prep Time”]
Reduce the amount of time you spend on Thanksgiving morning by preparing your fresh food in batches a few days beforehand. Dice vegetables, fruits and nuts and store them in the freezer. Whip up sauces the day before and store them in airtight containers in the fridge. The week before a big meal, take some time each day to focus on one aspect of the meal. By sectioning off the tasks, you’ll have everything prepped and ready to go when it’s time to start cooking. Just make sure you thaw all of your frozen ingredients overnight to ensure proper temperatures.
[title text=”Use Proper Storage”]
While you’re packing those diced vegetables into storage containers, make sure you use the right container for each item. Leafy vegetables can be stored in freezer-safe bags while sauces and other liquids should be packed in an airtight solid container. You may need to spend a little extra on quality storage containers to ensure freshness. After all, you don’t want to open up those bags of chopped arugula just to find out that they’ve wilted. Storing your items effectively the first time will ensure that you don’t waste time preparing your food all over again.
[title text=”Fresh vs. Canned”]
For some recipes, using canned food can be just as effective as using fresh ingredients, and canned items last longer and cut down on prep time significantly. Instead of buying fresh pumpkin for your grandmother’s traditional recipe, consider substituting canned pumpkin pulp for the filling. You can find many organic varieties of canned ingredients if you’re worried about the content of overly processed canned goods. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use canned food in place of everything. Experiment with your favorite recipes to see where you can make substitutions.
[title text=”Transform Canned Ingredients”]
If you do decide to use canned goods, then there are ways you can reduce the amount of salt and preservatives used to keep these items fresh. Here are some tips for transforming canned goods into proper substitutions:
- Buy no-salt-added varieties of vegetables and add your own seasoning.
- Look for organic options at whole foods stores or online markets.
- Thoroughly rinse beans to remove the excess canning juice and salt.
- Choose varieties of fruit that come packed in 100 percent juice instead of syrup.
Canned soups can help you cut down on prep time for sauces, but be wary of soups containing high amounts of sodium or mysterious ingredients. You don’t want to sacrifice the quality of your dishes just to save a few minutes of cooking time.
[title text=”Slow-Cooked Perfection”]
One of the nice things about holiday meals is that extra time helps the flavors develop more effectively. This means that you can actually save time by allowing more time for your food to cook using slow cookers. Instead of taking up stove space for stuffing, sweet potatoes and green beans, use slow cookers to do the hard work for you. Add in your favorite ingredients, turn the cooker on to the appropriate setting, and move on to something else. Using a slow cooker effectively will help you reduce the time you spend actively cooking in the kitchen.
Large meals don’t have to be a labor of love. Save even more time while you prep for big holiday meals by recruiting extra hands in the kitchen and shopping online for everything from brand name slow cookers to gourmet groceries. Buying in bulk and enrolling in DubLi’s awesome cashback incentive program will help you cut down on time and money for all of your favorite get-togethers. You’ll save money on brands you love while earning cash back on everything you need to host the perfect family meal.