The most time consuming and dreaded part I face when cooking is chopping/grating the ingredients like cheese, carrots, peppers, or onions (ingredients I use quite often). With a family of seven, it requires much more time to do the chopping/grating because I need to make larger batches of a recipe, usually 2 or 3 times what a recipe calls for. The trick was to make that process go faster and not so dreaded.
I’ve recently RE-discovered one of my kitchen tools, my food processor. At least 4 of my 5 girls don’t like onions or peppers so I need to chop them fine enough to not be seen (what a tedious job), but can still add flavor. My food processor chops it much smaller and much faster than I can do so it’s perfect.
Now I can hide any undesired ingredients in whatever I’m making and can still ensure the girls get the needed vitamins. Plus if I’m going to be adding the ingredients at the same time, I can chop them in the food processor at the same time (so long as I need them chopped to the same size). One thing I’ve used it for lately is grating carrots and zucchini for a huge pot of chili (wonderfully cuts chopping time in third). Then I like to freeze leftovers for another time saver… a quick dinner when I don’t feel like cooking. I add pasta to bulk it up and make it stretch farther.
I also like to buy a large amount of cheese when I see an awesome sale, grate the cheese in the food processor and freeze it in 1 cup portions. This allows me to save time AND money. I save time in two ways, by grating ahead of time in big portions while I’m already using the food processor and the food processor is much faster than doing it by hand. I use this cheese only in recipes where the cheese will be cooked because it’s not noticeable then if the cheese has a fresh taste or not. You want that fresh taste for sandwiches, crackers and cheese platters, or other things like that. Having the cheese frozen in small quantities makes it quickly and easily used because I already know the portion of cheese in the bag.
What are your favorite kitchen tools that help save you time and possibly even actual dollars?