Is getting a quick dinner on the table your greatest cooking challenge? Simple recipes and cooking shortcuts, like taking advantage of convenience products and time-saving cooking techniques, will save you preparation and cooking time.
Check out these handy tips for quick meals.
Keep your cupboard stocked with these quick dinner basics.
- French bread
- Pita bread
- Pizza crust (ready-to-eat)
- Sandwich buns
- Tortillas, flour
- Cheeses (cubed, shredded, sliced)
- Cheese spreads
- Cream cheese
- Refrigerated pasta
- Refrigerated pasta sauces
- Refrigerated potatoes
- Sour cream
- Chicken breasts (boneless skinless)
- Deli meats
- Fish (fillets, steaks)
- Ground beef
- Pork (boneless chops, tenderloin)
- Precooked shredded meats and poultry in barbecue sauce
- Preseasoned meats and poultry (ready-to-cook)
- Turkey (slices, tenderloins)
- Filled Pasta
- Fish products (breaded, unbreaded)
- Vegetables (combinations, plain)
- Beans (canned plain, flavored)
- Bisquick® mix
- Bread crumbs (plain, flavored)
- Broth (beef, chicken, vegetable)
- Chicken (canned)
- Dried herbs
- Pasta sauces
- Rice (instant)
- Roasted red bell peppers
- Salmon, Shrimp (canned)
- Seasoning packets (Alfredo, gravy, meat loaf, sloppy joe, spaghetti)
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Tomato products (plain, seasoned)
- Tuna (canned, in pouches)
- Bagged lettuce (complete kits, lettuce mixtures, plain lettuce
- Carrots (baby-cut)
- Fruit (fresh precut)
- Garlic (minced in jars)
- Vegetables (fresh precut)
- Vegetables (mixtures in bags)
Save Time in the Kitchen
- Barbecue sauce
- Seasoning blends, dried
- Stir-fry sauces
- Teriyaki sauces
Why not chop another onion or two or brown up an extra pound of ground beef while you’re already in the kitchen? Taking that extra bit of time to make some things ahead really saves you time in the future. Here are some handy time-saving do-ahead ideas:
- Make bread crumbs, either plain or seasoned with your favorite herbs and spices, from extra or stale bread. Put it in resealable freezer bags or containers with lids; label and date. Freeze up to 3 months.
- Cut uncooked meat and poultry into cubes or slices. Arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined baking pan or cookie sheet; freeze. Remove from baking pan. Place the meat in resealable freezer bags or containers with lids; label and date. Freeze up to 6 months. Use in casseroles, skillet meals, soups, stews and stir-fries.
- Make extra uncooked hamburger patties. Place waxed paper between each patty, then wrap tightly; label and date. Freeze up to 4 months. To use patties, thaw in the refrigerator before cooking
- Make extra uncooked or cooked meatballs. Arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined baking pan or cookie sheet; freeze. Remove from baking pan. Place in resealable freezer bags or containers with lids; label and date. Freeze uncooked meatballs up to 4 months and cooked meatballs up to 3 months. Use cooked meatballs directly from freezer in cooked recipes. If using uncooked meatballs, cook until it’s no longer pink in center and the thermometer reads 160ºF.
- Cook ground beef plain or with seasonings and diced onions or other diced vegetables; drain. Place it in resealable freezer bags or containers with lids; label and date. Freeze up to 3 months. Use in casseroles, chilies, skillet meals, sloppy joes, soups, spaghetti or tacos.
- Chop bell peppers, carrots, celery and onions. Arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined baking pan or cookie sheet; freeze. Remove from baking pan. Place in resealable freezer bags or containers with lids; label and date. Freeze up to 1 month. To use, add unthawed vegetables directly to the dish being cooked. Or to sauté, thaw slightly just to break pieces apart. Use in casseroles, skillet meals, soups, stews and stir-fries.
How food is cut up before it’s cooked affects cooking time. Cutting meat, poultry or vegetables into smaller or thinner pieces shortens cooking. Another speedy shortcut is to flatten boneless skinless chicken breasts to a thickness of 1/4 inch.
When making a pasta dish that cooks fresh or frozen vegetables, add the vegetables to the saucepan of boiling pasta and water during the last 3 to 5 minutes of cooking for crisp-tender vegetables. Drain pasta and vegetables in a colander, and continue with the recipe.
Need boiling water in a hurry? Start with hot water and cover the saucepan with a lid. It will boil faster!