Although most cooks don’t like it, sometimes it is necessary to take shortcuts in the kitchen. Time is often a factor because of our busy lifestyles. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to squeeze in everything we want to do. Money is also becoming a major factor as the economy draws even tighter.
Luckily, there are a lot of things that cooks can do to work around time and money issues. There are plenty of shortcuts that, if taken, will still produce good food, in a timely fashion, while saving a few pennies along the way. Here are 10 of my favorite kitchen shortcuts:
#1 – Use canned soup as a starter base. My family cannot tell the difference between my own homemade tomato bisque and that I make using Campbell’s Tomato Soup as a base. I simply add in tiny diced onions, cream cheese, heavy cream, a touch of garlic, chives and parsley and it’s ready to go in less than 20 minutes.
#2 – Use left over chicken to make chicken salad. My family loves r otisserie chicken. However, there is always some left over. I use it to make chicken salad. I chop the chicken up and then add onions, mayonnaise, cranberries and pecan pieces to create a quick chicken salad that can be eaten alone or on bread. It takes only minutes and uses what you usually have right in your kitchen pantry.
#3 – Use frozen yeast rolls. Believe it or not, buying them can be cheaper than making your own. You can make just what you need and keep the rest remain frozen for future use. Once the rolls rise and bake, you won’t know the difference between them and those made from scratch. You’ll save hours in the kitchen and a few dollars as well.
#4 – Make your own sugar free cheesecake. Finding a sugar free cheesecake is no simple task and it may cost a small fortune. Cut time and money by making your own using cream cheese, Splenda, whipping cream and a pre-made graham cracker crust. It takes only about 10 minutes from start to finish and is a fraction of the cost of store bought cheesecake.
#5 – Use left over chicken and vegetables to make inside out chicken pot pie. Add the leftovers to Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup. Thin it out with some chicken broth. Bake up a batch of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and pour the creamy mixture on top. Voila, you have an inside out chicken pot pie in less than 20 minutes.
#6 – Use Betty Crocker’s Mashed Sweet Potatoes for a casserole. Make the potatoes according to box instructions. Then add marshmallows or other desired toppings on top and pop the casserole under the broiler just long enough to brown the surface. You’ll cut both time and money in half.
#7 – Take a shortcut to chocolate cream pie. Mix Jell-O Chocolate Fudge Pudding to the specifications on the box, cutting the milk by half a cup. Pour the pudding into an Oreo pre-made pie shell. Top with Cool Whip and chill for about 30 minutes. It takes less than 20 minutes to make and the cost is a fraction of that made from scratch.
#8 – Make homemade cinnamon rolls by using a boxed dough mix like Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix. Just prepare the dough to box specifications and add the cinnamon mixture of your choice during the final step. Prep time is cut by hours and the final result will be every bit as good as what you can do on your own.
#9 – Make a gourmet chicken finger dip using pineapple ice cream topping and mustard. Just mix the two to your personal taste (a little sweeter or tangier) and serve. Your guests will swear you spent hours making the dip or paid a small fortune to find it.
#10 – Make gourmet pumpkin pancakes for the holidays. Just add a little canned pumpkin and sugar (to taste) to your favorite pancake mix made into batter. Thin it slightly with cream and go. Everyone will think you are a cooking genius, although it took less than 5 minutes and less than $1 extra to make.