Recipes and Cooking Ideas for Homemakers and Amateur Cooks

13 shortcuts in the kitchen, Thursday Thirteen #1

Posted on March 26, 2008
Filed Under Thursday Thirteens

This is my 1st Thursday Thirteen. Since this is a cooking blog, my Thirteens will mostly be about things that have to do with my kitchen. Yeah, I thought that made sense too. So, here we go…

I hope I can think of 13 good things so I don’t have to put things in like ‘Sweep the dirt under the rug instead of bothering to get out the dust pan’. Because we know that that actually doesn’t save time. And we know that it’s not a good enough excuse that your company is walking in the front door. Plus, we’d never think of doing that anyway. We just know people who do it.

1. Breakfast in a snap… mix up a big batch of pancakes and fry them all. When everyone is done eating, put the rest in serving sizes (2 or 3 pancakes)in Ziploc sandwich bags in the freezer. When you get them out of the freezer, put them in the microwave until they’re steaming and soft. They taste as good as they did the morning you fried them!

2. Twice the food, without twice the work… next time you make a casserole, like lasagna, make 2 pans instead of one. You’re frying hamburger and cooking noodles anyway, might as well throw more in. Put one pan in the oven for dinner, cover the other pan tightly and put it in the freezer. You’ll be SO glad for it next week on one of those harried days… you know the days I’m talking about.

3. Quick bread crumbs… the secret is they’re not actually bread crumbs. Keep Club crackers on hand and when a recipe calls for bread crumbs, simply crush the crackers. They taste better too, especially when tossed with melted butter and browned on top of a baked dish.

4. Fresh warm cookies every day… without baking them! Whether you get them out of the cookie jar or out of the freezer, throw them in the microwave for 10 or 20 seconds and you’ll have a warm cookie that tastes like it’s just out of the oven. Now, I want a cookie. And I do have some in the freezer…

5. Quick measuring… keep a measuring cup in the flour and sugar canisters. You don’t have to dirty a cup every time you measure and you don’t have the extra step of getting one out of the drawer.

6. Clean-up time… after a meal, do you always have scraps (fat cut off of chicken, food chunks or barbeque sauce left on plates, oil to scrape out of the skillet after frying, etc.)? Get a piece of tin foil and scrape everything onto it, then fold it all up and throw the whole works away. I like tin foil because if something is juicy, I can fold up the sides and it holds it all in.

7. Easy croutons… sprinkle Italian seasoning on bread, then butter it. Do it on both sides and put it in the toaster. Pop it up as soon as it browns. Cut the toast in squares with a pizza cutter. They taste great and they’re soft enough to poke with a fork.

8. Especially for kids… get a water dispenser (if you don’t have one in the door of your fridge). You can get them at Walmart or wherever. It’s a jug with a spout on it. Put it on a low shelf and the kids can get their own drinks. No heavy jug or pitcher to pour.

9. Bread in a hurry… want the bread dough to rise quicker? Warm a towel in the microwave, then wrap it around the bowl that the dough is in. You may have to re-warm it a few times till the bread finishes rising.

10. Bread in even more of a hurry… ah, these are my meal-savers! If you’ve been reading this site for awhile, you know I’m a fan of these… popable cans of crescent rolls, French bread, and dinner rolls. We have hot bread or rolls at almost every meal and this is just the fastest and easiest way to go! You think they don’t taste as good? Well, then you haven’t tasted my from-scratch yeast bread. I still have much to learn in that dept.

11. Cinnamon sugar… take an empty cinnamon bottle/can/container (whatever you call it?!) and fill it 1/4 of the way with cinnamon, then the rest of the way with sugar. Shake it and flip it till blended, and you’ve got a handy topping for toast or unsweetened applesauce. Oh, and take a marker and write ’sugar’ on the front beside ’cinnamon’.

12. Cut it up all at once… when you buy a head of broccoli or cauliflower for fresh eating, cut them up into florets and put them in plastic bags in the fridge. You’ll be more apt to eat them that way. And you don’t have to get a knife out every time you want some.

13. The shopping list… as you’re working in the kitchen and you see the shortening or dishsoap or whatever is getting low, write it on the shopping list (which is magnetic and stuck to your fridge). Your list is ready to go shopping when you are and fewer things are forgotten. Just remember the list! Does anyone else forget the list? Or is it just scatter-brained me? Too often, I find myself roaming the aisles, trying to picture my list and what was on it… while the girls are begging for Hi-C box drinks and throwing colored marshmallows in the cart.

Now, I want to learn from you… what shortcuts do you do in the kitchen?


13 Responses to “13 shortcuts in the kitchen, Thursday Thirteen #1”

  1. Pretty Life Online on March 27th, 2008 2:25 am

    great lists! Happy TT! I have an awards waiting for you in my site, hope you get time to visit.

  2. K. on March 27th, 2008 3:35 am

    I have to tell you, I am NOT much of a cook at all, so I was surprised to find that I do a lot of these already! My Mom will be SO proud! I still learned a few things from your list of great tips, though, so thanks!

  3. Jan on March 27th, 2008 6:53 am

    #1 I love to make a big batch of pancakes, in the evenings I get out the toaster and then the children pop them in there in the mornings when i’m busy w. the babies. #7 I am going to try the easy croutons sounds much quicker than the oven. #8 make sure the little spouty thing doesn’t get pressed by a fridge shelf when the door closes! not fun

  4. Shannon on March 27th, 2008 8:19 am

    I do a few of these things too, esp the pancakes. The girls love them and I love NOT making them. :) I like the clean up one. Gonna have to use that!

  5. lisa on March 27th, 2008 9:29 am

    if you use instant yeast, your dough only has to rise once. so you can mix, knead, and shape your bread,rolls, etc and THEN let them raise once. the first time i tried it since i heard that was last sunday morning with cinnamon rolls, and i couldn’t tell any difference.

  6. Nicholas on March 27th, 2008 1:58 pm

    Welcome to TT!

  7. MAmaArcher on March 27th, 2008 2:24 pm

    Great list of ideas! Personally, I love my crockpot! Especially on Sundays. I can put our meal in before we head out the door to worship and it is ready when we get home. It cuts back on the urge to go out to dinner and spend money we really could use better elsewhere.

  8. Grandmother Wren on March 27th, 2008 3:18 pm

    This is a great list of tips – especially the one about the warm cookies, anytime. Thank you!

  9. Joyce T. on March 27th, 2008 5:50 pm

    You are the first Mennonite blogger I have met! And, I’m pleased to meet you.

    One of our family’s favorite cook books is the Mennonite cook book, More With Less, which I have used for 25 years.

    Also, when our children were little, I used the Mennonite curriculum, Rod and Staff, to teach them, though we are reformed presbyterian Christians, not Mennonite.

  10. Audrey on March 28th, 2008 7:07 am

    Hey, I really enjoyed these tips. Some of them I already do and some of them would be good to get started with. I can’t think of any tips right off hand of my own, but I enjoyed reading yours. Thanks for all the work you put into this site…I’m a regular visitor.

  11. Esther on March 28th, 2008 7:40 am

    My husband LOVES cookies. Something I like to do is freeze cookie dough that I’ve shaped into balls. When he wants fresh cookies, he can pull out a dozen, thaw them, and bake! It’s great for when I’m at work.

  12. Surpina on March 28th, 2008 3:11 pm

    Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out my blog and my recipe blog. I think I should have become a chef I like to cook and bake so much….

    I have to agree with the above blogger about the crock pot/slow cooker. I use mine YEAR round. Love it.

    I don’t like to clean up a lot of dishes and with 4 kids we go through a lot of plate. So I use paper plates instead.

    You have a wonderful blog and I am going to be adding you to my blog Roll!

  13. Andy Lawrenson on March 29th, 2008 7:31 am


    I discovered your blog through my nephew’s blog ( and I love to eat so naturally I ended up popping over to check out your blog. I’ll be back. I do 95% of the cooking in our home and really enjoy cooking.
    Your tips were fantastic! I always end up dumping out half of my pancake batter once everyone is full. Thanks!