The past week I have needed shortcuts. I love watching jars fill with peaches, applesauce, grape juice, and tomatoes. I have wonderful helpers this year and am amazed at how much faster these projects take than a few years ago. But it still makes busy days and simple meals became priority.
I feel a little silly admitting this but I find it hard to take shortcuts. I love to cook from scratch. I like to make my own bread, rolls, tortillas, granola bars, and crackers. In the summer I walk through the grocery store arguing with myself. I don't need that; I can make it myself. No, you can't; you are too busy; just buy it.
So whether your busy season is August, December, or May -
Whether you love to make your own bagels and peanut butter or your idea of from-scratch cooking is adding toppings to a frozen pizza crust -
I'm giving you permission to take whatever shortcuts you need in your busy seasons.
Without guilt. Just do it. Buy that frozen pizza. Pick up that pack of granola bars. Hide a loaf of bread behind the carrots in your cart. Do what works for you in this season of life.
And I'll try to take my own advice.
Besides making extra purchases at the grocery store, I also try to stock up on homemade time-saving meal ingredients.
A big one for me is canned meat. The other year a friend told me how much she loved having canned chicken. I tried it and now I don't know what I would do without a few jars of canned chicken in my pantry. I buy a 40-lb box of boneless, skinless, chicken thighs at our local butcher shop and pressure can it in jars. It makes such a fast start to so many different meals. Having some pre-cooked ground beef in the freezer is also a great time-saver.
I also like to have a selection of pre-cooked dried beans such as kidney, pinto, navy, and black beans. These I also pressure can so they are ready to add to salads, enchiladas, and other meals. (The directions for canning dried beans is one of the most read posts on this blog.) I also cook a crock-pot full of refried beans and freeze them in pint containers for quick quesadillas and dips.
Yeah...I know. I could just buy cans of beans. I told you I have issues.
Dried seasoning mixes also get used hard in the summer. A few minutes mixing up various mixes make a difference on a busy night. Here is six of my favorite mixes.
I didn't do it this summer but some years I have mixed up a fruit crisp topping and fruit cobbler topping. (For fruit cobbler I use the muffin mix recipe and pour it over fresh fruit in a baking dish.) This makes super easy desserts with various fresh fruits during the summer. I should mix these up for some apple crisps or cobblers this fall.
Now your turn. I know summer is nearly over, but can you share your favorite meal shortcuts? Maybe next year I'll remember to look back on this list early in the summer.