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January 19, 2009

Convenience Foods - Make Ahead

Part Five

Anything that you can measure ahead of time and repackage is a make-it-yourself convenience food. Meals don't seem so daunting when you've taken a few shortcuts ahead of time.

If you're measuring something for today's meal, take a few seconds to measure out a second batch or bowlful, and store it in a jar, zipper-top bag, or freezer container.

Occasionally I used to buy bread machine mixes. It was so much easier to open a bag, pour the contents in my bread machine, add water and yeast and press *Start*, than to measure every ingredient in my standard recipe. One day I had a brainstorm and packaged up half a dozen bags of my own recipe, with a slip of paper inside the bag reminding me how much water, honey, and yeast to add. (Using my bread machine saves my wrists, but I do know how to make it by hand.)

I've made cookie mixes: all the dry ingredients for chocolate chip cookies are put into a zipper-top bag, with a separate sandwich-size bag of chocolate chips. Again, I made a slip of paper listing the ingredients that needed to be added, and the baking directions.

On days that we actually only want a couple of fresh-baked cookies warm from the oven, I form the rest of the cookie dough into balls, put them in a freezer bag and into the freezer. They don't stick together, and don't need to be thawed before baking. Just remove as many as you'd like, arrange them on a cookie sheet, and bake for a few minutes longer than the recipe suggests. No need to buy that very expensive refrigerated cookie dough full of preservatives.

Cake mixes are another easy-to-make-ahead mix. Take your favorite cake recipe and put all the dry ingredients into a quart canning jar, then add the directions for mixing and baking.

Remember all those "Gift in a Jar" recipes? Make some up and put them on your own cupboard shelves. From M&M Cookie Mix to brownies, all will save you time in the kitchen.

Previous posts on this subject:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three - Ground Beef
Part Four - Dump Chicken

Please leave a comment about your favorite convenience foods!


  1. Anonymous11:57 AM

    I think all my favorites are at your house. (gg)

  2. Anonymous4:33 PM

    Now that I'm over 66 years old & tired of cooking, my convenience foods are quite a bit different. They are good easy time savers though.

    1. Ore-Ida forzen hash browns can be microwaved, mixed with a little butter, salt & pepper & eaten as a potato dish. They can also be cooked that way & mashed or used for potato salad. They can also be added to soups frozen out of the bag.

    2. Del Monte diced potatoes. Ditto as above.

    3. Pillsbury microwave biscuits. No heating up the oven, ready in a few seconds, can fix one or all.

    4. You can make healthy carbonated beverages by making your own. Use sparkling water, a little real juice & Splenda.

  3. This is such a smart idea. I usually double whatever I'm cooking and freeze the other half. I never thought about mixing extra dry ingredients of things like pancakes and cookies.

  4. Diane, I like having both options - making double and freezing half like you do, and making dry mixes as well. I hope it works for you too!


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