Cook Your Favorite Recipes Faster

marinara sauce for recipesMost of us have our favorite recipes. And each time we make them, we do the same tasks again and again. Next time you make that dish, think how you might prepare some of the ingredients in larger quantities. This can cut the amount of time you spend preparing or cooking your food.

Let’s say your cake calls for three different types of spices. Every time you make the cake, you need to take out and put away 3 measuring spoons and containers. You have more chances of spilling, too. You can make your life simpler by preparing your own mix.

My mom’s homemade baking mix is an elaborate example of this type of thinking, as is washing your produce in the dishwasher. But there are countless ways to incorporate mixes or prepared ingredients into your cooking.

Here are a few further examples:

  1. Spice mix. A recipe calls for a large number of powdered spices, measured out separately. Multiply the amounts of each ingredient by 5 or 10, and store in a jar. Make a note on the jar or in your cookbook of how much spice mix you need for that dish.
  2. Sautéed onions and celery. Spend an hour peeling, cleaning and chopping the onion and celery, then saute it. Store it in containers that hold the right amount for a single recipe.
  3. Peeled onions for cooking. Peel and slice onions and store in a plastic zippered bag, then place in a second bag. Keep in the freezer and take out as much as you need at once.
  4. Cooked beans. Soak as directed here, if needed. After cooking, lay the beans flat within a zippered bag and freeze each bag separately on a flat surface like a cookie tray. After they are frozen you can stack them. If stored in one layer, you can break off a small amount without defrosting the whole bag.
  5. Chicken or vegetable broth. Invest in a large pot, keep a container in the freezer for bones or vegetable scraps. Cook and strain. Then store in shallow containers, to use when cooking soups, sauces, or grains.
  6. Herbs. Chop fresh herbs, cover in olive oil and carefully pour into an ice cube tray (silicone ones work well).
  7. Tomato sauce.
  8. Hot peppers. I got this idea from a reader. Hot peppers require special handling, using gloves. So I prepare a large quantity all at once.  cut them in half, remove seeds and roast. Then I freeze them in a plastic bag in the freezer, ready for any recipe.

I usually make these items when I am about to use them in another dish. Then I keep a portion or two in the refrigerator, for use in the next few days,  and freeze the rest.

Check out my post on Freezing for a Crowd for general storage tips.


  1. There are issues of Jewish law involving peeled onions and garlic. a discussion of these (in English) can be found here.

  2. I was going to mention the problem of leaving peeled onions overnight, but didn’t have a chance yet! Much of what I read elsewhere says that if the onions are mixed with something else, for example in a salad, it’s OK. I don’t remember where I read all this, but I know that when I dice onions on Thursday, to cook/fry on Friday, I add some oil to the onions before storing in the refrigerator, and that’s supposed to solve the issue.

  3. I was going to bring up the issue of making peeled red onion over night, but did not have a opportunity yet! Much of what I study elsewhere says that if the red onion are combined with something else, for example in a healthy salad, it’s OK.