There are a few prepared “fresh” ingredients that I try to always have on hand to make cooking a little easier and less time consuming. It can also be a way to save money.
- Frozen Diced Onions: You can dice up a bag of onions, place them in a freezer bag and freeze them to easily pull out for a recipe. While this is the method that I typically use, admittedly, I also buy the frozen diced onion out of the freezer section at the grocery store. I have found that when I work with a substantial amount of fresh onion, I get a headache that will last for at least 24 hours. For me, it’s worth the little “splurge” to buy the pre-diced frozen onions.
- Frozen diced/sliced bell peppers: As I have mentioned previously, I only buy bell peppers when I find them on the discount produce rack. I bring them home dice or slice them and place them in a freezer bag. This saves me time in food preparation and money. (A friend of mine told me recently that the peppers work better if they are flash frozen first, then placed in a freezer bag. That way, they won’t clump together. This might be the method for onions as well.)
- Minced Garlic: Much to some people’s dismay, I buy the jar of already minced garlic. It is a huge time saver for me, and personally, I hate mincing garlic (I was recently given a large jar of fresh garlic cloves in olive oil and I can’t wait until I use them all because I hate mincing them.) The bigger the jar of minced garlic, the better the price, so this is typically a great buy at the warehouse stores (Costco and Sam’s Club).
- Frozen Ginger Root: We love Asian dishes in our house with lots of ginger. The best way to use fresh ginger is to put the root in the freezer. When you need it for a recipe, take it out of the freezer and use a knife to slightly scrape off the peel (you can also shave the peel off before freezing). Using a small hand grater, simply grate the amount you need into the pan. Fresh ginger always has a better flavor in recipes than dry, ground ginger, but I have also used the ground spice (when I’m in a REALLY big hurry). Of course, I use ground ginger in baking.
- Ground Gluten-Free Flour: It is nice to have already ground gluten-free flour on hand sealed in a tight container. But don’t make too much, you don’t want it to go rancid. You can store it in the refrigerator to keep a little longer. You can read up on making your own gluten-free flours on my MSM special feature. I will have a more detailed post forthcoming.
- Miscellaneous: On occasion, I will also have some of the following items frozen and ready for a recipe – finely diced jalapeno pepper, diced green onion, diced carrots, diced celery. I have heard that you can mash a ripe avocado and freeze for guacamole, but I have not tried this yet.
These are just a few of the time (and money) saving prepared ingredients that I have in my kitchen. What prepared ingredients do you use in your kitchen to save time and money?
Up next: The Well-Stocked Pantry