Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sherri's Helpful Hints

An Organized Kitchen

Organized Kitchen for the Sunday Cook

When you’re too busy on most nights to cook, one weekend session — making dinners in bulk and freezing portions for weekdays — reduces daily stress. Your kitchen setup should facilitate that.

The Strategies

Keep essentials front and center. In this case, “essentials” means stackable storage containers, large plastic mixing bowls, and other tools of the bulk cook’s trade. Items left on the counter won’t be in the way during your noncooking weekdays and will be ready to go when Sunday comes. And when you’re spending hours in the kitchen, an apron with pockets is especially useful to keep things handy (and you tidy).

Invest in equipment. Where others might station the toaster, the Sunday cook has a food sealer — just the thing for turning blanched green beans, fish fillets, and muffins into future instant meals. A scale is useful for weighing ingredients, which some cooks consider a faster and more reliable way to measure for bulk recipes. A calculator speeds the doubling and tripling of recipes. (Tip: Keep it spatter-free with a little plastic wrap.)

Organize the freezer.Doing this once will repay you in time and money: no more scrounging for lima beans and coming up with freezer-burned chicken. Make designated sections (prepared meals, vegetables, desserts). Use dividers, baskets, or multilayer ice caddies to keep containers neat and accessible. Same-size holders take up less space overall. And be sure to label everything.

The Tools and Tactics

Melamine Bowls. Those big ceramic bowls are great to look at but tough on arms busy with big jobs. Go for plastic instead.

5-Speed Blender. Sunday cooks need a blender big enough to prepare tomato soup for the whole week or pesto for the winter.

Collapsible three-cup containers .Collapsible freezer- and microwave-friendly containers take up little space when not in use.

Erasable labels. Won’t come off in the freezer, microwave, or dishwasher.

Freezer storage baskets .Plastic-coated metal bins, one deep, one shallow.

FoodSaver Bagging Device. Attractive enough to keep on the counter. Bagging material can be cut to size.

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