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October 2, 2012 7:32 PM   Subscribe

Tell me your recipes that get much easier with a little bit of advance planning! I like cold-brew coffee and this recipe for hash browns, not just because they're tasty, but because they're less work than regular coffee or hash browns, as long as I remember to do a tiny bit of preparation the night before. What else is like that? (If you have some non-food tips that fit the theme, that's good too...)
posted by moonmilk to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (In case the hash browns recipe is unavailable because of the New York Times paywall: the trick is to boil the potatoes in advance and refrigerate them. A cold potato is easy to grate, and for me at least, one big pre-boiled potato is good for two or three breakfasts.)
posted by moonmilk at 7:35 PM on October 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

Lasagne* - I make the meat sauce in multiples and freeze it in advance. Store as flat as possible (easier to thaw) in a Ziploc bag.

The day before you want a lasagne, take the meat sauce out so it can thaw in the fridge. Buy the cheeses and the noodles if you need more. And just slap it all together. So much faster than making the whole thing in one go.

*I also stretch the meat sauce with a bit of extra veggies, like onions, mushrooms. And I do a cheese thing that's ricotta and no cottage cheese.
posted by bilabial at 7:42 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you like steel-cut oats, letting them soak overnight before you prepare them in the morning makes them cook much more quickly. (And/or you can cook a bunch in advance and just reheat what you need with a little liquid.)
posted by veggieboy at 7:43 PM on October 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: No knead bread is super duper simple and takes about 10 minutes of hands-on time (not counting the 45 minutes in the oven). You just have to start it the night before.
posted by macrowave at 7:49 PM on October 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Also in the aforementioned steel cut oats, add freeze dried fruit to it. I'm partial to Target's Archer Farms peaches.
posted by asockpuppet at 7:53 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: bean soups and chilis made with overnight soaked dried beans... super cheap.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:26 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Adding vinegar to a pot of water and then boiling eggs makes peeling a lot easier. I sometimes make pickled eggs, so this is a nice way to cut down prep time.
posted by iftheaccidentwill at 8:29 PM on October 2, 2012

Best answer: Nearly instant bacon - see the recent FPP regarding oven-cooked bacon. Freeze the leftovers (if any). Then any time you need a few strips of bacon, take them out of the freezer and quickly re-heat to your desired level of crispitude.
posted by islander at 8:30 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We put whole tomatoes in the freezer before they go bad. Take out however many you need, run hot water over 'em, and the skin sloughs right off. Chop and throw directly in whatever. Pre-chopped peppers and corn cooked + cut off the cob in a freezer bag work pretty well too.

My mom used to cut up a bunch of chicken, lightly cook and freeze it, then use it later for various things.
posted by brennen at 8:31 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've cooked dried beans in the crockpot overnight. Less work than cooking them on the stove because you don't have to keep checking on the pot.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:52 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is kind of my answer to every AskMe food question, but seriously, it is in fact the answer to every food question ever: homemade bouillon, from 101 Cookbooks. It is a great base for pretty much any savory food you can make.
posted by judith at 9:00 PM on October 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: One ingredient banana "ice cream". Just freeze some chopped bananas and then puree them. Incredibly simple, but it tastes AMAZING.
posted by Yma at 10:20 PM on October 2, 2012

Bread! Put the dough in the refrigerator overnight, and it just gets better. Sometimes I do baguettes, but sometimes I just roll some of the dough out flat, cut it with a pizza cutter and make breadsticks.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:25 AM on October 3, 2012

If you're having guests, make up a strata or baked French toast casserole the night before, using old bread. I don't cook sausage special for a strata, it's more like, leftover ham or meat ends, or just veggies.

That way if you and your guests want to go out and shop or go sightseeing, or just laze around, you're not playing short order cook.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:55 AM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Bread for sure. This book really has changed the way I make bread. Basically the idea is to always have premade dough in your fridge, so all you have to do when you want some is turn on the oven. It's good stuff!
posted by csox at 7:32 AM on October 3, 2012

Best answer: I used to keep a container of premade muffin mix in my fridge. If I wanted a nice breakfast in the morning I could throw some batter into a few muffin cups, mix in frozen berries or chocolate chips, and bake them in my toaster oven.

My recent forays into culinary science suggest that I should have added the baking soda at the last minute to keep them fluffy, but I don't recall them being flat or unpleasant.
posted by catalytics at 7:44 AM on October 3, 2012

Best answer: I like to eat vegetables and eggs for breakfast, but the veggies take too long to cook in the morning. So on the weekend, I make up a big batch of sauteed onions, mushrooms, spinach (plus whatever leftover veg is in my fridge) and just store it in a big container in the fridge. Each morning, i put a scoop of veg in a pyrex dish, fry an egg over easy and put it on top of the veg and put the lid on. I bring it to work and use the microwave to heat it up and then eat breakfast at my desk. If you eat at home, it's just as easy to heat the veg either in microwave or in the egg pan.

I know people who keep cookie dough balls in their freezer so they can make a few cookies in the toaster oven anytime, but those dough balls don't last in my house.
posted by CathyG at 9:56 AM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Most recipes for biscuits and pie crusts (where layering is desirable) you must pre-chill your butter. I keep butter in the freezer and then grate it for biscuits.

Like cookie dough, many things can be pre-portioned and frozen. Usually this means freezing it on a sheet, in cupcake tins, or ice trays (depending on the form and portion-size) and then bagging the frozen contents from the sheet. Herbs, egg-whites, stock, roux, cooked meats (like shredded beef/chicken).

And of course, I know that it is your ambition to pickle things. Many things.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:35 AM on October 3, 2012

Response by poster: Dammit you guys. I'm all hungry now from reading these suggestions, and I didn't prepare anything last night.

posted by moonmilk at 6:00 AM on October 4, 2012

Response by poster: Followup to veggieboy's suggestion of cold-brewed oatmeal: soaking steel-cut oats in yogurt overnight is also really good. Muesli works great that way too, though unless it's really hearty stuff, it gets a lot mushier overnight than the steel-cut oats.
posted by moonmilk at 7:13 AM on August 28, 2013

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