I love to cook, but I’m not always going to have all the fresh and most desirable of ingredients on hand, so I rely on a few cheats you might find worthwhile. These are heresy to the Culinary Institute grads, but I’m not one. Home cooking is still best, so we might as well find ways to make it good and easy.
#1- I rarely use fresh garlic. I can’t stand the smell on my hands or the mess of chopping it; and I may not have any on hand. I usually only buy fresh garlic for making roasted garlic appetizers or soup. My cheat is to keep jars of minced garlic on hand. I find there is very little difference in flavor, and a lot less effort. I also use garlic powder in lots of soups, and stews, just because I like the milder flavor.
#2- I keep dried/dehydrated minced onion on hand for quick use when I don’t feel like chopping up an onion. or don’t have one in the pantry. Very good in soups, stews, casseroles. Sometimes I use dried with fresh, just for the flavor depth.
#3- Canned tomatoes are best in most cooked dishes in my opinion. Fresh is nice, but a lot of work to get to the same point.
#4-Egg whites in a carton. I buy local pastured eggs, but for a few things where you need a lot of egg white, I just buy a carton of them. They keep a long time in the refrigerator.
#5-Dried herbs are good to have on hand. I grow herbs in the summer, but half the year I don’t tend to have fresh herbs at the ready. Some things, like dill and cilantro are good only when fresh, but most herbs are fine dried, and a little rehydration works wonders.
I’ll add to the list as I think of others. If you have any good cheats, let us know.