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Useful food buys to save time.

(92 Posts)
Sallywally1 Sat 06-Mar-21 18:20:28

It sounds lazy, but for me ready prepared casserole mixes are lovely. Brown the meat, add the vegetables and the gravy and herbs etc and bung in the slow cooker. What Delia Smith called a ‘cheat’. I do still work though so time/energy can be in short supply.

Anyone else?

spottysocks Sat 06-Mar-21 18:30:00

I always make sure we have a few of these in the cupboard too. But I don't bother browning the meat or vegetables, I just bung it all in together. Delish! smile

Pantglas2 Sat 06-Mar-21 18:31:22

When I worked I also bought ‘cheats’ like jars of crushed ginger, chillies and garlic, ready made meals occasionally but now I’m retired the one thing I do have is time in abundance.

I also quite like pootling about in the kitchen mindlessly chopping and stirring so I mostly start from scratch these days.

crazyH Sat 06-Mar-21 18:31:41

Victoria Sponge

Blossoming Sat 06-Mar-21 19:03:39

Tinned tomatoes can be the base for so many meals.

3dognight Sat 06-Mar-21 19:20:32

I too use the 'Shwartz' or 'Colmans' range for all sorts of meals. They are mostly delicious, and I always reduce the meat amount and make up with different veg. Also they are supposed to feed four, but two of us eat it, with abit of gravy for dogs.

I did their tuna pasta bake last week, and it was so good I'm doing it again this week, I added a cup of chopped mixed peppers, and a handful,of sweetcorn, quick fried and added halfway through cooking time as the extra ingredients.

This is inspired cheating!

Elegran Sat 06-Mar-21 19:27:10

Tesco Chef's Base, a 400g bag of finely diced onion, carrot and celery (called mirepoix by professionals) Use as a base in recipes for soups or casseroles.

Jaxjacky Sat 06-Mar-21 19:37:31

Frozen stewpacks of vegetables, jars of curry sauce, cornflour for thickening.

MiniMoon Sat 06-Mar-21 19:39:15

Frozen diced shallots/onions. I find them better for my acid reflux than fresh onions.
Idahoan perfect mash, far superior to Smash and quick if you are in a hurry or need mash but have no potatoes.
I like the Spice Tailor sauce and spice pouches too.

welbeck Sat 06-Mar-21 19:39:30

i throw in some cous-cous to my instant soup.

MayBee70 Sat 06-Mar-21 20:13:13

Bisto sauces. Used to worry about not being able to obtain cheese and milk due to not going shopping but their cheese sauce and a bag of macaroni means I can always make macaroni cheese. It is better with milk and real cheese added, though. And I’ve always got some dried mushrooms in my larder to add to it. I bought lots of Sacka sauces recently as well.

MayBee70 Sat 06-Mar-21 20:13:24


Grandmadinosaur Sat 06-Mar-21 20:19:13

I’m a fan of frozen diced onions too. Also frozen chopped peppers, mushrooms,celeriac and butternut squash. All ideal for soups, tomato sauce base for chillis, bolognese,curry etc.
Saying that I do have all these ingredients as a fresh option but am more inclined to make such a dish with the frozen ones if I can’t be a***d to stand chopping etc.

Witzend Sat 06-Mar-21 20:30:46

I make quite a few stir fries etc. and until a couple of years ago would always buy fresh ginger and chillis to chop or grate.
But then I found the little jars of ginger and red chilli paste in Asda (Easy Ginger/Garlic) - they’re honestly brilliant.
I haven’t gone so far as to try the Easy Garlic though - a step too far even for me.

V3ra Sat 06-Mar-21 20:33:58

My husband has largely taken over the cooking as he is on furlough again, while I'm still working.
Some days he cooks from scratch, usually aided by Mary Berry.
His favourite "cheat" is an M&S or Morrisons meal deal: main, side, dessert, bottle of wine.
Suits me 😋🍷

Hetty58 Sat 06-Mar-21 21:06:53

I cut corners with ready-cooked tinned green lentils and pinto beans, frozen berries and Marigold yeast flakes and bouillon powder.

Cooking batches of favourite meals means a supply of frozen 'ready meals' are on hand. If I'm feeling lazy I'm quite happy with a microwaved frozen jacket potato. Waitrose have some good vegan ready meals too.

M0nica Sat 06-Mar-21 21:45:40

I do an awful lot of these things, from not frying meat to tinned lentils. I just never realised they were shortcuts.

Almost all the recipes with tinned tomatoes in were developed because tinned tomatoes were in the shops. Before them it was all brown stews. What is cornflour a short cut for? I have used it since I started cooking as a thickener for sauces. What should I have been doing?

Lexisgranny Sat 06-Mar-21 21:55:15

Frozen diced onions and frozen cabbage, the former to save time and the latter to save waste.

Jaxjacky Sat 06-Mar-21 21:58:42

MOnica I use it in Indian breads, some Chinese and Indian meals and on the rare occasions (visitors) I make desserts, it’s gluten free and helps with my acid reflux.

M0nica Sat 06-Mar-21 22:06:28

Jaxjacky I use a lot of cornflour, always have, but someone suggested it was a shortcut instead of using a more time consuming process and rack my brains, though I have I cannot think of any more complicated for thickening sources.

Some things can be thickened by reducing them, sauces, especially with milk, what is the alternative to cornflour or flour?

Nannytopsy Sun 07-Mar-21 00:31:00

A beurre manis with butter and flour is the “proper” way to thicken milk sauces but I normally use cornflour. Tesco did frozen cheese sauce until recently which was great if you just wanted a bit.

MaizieD Sun 07-Mar-21 00:49:32

Buerre manie is flour and butter mashed together that you can drop raw bits of into any lquid to thicken it. Classic white sauce is flour and butter cooked, a roux, to which you add milk and beat or whisk like mad as it boils and thickens.

I'd call cornflour a shortcut for sauces, but I always use it to thicken gravy and stews made in the pressure cooker.

I think commercial mayonnaise is a shortcut, but who makes their own mayonnaise?

Ro60 Sun 07-Mar-21 01:22:44

Pesto, pizza bases, tomato puree (does that count?) Bird's custard powder, puff psstry.
Shorter list now there's just me & semi-retired. Alternatively,
love (-ed) eating out

nanna8 Sun 07-Mar-21 01:34:00

I always have mincemeat in the freezer and buy it in bulk for pasta dishes, curries, shepherds pies etc. Also, when we go to Costco I buy bulk chicken fillets and fish, divide it up into 2 serves and use that thing you get in Aldis to vacuum seal it and then freeze it. Always something there to eat.

kittylester Sun 07-Mar-21 07:28:11

I have a selection of frozen veg in the freezer including/especially chopped onions and peas. I use the chopped onions for batch cooking but not if I just need one onion.

My tip is to buy frozen cauliflower cheese from Sainsbury's. You can use as much or a little as you like, is gluten free and delicious.