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7 Smart Kitchen Shortcuts You Should Be Taking

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Kitchen shortcuts are something I rely on for almost every single meal that ends up on our dinner table. Usually it’s just one or two, but sometimes its many! When it comes to easy weeknight dinner recipes, I’ve figured out where to save some time and effort – without sacrificing any flavor.

Looking to shave off a little time those weeknight dinners? These 7 shortcuts will do just that!

Plus, one you should never use!

Pin these no-brainer kitchen hacks for later!

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Prepped Veggies

Any vegetables that take some time to chop or trim are ones that I will buy pre-trimmed! Broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, trimmed green beans, shredded cabbage, salad greens, and riced cauliflower (I buy this frozen) are all great ones to try.

TIP: Make sure the produce looks fresh, if it’s starting to brown or look mushy, that you pick a bag that looks good. skilllet with beef and broccoli stir fry

Recipes Using this Kitchen Shortcut:

  • Beef & Broccoli Rice Bowls – This healthy weeknight dinner takes just 20 minutes to make and covers everything you need in a meal: protein, grain, veggies, and flavor!
  • Blue Cheese Steak Salads – Here, roasted red peppers and prepared salad greens make this salad come together quickly.
  • Mexican Cauliflower Rice – Once I started buying riced cauliflower, I never looked back! This simple side that’s loaded with veggies takes just 5 minutes to prep.

Store Bought Marinara Sauce

Ahhhhhh, this is one of the best kitchen shortcuts. Now, there is definitely a time and a place for homemade marinara…and there is definitely a time for store bought marinara!

I use store bought for pasta sometimes, but usually I use it as a flavorful base for soups instead of canned or diced tomatoes. Way more flavor and I don’t have to spend the time to make it happen.

TIP: Make sure that you buy a basic marinara for some of these recipes, you don’t need a Basil & Parmesan Marinara for taco soup.

bowl of easy chicken taco soup with toppings and spoon

Recipes Using this Kitchen Shortcut:

  • Homemade Chili – Thanks to this weeknight dinner shortcut, this chili doesn’t need hours simmering on the stove to develop flavors. This recipe has won multiple chili cook-offs!
  • Easy Minestrone Soup – This flavorful soup is loaded with veggies, vegetarian protein, and the secret soup shortcut…marinara!
  • Easy Pasta Fagioli Soup – Comfort food in a bowl, families love this easy, 30-minute soup recipe.

Prepped Proteins

Protein is often a component of your weeknight dinner that takes the longest to make or cook, but there are plenty of short cuts to cut this cooking time down. Rotisserie chicken, cooked shrimp, canned beans, canned fish, and even shredded cheese can give any meal a protein boost without much work.

TIP: For items like canned beans, choose low-sodium options as you can always add more salt later.

chickpea dinner recipe with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers

Recipes Using this Kitchen Shortcut:

  • Greek Chickpea Skillet – Almost 30 grams of vegetarian protein in this filling meal. Even meat-lovers will approve.
  • Healthy English Breakfast – English beans (or baked if you can’t find them) and breakfast sausages are quick protein sources in this famous breakfast (that can be eaten any time of day!).
  • Garlic Shrimp with Orzo – Easy enough for a weeknight dinner, delicious enough for a simple date night diner.

Ground Meat

You already know that proteins often take longest to cook…but ground meat cooks in less than 10 minutes! It can be used in a stir fry, for burgers, for soups, or casseroles.

TIP: Choose a ground meat that has a bit of fat in it, 99% fat free turkey or chicken (or ground meat with all white meat) always ends up dry no matter what you do with it.

meal prep with ground turkey

Recipes Using this Kitchen Shortcut:

Microwavable Grains

Some grains take too to cook, and that just doesn’t always work with quick weeknight meals. You’ll pay more for the microwavable options, but they cook in just a few minutes.

TIP: If you want to prep grains ahead, cook a double batch and freeze them. They reheat really well. slow cooker chicken burrito bowls 7

Recipes Using this Kitchen Shortcut:

Salad Dressing

To make or buy salad dressing…it’s honestly kind of controversial! There are times that call for homemade dressing (if a homemade dressing will really upgrade your salad) and there are times that the difference between getting a vegetable on the dinner table and not, relies on a dressing that is ready-to-go.

TIP: Choose high-quality dressings made from ingredients you know – they’ll taste better! Newman’s Own, Brianna’s, or Salad Girl are great options.

cherry chicken pasta salad

Recipes Using this Kitchen Shortcut:

  • Chicken Caesar Panzanella – The chicken in this salad recipe is marinated in a pre-made dressing…and then we make our own dressing for the salad itself.
  • Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad – Just 7 ingredients to make this summer time staple!
  • Easy Taco Salad – When we had Taco Salads growing up, French dressing was always part of the recipe!

Pureed Garlic and Herbs

Fresh garlic is amazing, there is no doubt about it! But sometimes when you need a few extra minutes, frozen or pureed garlic and herbs is the way to go!

I always like to have garlic and ginger cubes in the freezer and tubes of lemongrass in the fridge.

Easy Bibimbap Bowls | loaded with flavor: crispy rice, tasty ground beef, pungent kimchee and luscious fried eggs!

Recipes Using this Kitchen Shortcut:

  • Thai Lettuce Wraps – Light, flavorful meal that’s ready in just 15 minutes.
  • Easy Bibimbap Bowls – So many shortcuts going on in this Korean-inspired weeknight dinner.
  • Thai Beef Noodle Stir Fry – I made this with fresh lemongrass and the stuff from a tube…tube had way better flavor AND was much easier to work with.

And the kitchen short cut to NEVER use?

Citrus juice!

Lemon and lime juice is so much better fresh, and takes just a few seconds to get it ready to use. Yes, it’s convenient to have it already, but it’s just not a kitchen shortcut that is worth it!

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