6 Ingredients You Can Prep Now and Use Later

Spend time now, save time later — here are six things you can prep for quicker, tastier meals in your near future.

©2012, Television Food NEtwork, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Baked Potatoes

Made one too many potatoes for dinner? You should do it more often — precooked potatoes make great shortcuts. Dice and toss them in a mustardy vinaigrette for a quick potato salad, mash them with butter and cream or scoop them back into their skins for the quickest twice-baked potato ever. Cold baked potatoes are also the secret to perfectly crispy fries with fluffy centers.

 

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Instant Pancake Mix

The homemade version of this beloved breakfast treat always tastes better, but hectic weekday mornings are no time to measure and sift. To make everyday indulgence a reality, mix a large batch of the dry ingredients, store it in an airtight container and attach a quick note specifying what wet ingredients to add to each cup. 

Compound Butter

Flavoring your own butter is a neat way to dress up weeknight meals or impress dinner guests. Just mix up your favorite flavor combinations with room-temperature butter (herbs, spices, acids, citrus and sweeteners are all fair game), roll it up into a log with plastic wrap and use within a week or freeze in individual slices. A slice of chipotle-lime butter over corn would be delicious, as would radishes dipped into a dill-scallion-parsley version.

Vegetables for Stock

Gather the odds and ends of vegetables and herbs into a freezer bag as you prep them throughout the week (carrots, onion, celery, leeks and parsley stems all work well). Once you have a full bag of frozen vegetable scraps, put them in a stockpot, cover with 1 to 2 inches of water, boil and simmer until you like the flavor. A handful of dried mushrooms or a piece of kombu helps add savory, meaty flavor.

Smoothie Kits

Why make one smoothie when you can make 10? The next time you prep fruits and vegetables for your smoothie, do a larger batch and freeze your go-to combinations in individual zip-top bags. All you'll have to do later is blitz the contents of a bag with a liquid base of your choice.

Infused Vinegar

Infused vinegar is a cheap, deceptively easy way to add a personal touch to vinaigrettes, sauces and marinades. Just place your desired flavoring agents in a sterilized jar or bottle with an airtight lid — experiment with herbs, some citrus peel, chiles or whole spices. Bring some white vinegar up to a simmer and pour it inside, then close and let the flavors develop for 2 weeks before straining it.

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