Equip a Make Ahead Kitchen

Get in on the make-ahead movement to make family dinners less stressful! Last week, we highlighted some great advice for planning to cook less frequently during the week. This week, we recommend that you take stock of your kitchen equipment with the help of America’s Test Kitchen, which has a thoughtful and nicely explained list of essentials for eating on a make-ahead schedule.

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Here are a few additions to their list to consider:

1. Slow cooker

Whether you choose to rock breakfast with overnight oatmeal or slam-dunk supper with simple and inexpensive baked beans, a slow cooker is a critical helper on the road to healthy, cheap and delicious eating. For most recipes, you can cook a meal in four hours on high or eight on low. Leave the lid on unless you must stir–every time the lid is opened, heat is lost, which can increase cooking time significantly.

2. Glass storage containers

Mason jars are an ever-popular favorite, but saving glass jars from foods like salsa and peanut butter is a fantastic way to save money while boosting your ability to freeze essential ingredients like chicken stock in handy portions while remaining confident that it’s safe to thaw your ingredients in the microwave (many plastics should not be microwaved). Be sure to leave a couple inches of headroom to prevent shattering–foods, especially liquids, expand when frozen.

3. Stock pot

Not every kitchen has room for the massively unwieldy classic stock pot, but the larger your stock pot, the more room you have to increase the scale of basic essentials…like stock. Cooking down stock is a time consuming process, but you can get a large quantity from a single bird. If you don’t have the room, call your local library to see if they have a kitchen tools lending program–you may be able to borrow one as needed.

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