Somewhere along the way, "convenience," considered a positive in almost all other pursuits, came to have a bad connotation when referring to food. It's time to alter that perception.
All cooks aspire to prepare tasty, creative homemade meals, but sometimes circumstances conspire against us.
If you're caught between overtime and dinnertime, use these tips for streamlining cooking chores.
We asked readers to share their creative cooking shortcuts and favorite convenience foods and added a few of our own.
_Use the crock pot. Cheap stew beef tastes great after all day in the crock pot. Serve with rice and rolls. Roasts, stews or spaghetti sauces also can cook all day in a crock pot. _ Linda Fuller, White Rock, S.C.
_The microwave is not just for defrosting and reheating. It does an excellent job of cooking many foods such as vegetables and rice.
_Opt for fast cooking methods such as broiling, grilling and steaming.
_Depend on lightly seasoned fresh or frozen vegetables, prepared salad mixes or stir-fries. For example, a pound of roasted asparagus can be eaten cold over a few days, or a few seconds in the microwave will take the chill off.
_Clean as you go. If you have no time for cleanup, there are always paper plates.
_Choose simple recipes or look for ways to cut steps in long recipes. Substituting a jar of spaghetti sauce for homemade in lasagna or using canned beans can save an hour or more of preparation time for some recipes.
_Avoid mess when …