Saturday Thoughts...Making Scratch Cooking Faster


  When I’d rather go out for a meal instead of “eating groceries”, I usually am tired of cooking.  Here’s an example of a quickie recipe I have made even easier…and it’s one I make on those days I’m tired of cooking.   
There are three ways I make this recipe easier.  The first is that I already had the vegetables cleaned, chopped or sliced and bagged up in the freezer.  When I buy a bunch of celery I slice what I don’t use right away and bag it up for the freezer.  I buy extra peppers when they are on sale and cut some in wedges that I use like that or slice or chop for a recipe, and I also bag some up that are chopped.  Again, in the freezer.  The same thing with onions…I buy extra on sale and slice some vertically and chop some and bag them up.  When I’m ready for soup or stir fry or casseroles I just break off what I want, return the rest to the freezer and proceed with the recipe.  Even in stir fries the frozen vegetables are acceptable in texture and I save both time and bucks. 
I also had my sausages already portioned out for recipes in the freezer from a large bulk bag of sausages I bought on sale.  I portioned them out before freezing them at home.  I use any kind of sausage links I have on hand for most of my sausage meals.  I can usually buy them fairly cheaply frozen at our nearest Amish/Mennonite store. 
I use my instant pot or pressure cooker to save time with rice.  I usually make at least 3 cups of white rice or wild rice/brown rice mix and bag it up in 1 cup packages for the freezer.  It thaws quickly and I can reheat it quickly in my stir-fry pan for this recipe or in the microwave for a side dish.  I do this when I don’t have a busy afternoon and I have it ready for my menu anytime.
The other timesaver is “Mise en Place” or everything in its place…I had my ingredients on a small tray…the veggies together because they cook about the same time, and the sausages sliced up, and the freezer bag of rice.  With the butter, oil and maple syrup, I had everything ready to cook in less than 10 minutes.  I organized most of my ingredients at breakfast time for lunch and kept them refrigerated until I was ready to cook.  I also set my table and set out my pan ready for cooking.
I serve a dish like this with fruit for dessert…or with any leftover dessert I might have on hand.  Fast, fast and cheap too. 

                           Maple Sausage Skillet
  2          teaspoons  cooking oil -- olive oil, corn oil
  2          teaspoons  butter
  2 or 3  ounces  sausage links -- sliced
     1/4   cup  sliced fresh mushrooms
     1/2   medium  green pepper -- thinly sliced
     1/2    small  onion -- halved and sliced
     1/2   celery rib -- sliced
  1          tablespoon  maple syrup
              pepper -- to taste
  1          cup  cooked rice
In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add vegetables; cook and stir 3-4 minutes longer or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in cold cooked rice.  Stir in syrup and pepper; heat through.  Serves two.
Mise en place (MEEZ ahn plahs) is a French term for having all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, etc. before you start cooking. Pans are prepared. Mixing bowls, tools and equipment set out. It is a technique chefs use to assemble meals so quickly and effortlessly.


  1. Thank you. These are things I can do, especially chopping and freezing vegetables ahead of time. I hate it when a recipe has a short prep time posted but it calls for chopped this and that. It doubles the actual time for me.

  2. Tricks of the trade from a great homemaker! Yep, cooking can be made easier but it does take a bit of thinking and organizing . . . until it becomes a habit! You always put forth your methods of organization in a simple, easy to follow way. Thanks!

  3. Oh that Dennis the Menace - too cute.

  4. This is very much what I do. I spent all Sunday morning last week getting sale peppers chopped and bagged for the freezer (it also saves money, since I'm not going out buying them when they're more expensive!), and both last weekend and this weekend, I sliced mushrooms to go into the dehydrator so I can grab a handful at some later date to toss in soup. I don't prepare everything I buy immediately, but the little things I do do when I get a chance saves me a lot of time in the kitchen, as do my Instant Pot and rice cooker! We almost never eat out, and this was true pre-pandemic as well.

  5. Looks like a good recipe! Thanks!


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