Cooking dinner while having an active toddler who is currently going through his mind-numbing terrible two's means that you HAVE to make some shortcuts.
Here are some time-saving tricks that I've learned over the years...
I buy peeled garlic cloves in BULK and mince them ALL up in my food processor. I store them in plastic bags and spread it out thinly. Then I store them in my freezer and I can break off pieces when I need it. Often I'll break off big pieces and keep it stored in a separate plastic container in my fridge for easy access. I think I had close to 10 plastic bags of garlic last month and I've used most of them up. Minced garlic is used a lot in Korean cooking, so stock up!
Meats~ As soon as I bring home my meat products from the market, I saran wrap single size portions of them. Whether it's pork for kimchi jji-gae or beef for gooks they all get saran wrapped for easy use. Whenever I need them, I pop it into the microwave and blast it for 15 seconds on EACH SIDE. This defrosts it perfectly for immediate use.
Red pepper powder - Red pepper powder gets stale after a while so it's best to keep the bag stored in your freezer for maximum freshness. Then I store a good amount in those TWIST-LOCK containers and keep it in my refrigerator door for easy access. I had a BIG accident once where it dropped out of normal tupperware and the lid fell off and made a mess on my kitchen floor. Red pepper all over your kitchen floor is not fun.
I also keep a small amount on my spice rack for even EASIER access. It's all about speed when you have a toddler vying for your attention.
Green onions (scallions) - I wash and chop 2 bunches each week and keep it in an airtight container in my fridge. You can even freeze it, but I tend to use it all in the week anyhow, so it's fine in the fridge. Plus, my freezer space is VERY limited.
One of my commenters made me remember that I also peel and saran wrap my ginger (I used to put a bunch in ziploc bags but quickly realized that they got freezer burn). I saw this on Rachel Ray once and it's AWESOME! You can keep the ginger forever and when you need it, all you have to do it grate off however much you need.
I'm sure you have all seen these little tea bags filled with dashima and anchovies on my blog numerous times by now. I fill up a BUNCH of them whenever I have time and then store them all in ziploc bags in my freezer. I make sure to clean out the anchovies beforehand, but this last time my wonderful MIL brought me TWO big ziploc bags of anchovies that SHE personally cleaned out herself! So I probably don't have to worry about cleaning anchovies for the next year. =)
I would not be able to do anything without this mandolin! It is my sanity saver. =P I had to do without one of these in Korea and my time in the kitchen was doubled!
Anyhow, that's all I could think of this morning. I'll update this list as I go...
Are there any time saving tips that you use at your home? I would LOVE to know!