Category Archives: cooking quick tips

Freezer Meals Storage and Reheating Tips

Making and freezing meals ahead can be a real life saver! #realfood #freezermeals #homemade #homecooking

A photo posted by ✨ Melody Thacker ✨💖🌟💫 (@melody_thacker) on

I love freezer meals because they save me time and money. If you have always wanted to try your hand at freezer cooking but thought you’d have to purchase dozens of plastic food storage containers and freezer-safe casserole dishes you are in luck. As it turns out you only need a couple of casserole dishes and a few food storage containers! Here are some tips on how to freeze, store, and reheat all of your meals:

You will want to stock up on aluminum foil or parchment paper, both gallon and quart sized plastic freezer bags and some labels. Continue reading Freezer Meals Storage and Reheating Tips

Quick Breakfast Ideas To Fuel Your Family

waffles with berries for breakfastMornings can be pretty hectic for most people, all too often breakfast is skipped or it’s something unhealthy, eaten on the run. Adults are rushing off to work, children need to get to school and breakfast just doesn’t seem important at that time. Following are some quick breakfast ideas for you that are nutritious and quick.

But I don’t eat breakfast! I’m sure you have heard the saying, “Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day” and it’s certainly true especially when it comes to children. Countless studies have shown that children who eat a balanced breakfast are more alert in school, perform better and in many cases are less prone to bad behavior than children who don’t eat breakfast. These are pretty good reasons why your kids should eat breakfast and you’ll enjoy the same benefits too.

Here are some quick and easy breakfast ideas for you and your kids: Continue reading Quick Breakfast Ideas To Fuel Your Family

Cooking Quick Tips For Bacon

BaconWe love bacon, but unfortunately it’s not one of the healthiest foods and it can make a big mess in the kitchen that you have to clean up after wards. If you are a bacon lover too here are some quick tips for cooking bacon.

  • Precook the entire package or several packages at once, cook until almost done. Store the pre-cooked bacon in the freezer until needed. This way you can reheat just the amount you need with out all the grease and mess. Heat in the microwave or a fry pan.
  • Cook bacon in a counter top grill, this keeps all the grease and splatters to a minimum.
  • Cut bacon strips in half, they are easier to work with. Plus it looks like you have more pieces on your plate.  Great tip if you are watching your calorie or fat intake.
  • Drain cooked bacon on paper towel to remove excess fat. Pat with a fresh paper towel to remove more grease.

Simple Time Saving Cooking Tips

If you are like me, cooking may not be your one of your favorite chores, but we need to eat, so it is something that needs to be done every day. Thankfully, there are many time management techniques that you can use to make cooking your family’s meals faster and simpler.

family meal time

One of the easiest ways to save time during the week is to plan your meals ahead of time. Yes, I am suggesting the dreaded menu planning! This will free up the time you spend each night trying to decide what to make for dinner, racing to the grocery store, standing in line to pay for your purchases, and then driving back home to cook your meal.

Instead, once a week you’ll sit down, write out the meals you’ll have during the week, and make one trip to the grocery store. When you plan your meals according to what is on sale that week, this will also help you save money.

The following are some more tips to help you save time, but still provide tasty and healthy meals for your family:

  • The casserole was very popular in the 1970’s, but it fell out of fashion during the 80’s and 90’s. Yesterday’s busy woman’s favorite stand by meal is making a come back among today’s busy families and for good reason. This is a one pot dinner that is quick and easy to make and easy to clean up too, since there is only the one dish plus plates and silverware to wash.
  • Now that you’ve discovered casseroles, you may also want to consider freezer cooking. With this method of cooking, you’ll spend one weekend preparing a month’s worth of dinners and then you’ll store them in the freezer. Many casseroles are perfect for freezer cooking too. At night, you’ll take out the next day’s dinner and let it thaw in the fridge. About an hour before dinner, just pop that night’s meal into the oven, maybe toss up a salad and your family will sit down to wonderful home cooked meal.
  • Are you using your slow cooker? This is a great time saving appliance when it comes to cooking. When you get up in the morning, simply add the ingredients for your meal and let it simmer all day. When you are ready to eat, your dinner will be hot and ready to eat. The slow cooker doesn’t heat up you house like the oven does so it’s great for cooking year round! Again, there is only one pot to wash so clean up will be a breeze and if your slow cooker is large, you might have extra to freeze for another meal!
  • You can also plan ahead by cooking extra, in order to create quick and easy meals throughout the week. I really do love leftovers, for instance, using Pot Roast as an example, you can cook enough for two meals, use the leftover roast to make a stir fry or sandwiches for packed lunches.

Do you have some simple, short cut cooking tips? Please do share them with us in the comments!

Four Reasons Why You Need A Well Stocked Pantry

My mother taught me four great reasons why you need a well stocked pantry and freezer. In our modern world we often shop for groceries every day, just picking up what we need for the for the time being. Do you ask yourself if is this really is the best way to manage your shopping? Having a well stocked pantry will save you money, save time, plus you’ll enjoy less stress or worry and ensure that you have food during an emergency.

Stocking your pantry with commonly used ingredients will save you lots of time. You’ll spend less time shopping for food and it will make it easier for you to plan and serve meals when you have your most commonly used ingredients on hand. Nothing is worse than searching through recipes for tonight’s dinner and then finding out you are missing key ingredients.

If you purchase non-perishable foods and pantry essentials on sale and, or in bulk you’ll save money. You’ll also save money because you are organized and prepared so you’ll do less spur of the moment purchases for higher priced ingredients and you’ll also buy less prepared or expensive take out foods. An added benefit, already prepared foods and take out are not as healthy for your family either! Don’t forget every trip to the store costs you money for fuel plus wear and tear on your vehicle so you’ll also save money by reducing your transportation expenses.

You’ll be prepared in the case of emergencies! You never know when you’ll have to face an emergency due to bad weather, a natural disaster, illness or a loss of income. What if the supermarket’s shelves are bare because goods can’t be delivered due to a snow storm? Imagine dragging yourself or sick kids to the store when you have the flu. It doesn’t sound like much fun! If you have a well stocked pantry and freezer this won’t be a worry for you.

Life will definitely be less stressful if you have a some extra groceries on hand. Your menu planning will be easier, you’ll save time by running to the store less often, you’ll be prepared for an emergency and having extra money also means less financial worries.

What do you think? Do you prefer to have a well stocked pantry or do you prefer to do your grocery shopping daily? Do tell, we’d love to know!

How To Sterilize Canning Jars

If you are making homemade jams, jellies or pickles you’ll need to sterilize your jars before you fill them with your preserves. To sterilize jars, place them in a large pot or canner, cover them with hot water, bring water to a boil and leave jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Then, place jars upside down on a clean towel or rack to drain.

If you are sealing your preserves you’ll need to sterilize the lids as well. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for sterilizing these, they are usually placed in boiling water as well.

I also sterilize my utensils as well; this includes the ladle, spoon and funnel for filling jars and the tongs or magnetic wand used for picking up hot lids and jars out of the water.

Although this is no longer recommended, jars may also be sterilized in the oven. I prefer this method for jams and jellies as it ensures the jars are dry, so there is no added moisture. However please note, I sterilize everything in boiling water first so I’m basically just keeping the jars hot and sterile. I highly recommend that you do the same.

So, after you remove your jars from the boiling water… Place the jars in the oven, I put them on a clean cookie sheet, turn the heat to 200 deg. F, once the oven has reached temperature, heat jars for 10 minutes. Then, turn off the oven leaving the jars inside until ready to fill.

Kitchen Safety

Cooking can be a relaxing and enjoyable pastime. Unfortunately, the kitchen is also the most common room in the home where accidents occur. These kitchen safety tips will help keep you and others safe while you’re cooking and eating.

Hot pots and appliances, boiling water, splattering grease and oil, sharp knives; all these things are common in a kitchen. They can also be the things that make working in a kitchen a dangerous place. Keeping your kitchen clean to avoid contaminating the food is also important.

Watkins Lemon All Purpose CleanerFirst of all, make sure that your kitchen is clean from top to bottom, inside and out, this will prevent cross-contamination of dirt, bacteria and germs.

  • Get in the habit of washing your hands before handling foods and after handling raw meat.
  • Keep raw meat in a separate area of your refrigerator. Keep it tightly wrapped or place it in a leak proof container so juices can’t contaminate other foods.
  • Wash the counter top or cutting board with hot, soapy water after you’ve finished handling raw meat.
  • It’s best to use separate cutting boards, one for raw meats and another for vegetables. Tip: color code your cutting boards or use a plastic one for meat and a wooden one for other foods, this way you won’t forget which to use.

Meats should be cooked to recommended internal temperatures as determined by the United States Dietary Association:

  • Steaks and Roasts – 145 degrees F
  • Egg dishes – 160 degrees F
  • Fish – 145 degrees F
  • Chicken breasts – 165 degrees F
  • Pork – 160 degrees F
  • Whole poultry – 165 degrees F
  • Ground beef – 160 degrees F

To keep food fresh longer, keep your refrigerator temperature set below 41 degrees F and your freezer should be kept at 0 degrees F. Date each item before it is placed in your freezer so that you can use it before it gets too old.

Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator overnight, in the microwave oven, or submerged in a bowl of cold water. Place the package in a watertight plastic bag, submerge in cold water, then change the water every 30 minutes until item is thawed. Don’t just leave the meat on the counter or in the sink to thaw as bacteria in the food can multiply and cause someone to get sick.

Preventing burns:

  • Teach your child which items might be hot and not to touch them with out your permission.
  • Invest in good quality, heat resistant pot holders and oven mitts. Don’t use a tea towel or dish cloth for this purpose, especially damp ones as the moisture can create a steam burn.
  • Keep pot handles turned so they are over the stove or counter top so someone walking by can’t accidentally knock them and their hot contents over.
  • Cover pans that contain hot grease or oil with a lid or splatter screen.

Knife safety:

  • Keep your knives sharp, believe it or not cuts happen less often and are less damaging with sharp knives.
  • Always cut away from yourself, never toward yourself.
  • Always use a cutting board, don’t place the food in your hand to cut it.
  • Don’t leave knives in the sink, especially in dish water where they can’t be seen.
  • Store knives point down in a butcher’s block or in some other special holder. This keeps them sharp longer and prevents cuts.

Last but not least, if you sample food as you cook use a clean spoon or fork each time. Taste testing just once can transfer germs from your mouth to the food.

Cooking can be hazardous, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. Simply follow the precautions mentioned above, then you will be cooking with confidence and the knowledge that you’re doing it in a safe, healthy manner.

New To Cooking? Try These Quick Tips!

new cooks Are you new to cooking or need some help? I’ve been cooking for years so am fairly experienced with it and thought I’d give you some quick tips:

  • Taste as you cook, after all taste is what good food is all about! Taste and add more seasonings as you go, remember you can always add more but if you add too much there’s not much you can do about it.
  • Do not use high! High heat is for boiling water, use medium to medium high heat for frying, or sauteing to avoid burning your food. You do not need to preheat your pan on high either.
  • Gather all your ingredients before you start cooking, then as you use them put any remaining away. This will ensure you don’t forget anything or add it twice!
  • Don’t be afraid to be creative, if you are out of an ingredient the recipe may taste fine with out it or if there is a spice you love, feel free to add more!
  • Try to clean as you go, this will prevent you from having to face a big mess with piles of dishes, pots and pans to clean up after your lovely meal.

I hope these five tips help you with your cooking adventures.