Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Savor the Flavor Tip #9 - Get Cooking

Preparing foods at home can be healthy, rewarding and cost-effective. Resolve to learn some cooking and kitchen basics, like how to dice an onion or cook dried beans. The collection of How do I…videos at will get you started.

I find the biggest challenge to cooking healthy meals, is getting started.  After a long day at work and after hour meetings, it just seems easier to grab something on the way home.  But after a while we get bored with the choices.  Here are some tips that have worked for our family.

Have a plan,so when you get home, you don't have to think about what sounds good, you can just get started. 

Make a week's plan.  On Friday nights if we were home, I would get out the calendar and look at the next week's schedule of activities and estimate how much time we would have to prepare a meal.  Then I would review the grocery ad and plan menus around what was on sale.  Then when I went to the store, I knew what ingredients I needed to get.

Cook extra food on weekends.  Since we eat lunch at home too, but do not have time to prepare anything.  I prepared several dishes on the weekends, so we would not have to cook much the first half of the week, just reheat.  Also I would double recipes and have planned leftovers.

Making two casseroles and freezing one for later.

Utilize your slow cooker to have a delicious meal ready when you get home.

Utilize batch cooking recipes.  Batch cooking involves making a large amount of an ingredient. freezing it in portions and then using in a variety of recipes.  One batch is seasoned ground beef, that can be used as sloppy joes, spaghetti, or stuffed bell peppers

Wash and prep your fresh vegetables for more than meal.

Have some easy family favorite recipes that you rotate into your meal plan.

Make it a goal to try one next recipe a month to add to your family favorites.

Over your week, your meal plan should include a variety of meats, vegetables and fruits.  Be sure to include all food groups.  Limit high calorie foods.  Make sure to include whole grains.

Here is a sample of how I make it work.  If I planned a slow cooker meal, I might peel the potatoes and carrots the night before and put in the refrigerator in a container of water.  Then at lunch, I just have to brown the meat, cut an onion, add my seasoning and put it all in the crockpot.  Dinner is ready when we get home after meetings or ball games.

I find one skillet meals to be fast and easy.  Here is an easy family friendly recipe guaranteed to fit into your budget.  Just add a salad or some fruit.

Ramen Hamburger Skillet Supper

Ready in 15 minutes

1 pound ground beef
2  packages (3 ounces) ramen noodles
2 cups water
2 cups frozen vegetables, thawed

In a skillet, cook beef until no longer pink; drain.  Add noodles with contents of 1 seasoning packet and water.  Bring to a boil; cook for 3 minutes or until noodles are tender.  Add the vegetables and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.  Yield 4 1-cup servings.  Vary recipe by using different flavors of ramen noodles and different frozen vegetable mixes.  My favorite is oriental flavored ramen and frozen broccoli.

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