This was taken when we were engaged back in the day!
Here's my sad face after spending way too long on split pea soup to accidentally add 2 whole tablespoons of salt rather than 2 teaspoons. I had to pour it down the drain, and I quickly learned my lesson :)
If you clicked on this to get answers from someone who always has a complete, healthy, yummy dinner on the table each night you have come to the wrong place! But, I do think learning to cook for our families is an important skill … one which is developing still through much trial and error. It’s tricky to figure out how to cook on a student budget, how to get your kids to eat new things, how to find the right recipes, how to find the time to make the meal, and then how to face the mounds of dishes cooking creates afterwards! Even with all this craziness, I keep on trying. I really do enjoy the idea of cooking and how it can be a form of art, but more than that, I enjoy even more the look on my husband’s face when he bites into something delicious. Doesn’t always happen, but it is a thrill for me. Here are some ideas that have helped me survive in the kitchen:
- Over the last 3 years of marriage I think I have at least improved as a cook mostly just by trying and failing through lots of different recipes. Ask tons of other moms for their tried and true recipes. Click my “recipes” tab to view a growing list of our favorites.
- Cook up tons of chicken breasts, take off all the yucky parts, cube them, and store them in 2 cup measurments in the freezer. This saves so much time as you just throw in the defrosted chicken into soups and enchiladas and such. We’ve also done this to hamberger and even thrown in taco seasoning at times before freezing. We don’t really eat red meat much anymore.
- Plan ahead of time! Wow, this really does make all the difference if I will just take the time on the weekend to plan what meals I’m going to make that upcoming week so I can go grocery shopping.
- Prepare foods in advance. Sometimes I’ll make homemade lasagna the night before or a casserole in the morning so I can just pop it in the oven that night. Or other times I’ll do some possible prep work the morning like chopping up carrots, making a roux, or knead pizza dough that you can throw in the fridge and pull out later to rise.
- The freezer has become my friend. I’ve made lots of homemade guacamole when ingredients were on sale and then froze portions to quickly use later. Diced onions also freeze well and save a lot of time and mess later.
- Growing your food storage. Stocking up on often used cooking items when on sale has saved me so many times when I thought I might be out of something.
- Some moms I know plan out the whole month’s meals at a time. They assign each day to a different genre of foods like one night for Italian, Mexican, Crock-pot, Soups, etc to help add variety. With this system, it gives them the framework to easily plug in meals and gather recipes. When doing any planning, you quickly learn to be flexible but it really does help to have some kind of plan.
- I assume all moms have their quick staple meals they can whip out in minutes. Many times we as moms are on the go or busy raising our families that we forget about dinner. We often resort to grilled cheese (the tomato basil soup from Costco compliments this well), cheese quesadillas (with Lipton's Spanish rice side and guacamole if we're lucky), soups, and spaghetti. Oh you've got to try our homemade oatmeal/whole wheat pancakes (many moms tell me these completely ruin them because they never can have a regular pancake ever again! We whip up tons of pancake mix ahead of time and then throw in the liquid ingredients for a quick, yummy, healthy meal. We probably eat this severals time each week). What are your staple meals?!
- If you have a hard time getting in your vegetables (or knowing how to cook them), click here to read about juicing!
- Just the thought of coupons stresses me out, so I’ve learned to price-match at Wal-Mart instead! This has saved us so much money. Plus, you turn into a savvy shopper as you start to recognize what is a great deal. Maybe I'm supporting a giant monopoly, but they do have low prices so that works for us. All I do is go through our local grocery stores' ads online and write down the “price-match” as I write out our grocery list. For example, next to onions I may write 33 cents a pound or fresh Tyson chicken for $1.50 a pound or a certain cereal for $1.50 each. Then as you go through the Wal-Mart check-out (yes it is sometimes long) you just name the price and they quickly change it for you. Generally, they are supposed to trust their customer’s word but stay clear from the old ladies. They tend to give you a hard time. Just make sure it’s from the current ads, it’s the correct size, and if a generic brand is on sale at a certain store than you can just get the “Great Value” brand at Wal-Mart for that price. Happy Shopping!
Feel free to share some of your cooking survival tips and I’ll add them to this list!!