fast dinner ideas http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/11686/all en-US 6 Tips for Making Cheaper, Faster, Better Meals http://www.wisebread.com/6-tips-for-making-cheaper-faster-better-meals <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-tips-for-making-cheaper-faster-better-meals" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4304726163_437cb94173_z.jpg" alt="woman holding knife and spatula" title="woman holding knife and spatula" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are days when I spend an hour or more in the kitchen, chopping, slicing, and flipping food for an amazing weeknight meal. It's just that those occasions are rare.</p> <p>I don't always have that kind of time (the last thing I want to do after a long day of work is slave in front of a hot stove), and I doubt you do either. That's why I'm always looking for ways to eat well while also reducing my in-the-kitchen presence and food costs.</p> <p>So you can eliminate some of the stress that comes with &quot;what's for dinner?&quot; try out these tasty time- and money-saving tips. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-time-saving-kitchen-tips-from-an-insider" title="7 Time-Saving Kitchen Tips From an Insider">7 Time-Saving Kitchen Tips From an Insider</a>)</p> <h2>1. Think Simpler</h2> <p>Some of the best meals I've ever made had five ingredients or fewer. There's even a show on Food Network based on the concept, called <a title="5 Ingredient Fix" href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/5-ingredient-fix/index.html"><em>5 Ingredient Fix</em></a>. The host, Claire Robinson, doesn't count salt and pepper because of their omnipresence in every meal, which leaves more wiggle room for other ingredients. One of my favorite fast-cook dishes contains whole-wheat pasta, olive oil, garlic, sautéed grape tomatoes, and fresh basil. Light, healthy, and ready in 15 minutes.</p> <h2>2. Ask Friends for Gourmet Foods</h2> <p>I'm not saying you should go door to door like you're needy, but rather when someone asks what you'd like, say, as housewarming or birthday gift, tell them about a product that you've recently seen on sale at your favorite food shop. Although typically a tad expensive, Williams-Sonoma and Crate and Barrel offer <a title="Williams-Sonoma sale" href="http://www.williams-sonoma.com/shop/sale/">serious discounts</a> &mdash; like up to 75% off many times a year &mdash; which can help you stock up on higher-quality packaged goods at low costs. Marshall's also is an excellent place to find boutique-brand non-perishables at well below retail, especially if your pantry is craving dried pastas, sauces, and jams.</p> <h2>3. Take Cooking Classes</h2> <p>Sadly, I know people (I'm married to one of them) who can't distinguish a pot from a pan; that is to say, if they touched anything besides a microwave, they'd probably burn the house down. Yes, cooking is daunting and practice makes perfect, but in my humble opinion it's essential for an adult human being to be able to feed him or herself without dialing seven digits. If you don't know how to cook &mdash; or are afraid of trying (or whatever other reason you're making up to get out of it) &mdash; consider cooking lessons; there are lots of businesses that offer them nowadays. If you want to save those course fees, ask an experienced friend to show you a few basics to help you gain confidence. No need to be shy. If any of my friends asked me to help them learn how to cook, I'd be delighted, eager, and completely flattered. Yours will, too.</p> <h2>4. Scavenge Clearance Sections</h2> <p>At both my local supermarket and neighborhood Target there are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-store-sales-cycle-your-monthly-guide-to-clearance-prices" title="monthly clearance guide">clearance sections</a> for food. Often the items are near expiration, discontinued, or damaged. For instance, I scooped up several boxes of Kix at below 50% a few months ago because the box tops were ripped. So what? The plastic bag containing the cereal was still perfectly sealed. Same goes for canned goods. Many times they go to clearance if they're dented. Who cares? I'm not eating the can, so in my cart they go.</p> <h2>5. Be Creative With Leftovers</h2> <p>I'll admit that I'm not a fan of leftovers &mdash; depending on what it is. A dish like lasagna is a one-time-only meal for me, but rotisserie chicken and other meats, especially, can be used to make quick midweek meals when you want something simple yet satisfying. I could go on forever describing the various dishes you can turn leftover chicken or pork into, but I'll leave it to the professionals. <a title="Rachael Ray's Week in a Day" href="http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/rachael-rays-week-in-a-day/index.html"><em>Rachael Ray's Week in a Day</em></a> is an excellent resource for turning one main ingredient into multiple meals, as is <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/quick-fix-meals-with-robin-miller/index.html" title="Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller"><em>Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller</em></a>.</p> <h2>6. Watch Cooking Shows</h2> <p>I've mentioned several cooking shows already, and it's for a reason &mdash; I love them, and I live by them. Having never taken a lesson in my life, I fancy myself a fairly formidable cook. Where did I learn how to do what I do? Trial and error, of course (remind me to tell you about the time I put a piece of frozen chicken in a shallow pan of sizzling hot oil &mdash; not pretty!), and by watching cooking shows. Through the years, I've learned how to chiffonade basil, properly hold a knife, season seafood, sear a steak, whip cream, and more. Learning these techniques gave me the confidence I needed to enter the kitchen and make delicious meals. As I said, in the beginning the results were mixed, but eventually you, too, will get the hang of it. And that's when you'll really start to enjoy it.</p> <p><em>Have suggestions on how to make cheaper, faster, better meals? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tips-for-making-cheaper-faster-better-meals">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-cooking-oils-for-your-heart-and-wallet">The Best Cooking Oils: For Your Heart and Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stock-these-20-frugal-foods-for-tough-financial-times">Stock These 20 Frugal Foods for Tough Financial Times</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-and-worst-nuts-by-nutrition-and-price">The Best and Worst Nuts, by Nutrition and Price</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cooking-for-beginners-10-recipes-for-kitchen-newbies">Cooking for Beginners: 10 Recipes for Kitchen Newbies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/end-potato-prejudice-10-reasons-why-you-should-eat-potatoes">End Potato Prejudice: 10 Reasons Why You Should Eat Potatoes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Cooking fast dinner ideas healthy eating learning how to cook quick-fix meals Mon, 08 Aug 2011 10:36:12 +0000 Mikey Rox 651979 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Ways to Make the Most Out of Warm-Weather Weekdays http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-make-the-most-out-of-warm-weather-weekdays <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-ways-to-make-the-most-out-of-warm-weather-weekdays" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/jump_for_summer.jpg" alt="Jumping for summer joy" title="Jumping for summer joy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As someone who works from home all year round, I look forward to the spring and summer months.</p> <p>During the wintertime, I hibernate &mdash; and that doesn&rsquo;t bode well for my sanity.</p> <p>But as soon as the sun starts shining and the temp starts rising, I&rsquo;m out and about as much as possible. Even (and especially) after a hard day&rsquo;s work.</p> <p>To get you out of the house more, here are some of the things I like (and would like) to do on weekdays that allow me to soak up the rays and feel better the next day.</p> <h3>1. Join a Team Sport</h3> <p>Every city I&rsquo;ve lived in has had adult rec leagues that offer team activities like kickball, dodgeball, soccer, mini golf, ultimate Frisbee, and more. I&rsquo;m currently playing two sports on the <a href="http://www.nycssc.com">NYSSC</a> leagues. It&rsquo;s a great way to keep moving and make new friends.<o:p> My kickball team is currently in first place. Albeit, no thanks to me. Pssh, I'm not hurting myself for fleeting glory.</o:p></p> <h3>2. Cooks Meals in Advance</h3> <p>When it&rsquo;s warm outside, I don&rsquo;t want to spend my nights in front of a hot stove. To free up my time, I grill lots of chicken breasts on a Sunday morning, cut them up, and store the bite-sized pieces in a container in the fridge or freezer. When I&rsquo;m ready to eat, I can pull out the container and make quick Caesar salads, quesadillas, or chicken-salad sandwiches. As I&rsquo;m saving time, I&rsquo;m also saving money. Heating up your home every night &mdash; especially when it&rsquo;s hot out &mdash; makes your air conditioner work harder to keep it cool, which costs more money. Cooking one day a week saves you five days of unnecessary AC overdrive.</p> <h3>3. Grill Your Dinner</h3> <p>If you don&rsquo;t want to spend your Sundays making a week&rsquo;s worth of meals, that&rsquo;s all right. I don&rsquo;t always have time for that, either &mdash; and there&rsquo;s nothing like food, fresh and hot. Whenever I have a chance to grill, I light it up. Burgers, shrimp, steak, baked potatoes, corn-on-the-cob&hellip; what doesn&rsquo;t taste good from the grill? Quick, easy, and delicious &mdash; if you have the gas kind, that is. Charcoal grills are a waste of time and money. You can tell Weber I said that, too.</p> <h3>4. Exercise Outside</h3> <p>When May rolls around, I put my gym membership on hold. There&rsquo;s no need to spend time sweating inside when I can save my monthly membership fee and sweat outside instead. Or, if you&rsquo;re a true entrepreneur, you can forgo putting the membership on hold and lease it to someone who wants short-term access to your gym. I&rsquo;ve done it before and it worked out beautifully.</p> <h3>5. Open the Blinds and Windows</h3> <p>Maybe you don&rsquo;t have time to get outside. Fair enough. Bring the sights and sounds inside by opening the blinds and windows. Turn on some Calypso and shake your thang. (<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tasks-you-shouldnt-skip-during-spring-cleaning">See also: 8 Tasks You Shouldn't Skip During Spring Cleaning</a>)</p> <h3>6. Take Your Dogs to the Park</h3> <p>My dogs love going to the run. I don&rsquo;t mind going either, because the one that we frequent has a bar. In my opinion, there&rsquo;s no better way to chill out than having fun with my babies while sipping on a few beers.</p> <h3>7. Treat Yourself to Refreshments on a Patio</h3> <p>Sometimes, of course, I need a moment to unwind by myself. When I&rsquo;m not taking my babies out, I like to visit <a href="http://yatengabistro.com/">a bistro around the corner</a> that has outdoor seating and incredible happy hour specials like $4 glasses of house wine before 8 p.m.</p> <h3>8. Plan a Picnic</h3> <p>Turn off the TV, pack a basket, and find a shady spot at the park. The park is much less crowded during the week, so you&rsquo;ll finally be able to relax. My go-to picnic dishes include chilled steamed shrimp, a fruit and cheese platter, and crusty bread with olive oil. A cool piece of lemon meringue pie helps satisfy that sweet tooth, too.</p> <h3>9. Catch a Free Event</h3> <p>Great activities are not limited to the weekends. Look at your local events calendar, and you&rsquo;ll find plenty to do Monday through Friday. My all-time favorite is an outdoor movie series, which usually kicks off sometime in June, with each movie beginning at dusk once a week until mid-to-late August. Bring along a fold-up chair and a bag of snacks and you&rsquo;ve got yourself a good, cheap night out that won&rsquo;t leave you with a headache the next day.</p> <h3>10. Make Some Extra Cash</h3> <p>Search <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/extra-income-online-5-websites-that-can-seriously-pad-your-pockets">Craigslist</a> for people in need of dog walkers, errand runners, or yard help. You&rsquo;ll get your daily recommended allowance of vitamin D while making a few bucks in the process.</p> <h3>11. Run Errands Close to Home</h3> <p>There&rsquo;s a misconception about New York City that everything is convenient. It&rsquo;s not. The nearest post office is seven blocks away from me, and my bank is another five blocks away from that. That may not seem like an arduous trek, but just wait until the wind, rain, snow, and slush arrive. When it&rsquo;s nice out, though, I like to walk to run my errands. I list what I need to do ahead of time then map it so I&rsquo;m accomplishing my tasks efficiently. I feel even better when I break a sweat &mdash; because that&rsquo;s means less time exercising. Which I hate (but have) to do.</p> <h3>12. Volunteer to Clean Up Your Neighborhood</h3> <p>Every neighborhood needs maintenance. Maybe not your own little slice of heaven, but I bet there&rsquo;s something you could volunteer to beautify. Break out a broom and sweep the sidewalk. Pull the weeds out of a neighbor's potted plants. Help pick up trash near the church. All of these activities will keep your blood pumping and win you points with the old lady next door.</p> <h3>13. Wash Your Car</h3> <p>Why pay $20 to have your car washed? Unless, of course, there&rsquo;s a whole bunch of home-from-college hotties doin&rsquo; the washin&rsquo;. Yes, please. Barring that exception, grab your bucket, soap, and sponge and attack your Crud Mobile the old-fashioned way &mdash; with your bare hands and some elbow grease. But check the weather first. Nothing burns more than busting your hump scrubbing those hubcabs just have &lsquo;em rained on three hours later.</p> <h3>14. Take Up Stargazing</h3> <p>I see no stars in the city &mdash; and that makes this idea all the more appealing. If you live somewhere where the halogen lights don&rsquo;t keep you up at night, buy (or borrow) a telescope and search for signs of intelligent life. Lord knows I haven&rsquo;t spotted any in a while.</p> <h3>15. Invest in a Hammock</h3> <p>Tie it to two trees and hop in. In your backyard. In the park. On your roof (if it comes with its own stand). Just remember that safety comes first, OK? I will not be held responsible for your silliness.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-make-the-most-out-of-warm-weather-weekdays">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/massive-list-of-things-to-do-while-watching-tv">Massive List of Things to Do While Watching TV</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-old-school-things-that-make-summer-summer">10 Old-School Things That Make Summer SUMMER!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fun-and-cheap-ways-to-get-creative-when-you-re-bored">Fun and Cheap Ways to Get Creative When You’re Bored</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-fun-and-cheap-things-to-do-during-the-weekday">8 Fun and Cheap Things to Do During the Weekday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-resistance-bands">The 5 Best Resistance Bands</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Lifestyle Productivity errands exercise fast dinner ideas summer activities Fri, 20 May 2011 10:24:16 +0000 Mikey Rox 545614 at http://www.wisebread.com