family meals http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/16496/all en-US 8 Money-Saving Hacks for Those Who Hate Cooking http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-saving-hacks-for-those-who-hate-cooking <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-money-saving-hacks-for-those-who-hate-cooking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_making_pizza_63266135_0.jpg" alt="Couple who hate cooking learning money-saving hacks" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Cooking at home is one of the top ways to keep your budget in check. While cooking and eating at home is a wonderful idea, it is also a daunting one for those who hate to cook (and those who hate to clean up afterward). Worry no more. These hacks will save you money on eating out, while also saving you time and cleanup anxiety.</p> <h2>1. Befriend the Crock-Pot</h2> <p>Crock-Pots are popular with older generations of moms of multiple kids, but what about everyone else? Whether you are single, a family of two, or a family of many, a <a href="http://amzn.to/2bKkRSW">Crock-Pot</a> can be the perfect timesaving tool. Use <a href="http://amzn.to/2bKl4pr">Crock-Pot liners</a>, and you won't even have to scrub your cooking dish afterward.</p> <p>Crock-Pot cooking doesn't have to be complicated or bland. Pinterest is full of recipes (and so is <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-great-cheap-and-easy-crock-pot-recipes?ref=internal">Wise Bread</a>). Look for Crock-Pot dump ideas that you can assemble and freeze ahead of time. I regularly do this after I find meat on sale, and I am able to assemble 10 Crock-Pot dump meals in only 30 minutes.</p> <p>One easy and tasty option to get you started is to combine boneless, skinless chicken thighs with one package of cream cheese and one jar (16 oz.) of your favorite salsa. Cook on low for three to four hours. Shred the chicken and stir, and you have creamy chicken ready to eat for tacos, pasta, or just on its own.</p> <h2>2. Cook Once, Eat Twice (or Thrice)</h2> <p>Making a lasagna is time consuming. It can take almost 30 minutes to make a pan. However, if you make two or three pans of lasagna, surprisingly the time effort is not multiplied. The extra lasagna can be frozen and used at a later date, for up to three to six months.</p> <p>You can use this method for enchiladas, many casserole recipes, and more. This method doesn't have to be used just for main dishes. It can also be used for side dishes, such as rice and beans.</p> <h2>3. Embrace Convenient Groceries</h2> <p>There is no shame in buying frozen vegetables, canned beans, and pre-marinated meat. In fact, they make your job a lot easier. Buying items such as pre-chopped onions, microwaveable steamed vegetables, frozen brown rice, pre-made dough, and ready-to-cook meat costs more at the grocery store. However, paying a little more for the convenience will save you a lot more at the drive-thru window.</p> <p>Make sure you are buying convenient groceries that are still healthy instead of processed, cheap food. For example, frozen brown rice where rice is the only ingredient is a better choice than purchasing Rice-a-Roni.</p> <h2>4. Simple Meals Are Best</h2> <p>Ditch the fancy recipes and cookbooks. Your meals don't need to take a lot of time or have a lot of ingredients. Think of your meal in terms of protein + carb + vegetable. With this simple recipe, you can have a healthy and filling dinner in five to 10 minutes.</p> <p>See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-quick-dinners-for-lazy-cooks?ref=seealso">8 Quick Dinners for Lazy Cooks</a></p> <h2>5. Grill All Your Meat for the Week</h2> <p>My husband loves to grill, so I will take advantage of this by having him grill a week's worth of meat in one go. For him, this takes about 30&ndash;45 minutes. For me, it takes only a few minutes to season or pour a marinade over each meat. The meat can then be used in salads, soups, tacos, pizza, sandwiches, and more for the rest of the week.</p> <h2>6. Get Over the Leftover Mentality</h2> <p>I've heard so many people complain about eating leftovers, even to the point of avoiding them altogether. Eating leftovers doesn't mean you have to eat mushy casserole repeats each night. Instead, repurpose a meal into something new and simple. For example, if you eat chicken breasts one night for dinner, try taking the extra chicken and turn it into fajitas or barbecue chicken sandwiches. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-meals-that-make-terrific-leftovers?ref=seealso">11 Meals That Make Terrific Leftovers</a>)</p> <p>Many times getting over the ick factor of eating leftovers is just a mental game you need to conquer. The food still tastes good the next day. Even better, eating leftovers will save you money and time.</p> <h2>7. Don't Forget Other Helpful Kitchen Tools</h2> <p>The Crock-Pot gets a lot of praise in the kitchen, but don't forget to utilize a rice cooker, pressure cooker, and bread maker. A <a href="http://amzn.to/2bKoDvE">rice cooker</a> that can cook rice and steam vegetables at the same time does all the work for you while you prepare the meat. <a href="http://amzn.to/2beBoxo">Pressure cookers</a> are a pricier investment, but they can make tender meat and meals in very little time. Finally, a <a href="http://amzn.to/2bfpe7k">bread maker</a>, which is easy to find inexpensively second-hand, can be used to mix dough quickly for homemade pizza and rolls/biscuits (and of course bread).</p> <h2>8. Make Meal Prep Time Enjoyable</h2> <p>Whether you are cooking one meal or tackling freezer meals for the month, start off with an empty dishwasher. This will allow you to quickly clean as you go.</p> <p>Make sure to have all of the items you need out and ready to use. Combine tasks to save time. For example, open all of the cans at once or chop all of your vegetables together.</p> <p>Finally, listen to something fun. I love to listen to audiobooks while meal prepping, but you can also watch your favorite show on a laptop, listen to upbeat music, or watch YouTube videos.</p> <p>In the end, cooking and eating at home will save you money over purchasing fast food frequently. Even if you hate cooking, you can still enjoy the cost-saving benefits of eating at home without spending too much time in front of the oven or washing dishes.</p> <p><em>What are your favorite quick recipes to make when you don't feel like cooking?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-saving-hacks-for-those-who-hate-cooking">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/sous-vide-is-the-fancy-cooking-technique-that-saves-you-money-too">Sous Vide Is the Fancy Cooking Technique That Saves You Money, Too</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/5-easy-ways-to-save-on-groceries-in-a-pinch">5 Easy Ways to Save on Groceries in a Pinch</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/8-alternative-ways-to-cook-outside">8 Alternative Ways to Cook Outside</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/the-10-best-pieces-of-cooking-advice-from-julia-child">The 10 Best Pieces of Cooking Advice From Julia Child</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/7-diy-kitchen-skills-that-will-save-you-money">7 DIY Kitchen Skills That Will Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Food and Drink batch cooking Cooking crock-pot dinners family meals food prep Grilling meal planning meal prep planning ahead Mon, 29 Aug 2016 10:30:07 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1778734 at http://www.wisebread.com Wise Bread Reloaded: Dinner Time Is Hard, Says Science — Wise Bread Makes It Easy http://www.wisebread.com/wise-bread-reloaded-dinner-time-is-hard-says-science-wise-bread-makes-it-easy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wise-bread-reloaded-dinner-time-is-hard-says-science-wise-bread-makes-it-easy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family-cooking-78627610-small.jpg" alt="family cooking" title="family cooking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A trio of sociologists from North Carolina State University studied the eating habits of 200 low and middle income families and discovered what Wise Bread's short-on-time-and-energy readers already know: <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/9/26/6849169/the-problem-with-home-cooked-meals">dinner time is hard</a>.</p> <p>While most moms in the study expressed a desire to prepare wholesome, good tasting meals from high quality ingredients for their families, the reality was that they often could not, for a variety of reasons.</p> <p>Moms in both income groups reported time as a big obstacle &mdash; delicious wholesome meals require a lot of it of prepare.</p> <p>Both groups also reported that creating meals that satisfied everyone in the family was also a challenge. Finding meals that made everyone happy limited the range of options.</p> <p>Money was a factor, too, but obviously more critical for poorer families. Higher quality ingredients are out of reach, of course. In addition, poorer families often cannot afford basic kitchen utensils or appliances required to make some recipes. And for those without reliable transportation, trips to the store must be carefully planned and are also infrequent, which takes fresh foods off the grocery list. For middle class families, money sometimes prevented moms from using the highest quality ingredients such as organics.</p> <p>Of course, none of this is surprising. Meal times are challenging for most families, from whatever income group. Wise Bread writers have been discussing ways to make dinner time easier for years. Here's a selection of some of their best labor- and money-saving tips.</p> <h2>Use a Crockpot or Slow Cooker</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/rains%20crock%20pot.jpg" /></p> <p>Busy moms everywhere rely on the crockpot or slow cooker to get hot meals on the time in no time (by taking a long time to do it, which is weird if you think about it). Julie Rains offers <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-great-cheap-and-easy-crock-pot-recipes?ref=classicwb">25 Great Cheap and Easy Crockpot Recipes</a>.</p> <h2>No Crockpot? No Problem &mdash; Just Use One Pot</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/walters%20pot.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Making it all in a single pot cuts down on clean up time too. Marla Walters shares <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-delicious-and-easy-one-pot-meals">25 Delicious and Easy One Pot Meals</a>, which includes breakfast, too!</p> <h2>Limit the Number of Ingredients</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/marcin%20vegetables.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Save time on shopping and prep and save money with a short grocery list by limiting the number of ingredients in your creations. Ashley Marcin's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-easy-5-ingredient-recipes-that-save-time-and-money?ref=classicwb">25 Easy 5-Ingredient Recipes That Save Time and Money</a> was a big hit with readers, and in this Wise Bread editor's kitchen.</p> <h2>Embrace Your Inner Lazybones</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/michael%20cooking.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Lazy people just can't be bothered and maybe that's not so great, but the rest of us can profit from the shortcuts they come up with &mdash; especially if they are delicious, like these. Paul Michael collects and shares <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-healthy-recipes-for-lazy-people">25 Healthy Recipes for Lazy People</a>.</p> <h2>Embrace Your Inner Workaholic</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/marcin%20cooking.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>At the other end of the spectrum are the bulk or assembly cookers who set aside a weekend to get through a week &mdash; or even a month's &mdash; worth of shopping and cooking in a whirlwind of activity. Ashley Marcin walks you through how to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-time-and-money-with-a-monthly-assembly-or-bulk-cooking-weekend">Save Time and Money With a Monthly Assembly (or Bulk) Cooking Weekend</a>.</p> <h2>Embrace Your Inner Goldilocks</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/kyle%20may%20ice.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Not up for prepping 30 days worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Aim your sights a little lower and freeze ahead five days worth of dinner, instead. Linsey Knerl shows you how in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-five-day-freeze-batch-cooking-for-the-rest-of-us?ref=classicwb">The Five-Day Freeze: Batch Cooking for the Rest of Us</a>.</p> <h2>Make a Difficult Entree Easy</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/walters%20sushi.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Finally, broaden your family's collective palate with something surprising, and fancy, and often too difficult to make by making it the easy way. Marla Walters brings us <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-delicious-but-difficult-recipes-made-easy?ref=classicwb">10 Difficult But Delicious Recipes Made Easy</a>.</p> <p><em>How do you make dinner time manageable? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lars-peterson">Lars Peterson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wise-bread-reloaded-dinner-time-is-hard-says-science-wise-bread-makes-it-easy">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/flashback-friday-47-brilliant-ways-to-save-money-on-dinner">Flashback Friday: 47 Brilliant Ways to Save Money on Dinner</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/20-ways-to-get-dinner-on-the-table-faster">20 Ways to Get Dinner on the Table Faster</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-5-best-pasta-makers">The 5 Best Pasta Makers</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/10-easy-exotic-meals-you-should-be-making">10 Easy Exotic Meals You Should Be Making</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/hunt-fish-money-food">Is hunting/fishing a good way to feed your family?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink dinner easy meals family meals food budget meals Sat, 04 Oct 2014 11:00:08 +0000 Lars Peterson 1227990 at http://www.wisebread.com 20 Ways to Get Dinner on the Table Faster http://www.wisebread.com/20-ways-to-get-dinner-on-the-table-faster <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-ways-to-get-dinner-on-the-table-faster" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5485588029_2893639e51_z.jpg" alt="crowded kitchen" title="crowded kitchen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of my proudest moments as a mom took place in the drive-through lane of a fast-food restaurant. A series of unusual events while traveling led my family to such a place. What made me feel accomplished was not where we stood (or sat, in this situation) but the confusion and dismay of my oldest son. He questioned the sanity of receiving food in a bag from a window and then consuming the food while driving or riding in a car. I was thrilled that he thought this set-up was unusual.</p> <p>Like many parents, I have made eating dinner together a priority. But family dinnertime amidst full schedules often requires that dinner get on the table in a certain time frame. If you are a mom or dad who cooks regularly, then you are likely familiar with the challenge of preparing healthy, hearty, and homecooked dinners that kids and adults enjoy (or at least consume). Toss in the requirement that meals should be easy to get on the table quickly and this feat, repeated nightly, may seem herculean.&nbsp;</p> <p>While I won't boast that I have achieved perfection in fixing great meals quickly, I can say that I have learned some strategies and tactics that help get dinner on the table, faster. Here are tricks and techniques that have worked for me. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-time-saving-kitchen-tips-from-an-insider">7 Time-Saving&nbsp;Kitchen&nbsp;Tips From an Insider</a>)</p> <h3>1. Plan Ahead</h3> <p>To move as quickly as possible during the week, I plan meals on the weekends. But I don't just figure out what meals to serve. I scrutinize the family's schedule and then match dinner menus to specific evenings based on food preparation and cooking times.</p> <p>Tonight, for example, my youngest son doesn't get finished with band practice until 8:30 p.m., my husband will arrive home at 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., and I have a meeting at 7 p.m. We should all be around to sit at the dinner table, even though dining schedules may not sync. A great option here is a meal that is relatively fast to make and heats up well. On other days, if I know I will have extra time in the morning but not much in the evening, then I may do some prep work before the start of the day or opt for a one-dish slow-cooker meal.&nbsp;</p> <p>By figuring out meals ahead of time, I can make a grocery list, restock on basics, and get items that are needed for recipes.</p> <h3>2. Substitute Ingredients</h3> <p>Substituting ingredients quickens the dinner-making pace. Use what you have on hand rather than buying, storing, measuring, and mixing every single ingredient called for in a recipe. This saves money but also prevents me from stopping dinner preparation to go to the store to find the item, ask my husband to pick up an item, or find another recipe.</p> <p>For example, I may use cream cheese for cream soup or sour cream; sea salt and pepper for herbs; crushed tomatoes for spaghetti sauce or fresh tomatoes; water, wine, or bouillon for chicken broth; walnuts for pecans or almonds; breadcrumbs for nearly any casserole topping or breading; cereal for oatmeal.</p> <p>Occasionally, I leave out ingredients if they are not commonly available. If you can safely omit certain items (that is, the dish still tastes good and the texture is intact), you can get dinner on the table faster without much compromise.</p> <h3>3. Develop a Repertoire of Quick Dinner Fixes</h3> <p>When I took a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-frugal-resource-the-community-college">cooking class at the community college</a>, I learned from my instructor (a professional home economist) that most people have a repertoire of about 5-10 dinner menus. They cycle through these so that favorites or standbys are served every couple of weeks. Periodically, cooks will try a new dish and add that to their rotation. Since learning about this common habit, I stopped feeling bad about serving the same thing over and over. However, I try to introduce new items in order to avoid family burnout on favorite foods.</p> <p>Within my repertoire, I like to have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-healthy-and-cheap-5-minute-dinners">dishes that are quick to fix</a>. What surprises me about the easy-to-prepare meals is that my family often likes those just as much or more than dishes that are time-consuming and expensive.</p> <p>So, to get dinner ready faster on a consistent basis, develop a list of meals that are quick and easy to make. Take, for example, this simple chicken dish &mdash; place boneless chicken breasts in a greased baking dish (I use cooking spray); pour a jar of salsa over the chicken; top with extra sharp cheddar or your favorite cheese; cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees; remove the foil and continue baking until the cheese is melted and the chicken is done.</p> <h3>4. Get More People Involved</h3> <p>Delegate duties to get dinner on the table faster. Hand off time-consuming tasks like chopping vegetables or shredding cooked chicken. Or hand a recipe to someone else and let that person prepare the entire dish.</p> <h3>5. Grill Out</h3> <p>A great way to get more people involved without too many cooks in the kitchen is to grill outside. One person grills the entrée while the other fixes side dishes.</p> <p>For a simple recipe, marinate boneless chicken breasts in Italian dressing and cook on the grill about 10 to 15 minutes until done. To add veggies, make kabobs. Cut chicken and vegetables (such as green peppers and onions) into large chunks, place on skewers, brush with marinade, and place over the grill.</p> <h3>6. Fix a Cool Entrée</h3> <p>Raiding the refrigerator for dinner doesn't have to be a last-ditch effort of desperation. You can plan and fix a gourmet entrée (like a roast turkey or elegant chicken salad) that is perfect for light summer meals, a group get-together, evenings when family members eat in shifts, or nights that you are busy. Add some quick side dishes, and you can have a hearty meal in minutes.&nbsp;</p> <h3>7. Serve Cool Veggies</h3> <p>Make side dishes ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator, just like the cool entrées.</p> <p>A couple of my favorites in this category include <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/new-red-potato-salad/">red potato salad</a> and <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/cindys-coleslaw">coleslaw</a>. The key to making great potato salad is cooking the potatoes enough but not too much. To increase the nutritional value, add more vegetables like chopped celery or bell pepper.</p> <p>For coleslaw, use a packaged mix or toss chunks of raw cabbage (and other vegetables that you'd like to add such as purple onions, carrots, or green peppers) in the food processor to shred or chop.</p> <h3>8. Serve Fruit as a Side Dish</h3> <p>You may have the main dish covered. But getting side dishes on the table for a well-balanced meal can be tricky. So, add fruit to your evening rotation of easy and fast side dishes.</p> <p>Chill and serve canned fruit or jarred fruit packed in natural juices or light syrup, such as mandarin oranges or a tropical mix of mangoes and pineapples. Try fresh cored pineapple, chopped and stored in the refrigerator until it's time to eat. An even simpler-to-make side dish is a bowl of grapes, rinsed and ready to eat.</p> <h3>9. Prepare a Pasta Dish</h3> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oodles-of-noodles-25-ways-to-prepare-pasta?wbref=readmore-4">Prepare noodles</a> in about 20-30 minutes while you are preparing a sauce or topping. You can sauté&nbsp;zucchini and mushrooms in olive oil and serve over pasta with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes. Or make a traditional meat sauce with ground beef and jarred pasta sauce that you've snagged in a BOGO or Buy Two, Get Three Free promotion.&nbsp;</p> <p>To speed things up, clean and chop the vegetables the evening before your pasta dinner. If dinner involves a traditional sauce, make multiple batches or at least a double batch so that you can serve half for dinner fresh now and freeze the other half for a subsequent, ultra-easy meal later.</p> <p>If you happen to be preparing dinner about the time that you need to pick up your kids from an extracurricular activity, leave the pasta to cook on its own: bring the pasta to boiling, stir to break up the noodles, place a lid over the pot, and <em>turn the burner off</em>; the pasta should cook in about 30 minutes.</p> <h3>10. Make Tortilla Meals</h3> <p>A quick, healthy, and cheap meal is anything made with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ten-tortilla-tips-for-mealtime-madness">tortillas</a>. Get the ingredients together and let your family assemble them according to each person's preferences. Heat tortillas and toss in two or more of these ingredients: black beans (rinsed and heated); chopped tomatoes; shredded cheese; cooked chicken or beef; guacamole; or sauteed vegetables such as green peppers, red peppers, and onions.</p> <p>Prepare as much as you can the night before, or buy ready-made shredded cheese during store sales. Serve some items on the side (black beans, for example) if you'd like.</p> <h3>11. Have Breakfast for Dinner</h3> <p>An omelet or a frittata mixed with vegetables and cheese, served with a fruit side dish and bread, is a great meal. You and your family may want to avoid dishes that may be better suited for leisurely breakfasts and brunches. But in a pinch, eggs or even pancakes with fruit are fast meals that can help you out in a jam.</p> <h3>12. Toss a Dinner Salad</h3> <p>Salad can be an entire meal or a side dish. Make a dinner of&nbsp;Cobb salad or chef's salad for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/turn-off-the-oven-25-no-cook-meals">no-cook meal</a>.</p> <p>Put together ingredients that blend well and help finish off leftovers. For example, toss lettuce with leftover fruit from side dishes, feta cheese, toasted almonds or walnuts, boiled eggs, and chickpeas. If the salad is a side dish, then serve with homemade soup and bread.</p> <h3>13. Simmer Main Dishes or Entire Meals in a Crock Pot</h3> <p>Prepare crock pot meals that will be ready when you finish a busy day at work or home. Try&nbsp;<a href="http://www.food.com/recipe/crock-pot-chicken-w-black-beans-and-cream-cheese-yum-89204">chicken with black beans and cream cheese</a> or check out <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-great-cheap-and-easy-crock-pot-recipes">great, cheap, and easy crock pot recipes</a> like pot roast with vegetables or coq au vin.</p> <h3>14. Roast Your Dinner</h3> <p>Roasting meats and vegetables (or veggies only) is a fast and easy way to make a delicious, healthy dinner.</p> <p>One of my favorite dishes is roast chicken (using boneless chicken breasts) with red potatoes and asparagus. Cut all ingredients into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle with rosemary or garlic (or just salt and pepper), toss with olive oil and lemon, and cook in a 400-degree oven. Stir occasionally until done, which should take about 30-45 minutes. For variations, substitute your favorite vegetables like zucchini, red peppers, or mushrooms for asparagus.</p> <h3>15. Use Potato Baking Nails</h3> <p>My parents always used baking nails to speed up the potato-baking process when I was a kid. I still use them to get the oven flavor and texture, which seems to differ from the microwave taste. To use, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Potato-Baking-Nails-Set-4/dp/B000PH0SSM">insert nails in the center of the potato</a> and cook; this technique shaves at least 30 minutes off the usual cook times.</p> <h3>16. Slice Thin</h3> <p>To speed up the cooking of a dish, I slice ingredients to make them thinner. For example, I often slice a chicken breast in half, even if the recipe doesn't call for this action. I do the same with slower-cooking vegetables like potatoes and carrots. This technique can be helpful for nearly any recipe.</p> <h3>17. Repurpose Leftovers</h3> <p>Eating leftovers sounds boring, but having them available can be a godsend. Develop a menu of dishes that reheat well, not just for lunch but also for dinner. A pot roast or turkey, for example, could serve as a main dish a couple of times each week and is great for those weeks with many afterschool or evening activities. Broccoli-rice casserole and mashed potatoes also reheat well.</p> <p>Leftovers can also be used in completely new dishes; for example, I may make a chicken casserole from leftover roasted chicken, rather than just serving the same meal twice. For ideas on repurposing main dishes or sides, see these articles on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-fancy-ways-to-use-leftover-food">fancy ways to use leftovers</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-do-with-rotisserie-chicken">rotisserie chicken</a>.</p> <h3>18. Use a Pressure Cooker or Other Fast-Cooking Device</h3> <p>A <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-time-money-energy-and-eat-great">pressure cooker can help cook meals faster</a>. A convection oven (as well as microwave and toaster ovens) can also reduce cooking times. There may be a learning curve with these appliances, so some of your recipes may take a tad longer at first but will eventually save time.&nbsp;</p> <h3>19. Batch Cook</h3> <p>Many people find fast-dinner-prep nirvana in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/assembly-cooking-for-newbies">batch cooking-freezing-thawing-reheating or similar assembly methods</a>. My attempts in this area have fallen short, though I do freeze and use spaghetti sauce regularly. A friend makes batches of <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/hot-chicken-salad/">hot chicken salad</a>&nbsp;(I omit the peppers, use unsalted almonds, and substitute cheddar for Swiss cheese and breadcrumbs for potato chips), and I have found this casserole to be wonderful when reheated.&nbsp;</p> <h3>20. Keep Basics on Hand</h3> <p>If you always have a few basics on hand, then you can easily put together a meal. But defining basics or staples can be tricky as they vary from person to person, family to family. For me, the basics include:</p> <ul> <li>Frozen fruits and vegetables (blueberries, broccoli, green beans, mixed vegetables)</li> <li>Frozen meats (chicken, ground beef)</li> <li>Nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans)</li> <li>Dairy (cheddar, feta, mozzarella; milk; sour cream; eggs; yogurt)</li> <li>Canned or jarred goods (salsa, pasta sauce, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-delicious-healthy-and-cheap-bean-recipes">beans</a>, fruit)&nbsp;</li> <li>Fresh fruits and vegetables (apples, bananas, lettuce, carrots, celery)</li> <li>Baking and cooking items (<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-cooking-oils-for-your-heart-and-wallet">oil</a>, butter, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, spices like chili powder and cinnamon, white wine)</li> <li>Grains (whole wheat bread, tortillas, pasta, brown rice)</li> </ul> <p>Nearly all of these items can be stored for several weeks with the exceptions of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and bread. There are many items that I freeze to keep longer; for example, I keep cloves of garlic in the freezer as well as peeled bananas and homemade breadcrumbs.</p> <p>The suggestions that I make for preparing meals typically involve these items and maybe one or two extra ingredients.&nbsp;</p> <p>Cooking should be a leisurely activity, except that it isn't when you have a full schedule. Use these techniques and dinner at your house will be <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-quick-meals-that-are-faster-than-pizza-delivery?wbref=readmore-5">faster than fast food or pizza delivery</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>How do you get dinner ready faster?&nbsp;</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-ways-to-get-dinner-on-the-table-faster">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/8-money-saving-hacks-for-those-who-hate-cooking">8 Money-Saving Hacks for Those Who Hate Cooking</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/16-classic-foods-we-miss">16 Classic Foods We Miss</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/8-quick-dinners-for-lazy-cooks">8 Quick Dinners for Lazy Cooks</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/wise-bread-reloaded-dinner-time-is-hard-says-science-wise-bread-makes-it-easy">Wise Bread Reloaded: Dinner Time Is Hard, Says Science — Wise Bread Makes It Easy</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/10-foods-you-need-in-your-emergency-pantry">10 Foods You Need in Your &quot;Emergency&quot; Pantry</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family Food and Drink cooking techniques dinners family meals meals Thu, 20 Sep 2012 10:36:55 +0000 Julie Rains 954494 at http://www.wisebread.com