bulk cooking http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8474/all en-US 10 Homemade Baking Mixes That Save Money and Time http://www.wisebread.com/10-homemade-baking-mixes-that-save-money-and-time <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-homemade-baking-mixes-that-save-money-and-time" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother-daughter-home-baking-Dollarphotoclub_76084109.jpg" alt="mother daughter baking" title="mother daughter baking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I used to bake from scratch quite frequently. You really can't beat a batch of homemade brownies or a loaf of crusty bread, am I right? However, as my life has morphed and changed, my time in the kitchen has dwindled. I eventually found myself relying more heavily on boxed mixes to get by. After a while, I decided to start making my own to save money and banish the questionable ingredients.</p> <p>Here are some mixes I've made for my kitchen that you should consider stocking in yours.</p> <h2>1. All Purpose Mix</h2> <p>My mom always had a box of Bisquick on hand for making biscuits, waffles, and all sorts of baked goods. Try this <a href="http://www.kitchennostalgia.com/canning_and_preserving/homemade_bisquick_mix_recipe.html">all purpose baking mix</a> to fill that gap the homemade way. The magic is in the shortening, which you'll pulse into the flour and other ingredients until the mix resembles fine crumbs.</p> <h2>2. Gluten-Free Mix</h2> <p>If you're sensitive to gluten, try this <a href="http://alittleinsanity.com/all-purpose-gluten-free-flour-mix-recipe/">gluten-free flour mix</a> that works for breads, muffins, cookies, etc. Comparable store bought mixes are around $8 per four cups. This one costs just $12 for a whopping 18 cups of flour. Now that's some major savings!</p> <h2>3. Pancake Mix</h2> <p>I keep a container of <a href="http://www.neverhomemaker.com/2010/04/planning-ahead-homemade-pancake-mix.html">DIY pancake mix</a> on hand for busy weekends when I want something substantial to put on the table at breakfast. And creating it couldn't be easier! Tip: I like using wheat pastry flour to make my pancakes fluffy and light.</p> <h2>4. Brownie Mix</h2> <p>Here's <a href="http://www.pbs.org/parents/kitchenexplorers/2011/09/15/diy-brownie-mix/">homemade brownie mix</a> without all the extra ingredients. Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and even mini chocolate chips. When you're ready to bake, you'll add &frac12; cup hot water, ⅓ cup oil, two eggs, and two teaspoons vanilla extract.</p> <h2>5. Cake Mix</h2> <p>This basic <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/homemade-yellow-cake-mix.html">yellow cake mix</a> would work wonderfully for birthday cakes or weekday cupcakes. They key ingredient is nonfat dry milk, which gives the whole cake a fuller flavor. Add in the oil, eggs, and vanilla extract when you need a treat on the hurry.</p> <h2>6. Bread Maker Mix</h2> <p>As if baking loaves inside a machine couldn't be easier, now you can make your own <a href="http://www.budget101.com/content.php/419-bread-machine-mix">bread mix</a>. Be sure to use bread flour because it contains more gluten, giving the final result the right texture you're after.</p> <h2>7. Cornbread Mix</h2> <p>For quick <a href="http://realhousemoms.com/homemade-cornbread-mix/">quick cornbread</a>, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and mix well. When it's time to bake, add butter, egg, milk, and honey and maple syrup for a touch of sweetness.</p> <h2>8. Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix</h2> <p>Skip those store-bought tubes of dough and whip up your own <a href="http://www.fivehearthome.com/2013/09/02/homemade-chocolate-chip-cookie-mix-for-fresh-chewy-cookies-in-a-flash/">chocolate chip cookie mix</a> from scratch. I make cookies all the time, so I can see this one being a huge time-saver for me. The cookie recipe says to use four cups of mix, but I'd split the recipe in half for a smaller batch.</p> <h2>9. Muffin Mix</h2> <p>You can take this <a href="http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/homemade-muffin-mix">muffin mix</a> to the sweet or savory, depending on your needs. What's inside is just flour, sugar, shortening, baking powder, and salt. This recipe will get you a heaping four batches, and I can't wait to try the cheesy cheddar variation.</p> <h2>10. Tortilla Mix</h2> <p>My husband and I eat more tortillas than I'm comfortable sharing. So, we decided this year that we'd like to make our own. This <a href="http://heart-hands-home.blogspot.com/2011/08/tortilla-mix.html">DIY tortilla mix</a> produces delicious wraps at a fraction of the price you'd pay for them at the store. Just combine mix with warm water and knead before cooking atop your stove.</p> <h2>Baking Mix Tips</h2> <ul> <li>Store all baking mixes in airtight containers. Gallon zip bags work well and allow you to write contents directly on whatever you're storing (use permanent markers so nothing wipes off). Otherwise use clean plastic or glass containers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Always label whatever mix you've made along with any notes on quantity, allergy information, and &mdash; of course &mdash; the date. If you aren't using zip bags, write this info on an index card and staple or tape to your mix if you need more space.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Furthermore, include clear notes for whatever wet ingredients you must add to the mix to make the finished product. Write out specific bake times and any other special instructions (especially if a mix works for several purposes) whenever necessary.</li> </ul> <p><em>Do you use pre-mixed homemade baking mixes?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F10-homemade-baking-mixes-that-save-money-and-time&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F10%2520Homemade%2520Baking%2520Mixes%2520That%2520Save%2520Money%2520and%2520Time.jpg&amp;description=10%20Homemade%20Baking%20Mixes%20That%20Save%20Money%20and%20Time"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/10%20Homemade%20Baking%20Mixes%20That%20Save%20Money%20and%20Time.jpg" alt="10 Homemade Baking Mixes That Save Money and Time" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-homemade-baking-mixes-that-save-money-and-time">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/another-36-uses-for-tin-foil">Another 36 Uses for Tin Foil</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/dump-cake-and-other-sweet-easy-treats">Dump Cake and Other Sweet, Easy Treats</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/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</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/14-effective-grease-and-oil-stain-removal-tips">14 Effective Grease and Oil Stain Removal Tips</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/cooking-for-beginners-10-recipes-for-kitchen-newbies">Cooking for Beginners: 10 Recipes for Kitchen Newbies</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink General Tips Home baking baking mix batter bulk cooking cookies pancakes premix Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:00:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1283487 at http://www.wisebread.com Save Time and Money With a Monthly Assembly (or Bulk) Cooking Weekend http://www.wisebread.com/save-time-and-money-with-a-monthly-assembly-or-bulk-cooking-weekend <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/save-time-and-money-with-a-monthly-assembly-or-bulk-cooking-weekend" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/assembly-168757791.jpg" alt="cooking" title="cooking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="181" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I recently had my very first experience with assembly cooking &mdash; and it was a blast. You might better know this method by some alternate names like &quot;bulk cooking&quot; or &quot;once-a-month cooking.&quot; Whatever it&#39;s called in your neck of the woods, the goal is the same: to do prep-work or actual cooking ahead of time and enjoy ease of meals for an extended period thereafter. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-ahead-food-10-things-to-cook-on-a-sunday?ref=seealso">10 Things to Cook on a Sunday</a>)</p> <p>If you haven&#39;t done this sort of work before, it can be somewhat overwhelming. Don&#39;t worry, though. Armed with my experience from planning, prepping, cooking, and freezing dinners for an entire month, I&#39;m here to help!</p> <h2>Planning and Preparation</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/assembly-137166547-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>First you&#39;ll need to decide the scope of what you want to tackle with your assembly cooking. You can go all out and do breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for an entire month. That&#39;s rather ambitious, but certainly doable. Or perhaps, like me, you&#39;d rather concentrate on a specific meal &mdash; like dinners &mdash; to get the practice down to a science.</p> <p>Whatever you choose to do, you&#39;ll need to consider a few things first.</p> <h3>Time</h3> <p>You&#39;ll need to plan your meals, write your grocery list, shop for ingredients and other tools, prepare everything to be assembled or cooked, and store properly. Depending on your experience, this could take anywhere from 2 to 4 days. It&#39;s well worth the investment, but if you don&#39;t think you have the proper slots in your schedule to see your plan through to completion, consider waiting another week or month until you do. (And this is also why I recommend starting with one meal like dinners, for example, instead of your entire month&#39;s menu all at once.)</p> <h3>Resources</h3> <p>Most of us are paid bi-weekly, but bills and other financial obligations might dictate cash flow at any given time of the month. That initial trip to the grocery store can be quite humbling when everything is bagged and the total splashed across that register screen. If you do have the flexibility, just know that you are very likely saving in the long run by buying your ingredients all at once. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buy-in-bulk-to-fill-your-pantry-and-your-fridge-for-cheap?ref=seealso">How to Buy in Bulk</a>)</p> <ul> <li>You&#39;ll encounter far less waste because you will have written a grocery list with a purpose for all ingredients (which I&#39;ll get to in a moment). Choosing meals with like ingredients can be helpful in this regard. As well, other more shelf-stable food items, like pasta, flour, oats, canned beans, etc., will keep if they are forgotten in a recipe or just not needed after all.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You&#39;ll also be able to take advantage of more manufacturer coupon deals, store 2-for-1s, or other specials. Try to pull out that flyer before heading around the store to shop the deals. Say you&#39;re planning to freeze black bean burgers, but white beans are on sale &mdash; you can easily substitute. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-delicious-healthy-and-cheap-bean-recipes?ref=seealso">25 Healthy Bean Recipes</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You&#39;ll get better use out of that bulk club membership by taking advantage of those gigantic bags of spinach or doubly large containers of pasta sauce. Things that seemed somewhat ridiculous for a single family might make total sense when used up for an entire month at once. Be sure to scope that per unit price to note the savings.</li> </ul> <h3>Storage Space</h3> <p>There are a number of ways to store foods for bulk cooking or assembly. Many people choose to freeze meals, which usually involves a dedicated freezer. Upright is the easiest to organize, but a chest works just as well. Dry or canned items will take up some pantry space, so clear out what is old or can be moved elsewhere before you get started. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-freezers?ref=seealso">5 Best Freezers</a>)</p> <p>If you live in a small home or apartment, don&#39;t fret. You don&#39;t need sprawling spaces to enjoy bulk cooking, at least on a smaller scale. Consider cooking for an entire week or two as a trial. Scale up as space allows.</p> <h2>Meal Planning</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/assembly-82153981-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Once you&#39;ve thought about all the preliminaries, it&#39;s time to crack open the cookbooks and search those food blogs. My best advice for meal planning is to favor simple recipes that require few ingredients or extra components. Think about those go-to meals you already have in your memory bank &mdash; would they freeze well? The fewer recipes you have to read, the better. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-best-cooking-apps-to-make-mealtimes-manageable?ref=seealso">8 Best Cooking Apps</a>)</p> <h3>Approach</h3> <p>Of course, you can go crazy with lots of different options for the month to avoid boredom. If you&#39;re anything like me, you sort of fall into a routine with similar meals each week anyway. Don&#39;t reinvent the wheel. With my own workweek freezer month, I opted to make seven different types of recipes &mdash; three of them were for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of each week. The other four alternated the Tuesdays and Thursdays to keep things interesting. By not setting out to make different dinners for each week, I simplified my planning, ingredients list, and cooking. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-eat-every-day-a-month-of-frugal-meals?ref=seealso">A Month of Frugal Meals</a>)</p> <h3>Ingredients</h3> <p>As I mentioned above, it&#39;s key to choose meals that make use of similar foods. Beans can be used for vegetarian burgers, crock pot soups, and burritos. Tomato sauce can be slathered on pizza or simmered with lasagna. You get the idea. Choose versatile ingredients for the most bang for your buck <em>and</em> flexibility in your cooking.</p> <h3>Methods</h3> <p>When meal planning, I keep those big cook days foremost on my mind. How would I do it all with just one tiny kitchen? Well, it took some creative thinking, but I came up with recipes I could cook on the stovetop, in the oven, on the grill, and in the crock pot &mdash; using everything all at once. Since I was cooking with similar ingredients, I&#39;d prep everything together and then toss and plop where it was needed. The best recipes are ones that require little prep and can even be mixed together by hand.</p> <h3>Storage</h3> <p>Whether freezing, refrigerating, storing dry, or canning, you&#39;ll want to consider how meals and specific ingredients hold up. Some things, like tofu, in my experience, don&#39;t store well in the freezer. Be sure to sleuth around to make sure the meal you&#39;re intended to put on your calendar will make it in one piece come dinner time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-freeze-foods-that-dont-freeze-well?ref=seealso">How to Freeze Foods That Don&#39;t Freeze Well</a>)</p> <h3>A Few Freezer Meal Ideas</h3> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-terrific-freeze-ahead-casserole-recipes">10 Terrific Freeze-Ahead Casserole Recipes</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheaper-and-healthier-than-store-bought-10-great-freeze-ahead-burrito-recipes">10 Great Freeze-Ahead Burrito Recipes</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-make-ahead-freezable-hot-breakfast-recipes">9 Make-Ahead, Freezable Hot Breakfast Recipes</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-awesome-easy-to-freeze-meals">5 Awesome Easy to Freeze Meals</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-five-day-freeze-batch-cooking-for-the-rest-of-us">The 5-Day Freeze: Batch Cooking for the Rest of Us</a></li> </ul> <p>Freezing is by far the most popular assembly cooking storage method, however there are several other ways to prepare food in bulk.</p> <ul> <li>Think about canning sauces or spreads, like fruit jam, in bulk to add flair and flavor to simple recipes.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Create your own spice packets for meals like Sloppy Joes, taco filling, or whatever else needs expert seasoning.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Mix together dry ingredients for on-the-go oatmeal, homemade pancake mix, or even quick breads or biscuits.</li> </ul> <h2>Grocery Items and Other Tools</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/assembly-178605985-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Once you have your meal plan ready to go, write it out and make a grocery list. Making a master list is made easier by writing meals out on a piece of paper, indicating how many times throughout the month you plan to eat them, and any other information you think is important. Then go through with a highlighter (or other method that works for you) and indicate similar or same ingredients.</p> <p>On another piece of paper, jot down the total number of, say, cans of tomatoes you need. Then organize by your favorite store&#39;s layout for the most simplified, least stressful shopping experience. There&#39;s nothing worse than being elbows deep in a stuffed shells recipe and realizing you forgot the ricotta. Being organized truly helps ensure you just need one big trip to the store. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-lower-your-grocery-bill?ref=seealso">How to Lower Your Grocery Bill</a>)</p> <p>As for storage, there are a number of tools you&#39;ll need for success.</p> <ul> <li>Freezer Bags. For storing meals and snacks, think different sizes (my favorite is gallon for soups and most everything else).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Plastic or Glass Containers. It&#39;s up to personal preference, but what doesn&#39;t work in bags will need to be stored in airtight containers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Plastic Wrap. For portioning larger meals, like lasagna, into separate servings (to be stored in larger containers).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Aluminum Foil. For providing an extra layer of freezer burn protection.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Labels or Tape. For creating a writeable surface to mark up.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Permanent Markers. For marking contents, dates, or other instructions.</li> </ul> <h2>Cook Day(s)</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/assembly-stk310074rkn-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>As you might imagine, planning ahead to cook with an organized approach is your best method to success. The cook day is by far the craziest &mdash; often taking from morning until night. I actually found myself ordering dinner out on my first cook day because I just couldn&#39;t prepare another meal. The next day, I was much more prepared for the madness. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-time-for-home-cooked-meals?ref=seealso">How to Find Time for Cooking</a>)</p> <p>Here&#39;s how to stay cool.</p> <h3>Write Out a Loose Cooking Schedule</h3> <p>Post your schedule on the refrigerator. Mark things like oven temperature, total cook times, or other recipe considerations you don&#39;t want to forget.</p> <h3>Lay Out Your Ingredients and Tools</h3> <p>Chop veggies in bulk, open all cans, and do as much work in a batch as possible. As if you were starting a surgery, make sure your mixing spoons, bowls, pots, pans, etc. are all clean and at the ready.</p> <h3>Take a Deep Breath and Start Cooking</h3> <p>Turn on some music or a television show. Enough to provide entertainment without too much distraction. Consult your guides or other instructions as necessary, but try to roll with it.</p> <h3>Consider Enlisting Help</h3> <p>The big cook experience can be fun, especially if you invite a significant other or friend. This person will provide more than just an extra set of hands, eyes, and ears in the kitchen.</p> <h3>Package Everything Up</h3> <p>Mark your packages with contents and date information, and cross off the to-do list. Make any notes you might find helpful for the following day, if necessary. Batch cooking is a process, and you&#39;ll find new tips and tricks with more practice.</p> <p>Basically, you just need to jump in. It&#39;s the best way to find what assembly cooking method or recipes work best for your unique situation. If you&#39;re interested to see a month of bulk freezer cooking in practice, you can check out <a href="http://www.neverhomemaker.com/search/label/freezer%20meals">my blog</a> with tips on everything from planning to preparation to afterthoughts. In the end, we were very satisfied with our meals, the savings, and the experience overall.</p> <p><em>Do you cook meals in bulk? What are some other tips or considerations you think we missed?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-time-and-money-with-a-monthly-assembly-or-bulk-cooking-weekend">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/10-homemade-baking-mixes-that-save-money-and-time">10 Homemade Baking Mixes That Save Money and Time</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/top-meal-planning-apps-and-websites">Top Meal Planning Apps and Websites</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/make-ahead-food-10-things-to-cook-on-a-sunday">Make-Ahead Food: 10 Things to Cook on a Sunday</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-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries">The Best Credit Cards for Groceries</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-credit-cards-for-dining-out">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Dining Out</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink assembly cooking bulk cooking Tue, 31 Dec 2013 00:27:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1597 at http://www.wisebread.com Top Meal Planning Apps and Websites http://www.wisebread.com/top-meal-planning-apps-and-websites <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/top-meal-planning-apps-and-websites" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cooking_dinner.jpg" alt="Cooking dinner" title="Cooking dinner" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="156" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A few months ago, I finally joined the rest of the world and got an iPhone. At first, I wasn't sure if I really wanted or needed such a fancy gadget, but the ease and convenience of having the Internet at my fingertips quickly erased any doubts I might have had.</p> <p>I mean, who <em>doesn't</em> need instant access to Facebook 24 hours a day?</p> <p>Facebook jokes aside, new apps and websites are created daily to help us manage almost every aspect of our lives. For example, one of the most stressful parts of my day comes when someone asks the inevitable question &quot;What's for dinner?&quot; They're three little words, but they have the power to strike fear in the hearts of mothers (and meal-preparing fathers) everywhere. For me, it isn't so much the cooking itself that I don't like, but rather the task of meal planning that makes me want to throw in the towel and dial up delivery.</p> <p>Fortunately, to borrow the trendy new phrase, there's an app for that. I've been visiting recipe websites for a while, but only recently did I discover that there are many other <a href="http://parentingsquad.com/best-meal-planning-apps-and-websites">meal planning apps and websites</a> that offer so much more.</p> <h3>Supercook</h3> <p><a href="http://www.supercook.com/">Supercook</a> is a website devoted to helping you answer the &quot;what's for dinner&quot; question. After creating a free account, you can type in the ingredients you have in your pantry, and the Supercook recipe search engine will find recipes that you can make with only those ingredients.</p> <p>The website is a great resource for those nights when you've got a package of chicken thighs in the freezer but no idea what to do with them, or when you need to make do with the ingredients you have on hand becase you don't have time to stop by the grocery store.</p> <h3>Once a Month Mom</h3> <p>At <a href="http://onceamonthmom.com/">Once a Month Mom</a>, you'll find a program designed to help you plan and freeze <em>an entire month</em> of meals for your family. You can choose from several menu options, including Traditional, Vegetarian, Whole Foods, Diet, Gluten/Dairy Free, and even Baby Food.</p> <p>One day a month, you will spend 8-12 hours cooking and prepping meals for the month ahead. I personally think this sounds like a daunting task, but I do like the idea of having my menu plan handed to me. I also like the idea of not having to scramble to put together a meal at the last minute.</p> <h3>Menu Planner</h3> <p>The <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/menu-planner/id304945491?mt=8#">Menu Planner app</a> for your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad allows you to store your favorite recipes, create shopping lists and meal plans, and keep track of what's on your pantry shelves. All your meal planning information is kept in one place and is aways easily accessible.</p> <p>If you choose to use Menu Planner, you'll love that you can find <a href="http://menuplanner.innovaso.com/tutorials.htm">tutorials and FAQs</a> to help you figure out what the heck you're doing (especially if you're like me and you're still trying to understand all this new-fangled technology in the first place). But keep in mind that Menu Planner is <em>not</em> a free app, and from what I can tell, is not available for Android either.</p> <h3>Ziplist</h3> <p><a href="http://www.ziplist.com/what_is_ziplist/on_the_go">Ziplist</a> makes grocery shopping easier than ever before. At Ziplist, you can create a free, customizable, online shopping list. This list can be easily updated by email, instant message, text message, or on the web, whenever you remember items that need to be added. And if you need help with meal planning, you can search Ziplist's extensive meal planning database. Once you've found a recipe you like, you simply click, and all the necessary ingredients will be automatically added to your shopping list.</p> <p>Ziplist also offers free apps for both iPhone and Android users, which will fully sync with your online account. With so many great features, this is one I definitely plan to use.</p> <h3>Relish</h3> <p><a href="http://www.relishrelish.com/why-menu-planning.aspx">Relish</a> is a meal planning website that operates on a subscription basis. For $7 a month ($5 if you purchase a year-long subscription), you'll receive weekly emails that offer a variety of recipe choices. Once you choose your meals, a shopping list will be generated for you.</p> <p>At Relish, you get to choose five meals a week, and can expect to spend about $90 purchasing the ingredients. Personally, because there are so many other free meal-planning options available, I don't know if Relish is worth the money. But I found many enthusiastic, positive reviews of the website, so you may find that it's worth every penny.</p> <p><em>Do you have other meal planning apps or websites that you prefer, or personal experience using the ones listed above? Please share! </em></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Quickly crafting delicious and healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners is easy when you have these meal-planning tools on your side. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This post is by Alyssa Chirco from our sister blog, Parenting Squad. Visit <a href="http://parentingsquad.com/">Parenting Squad</a> for more parenting tips and news:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/capture-and-share-family-memories-with-google-products">Capture And Share Family Memories With Google Products</a></li> <li><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/tips-for-moving-with-young-children">Moving With Kids: 23 Can't-Miss Tips To Help You Cope</a></li> <li><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/whole-food-replacements-for-junk-food-sweets">Whole Food Replacements For Junk Food Sweets</a></li> <li><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/9-household-items-to-use-as-toys">9 Household Items To Use As Toys</a></li> <li><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/from-the-playroom-to-the-boardroom-5-steps-for-returning-back-to-work">From The Playroom To The Boardroom: 5 Steps For Returning To Work</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/parenting-squad">Parenting Squad</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-meal-planning-apps-and-websites">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-8-best-cooking-apps-to-make-mealtimes-manageable">The 8 Best Cooking Apps to Make Mealtimes Manageable</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/6-apps-that-pay-you-to-workout">6 Apps That Pay You to Workout</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/organize-8-key-areas-of-your-life-with-these-17-smart-apps">Organize 8 Key Areas of Your Life With These 17 Smart Apps</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-11-best-parking-apps-for-your-city">The 11 Best Parking Apps for Your City</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-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you">7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Technology apps bulk cooking meal planning Wed, 20 Jul 2011 09:48:10 +0000 Parenting Squad 622060 at http://www.wisebread.com Make-Ahead Food: 10 Things to Cook on a Sunday http://www.wisebread.com/make-ahead-food-10-things-to-cook-on-a-sunday <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-ahead-food-10-things-to-cook-on-a-sunday" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000004500140Small.jpg" alt="Woman tasting batter in her kitchen" title="Woman tasting batter in her kitchen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="200" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Making food ahead of time so you can eat well and save money during busy workweeks is a great idea. But often when I read articles about make-ahead food, the focus is on ways to stock your freezer with heat-and-eat casseroles, soups, and other meals. This is wonderful, but sometimes, the most useful, frugal, and healthy make-ahead foods aren't frozen dinners, but ready-to-go meal components sitting in your fridge or pantry. The following 10 items are all easy to make on a Sunday (or whenever you have a day off during the week), and last for about five days (or more) in the pantry or fridge. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-five-day-freeze-batch-cooking-for-the-rest-of-us">The Five-Day Freeze: Batch Cooking for the Rest of Us</a>)</p> <h2>1. Beans</h2> <p>While the merits of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/canned-vs-dried-beans-which-are-cheaper">canned versus dried beans</a> are hotly debated, there's no doubt that pound-for-pound, dried beans are both cheaper and lower in sodium. The problem with dried beans, though, is that they can take an hour on the stovetop to soften up. Cook a pot of beans on Sunday, and use them throughout the week in salads, Mexican dishes like tacos or burritos, soups, and so on.</p> <h2>2. Bread</h2> <p>With mixing, kneading, rising, and finally baking, most yeast breads require at least three hours to make (although most of that time is hands-off). What better day than Sunday to bake a loaf of bread while you attend to other projects around the house?</p> <h2>3. Granola</h2> <p>Store-bought granola is often expensive and can be surprisingly calorie-packed. Instead, I make a batch of granola every weekend by mixing old-fashioned oats, cinnamon, chopped nuts, and maple syrup, and toasting it at 400&deg;F in the oven until it just starts to brown. Then I eat it with fruit and yogurt for breakfast throughout the week. This stuff will keep for even longer than a week in a sealed container, and granola also makes a great gift.</p> <h2>4. Pancake Batter</h2> <p>Pancakes don't just have to be a weekend breakfast. A batch of pancake batter keeps well in the fridge, and all you have to do in the morning is drop it on the griddle. When I was still working in an office, I took this one step further and brought my just-cooked <a href="http://www.dana-farber.org/Health-Library/Pumpkin-Buckwheat-Pancakes.aspx">pumpkin-buckwheat pancakes</a> into work. Enjoying pancakes at my desk while reading my morning emails definitely made the start of the work day much more awesome.</p> <h2>5. Chopped Vegetables</h2> <p>Whether you're using them for snacks or salads, pre-chopping your vegetables is a great way to make sure you have healthy things to eat when you want them. You can even separate them into serving-size-portioned Tupperware so you can just throw them into your lunch bag.</p> <h2>6. Hummus and Dips</h2> <p>Great with pita and vegetables or as a sandwich spread, hummus is super easy to make (this <a href="http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/israeli-hummus-with-paprika-and-whole-chickpeas-cocktails-2009">hummus recipe</a> from Zahav in Philadelphia is one of my favorites). Have it on hand &mdash; or other dips and spreads such as fresh salsa, olive tapenade, pesto, or balsamic bean dip &mdash; to liven up otherwise mediocre snacks and meals.</p> <h2>7. Muffins</h2> <p>A great grab-and-go food, muffins are awesome for a quick breakfast or as afternoon snacks. You can bake a batch on Sunday for the week, or make <a href="http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2010/09/healthy-and-delicious-refrigerator-bran-muffins.html">fridge muffin batter</a>. This stuff keeps in the fridge for around a month, and when you want a muffin, all you need to do spoon a little bit of the batter into a muffin cup and toss it in the oven.</p> <h2>8. Cookies</h2> <p>If you're packing lunches for young ones (or, really, for yourself), it's always nice to include a sweet treat. One of the reasons I love making my own sweets is that I can use ingredients like whole-wheat white flour, lower the sugar content (I find that using 3/4 of the sugar a recipe calls for is rarely noticeable), and make other alterations to provide myself with healthier, but still satisfying desserts.</p> <h2>9. Multi-Purpose Protein</h2> <p>Everybody who's lived in a house where the Sunday <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/one-pot-roast-a-week-of-cheap-and-delicious-lunches">pot roast</a> becomes Monday's beef stew, Tuesday's chop suey, and so on knows that having ready-to-go protein makes for quick-and-easy meals. You can marinate and cook some chicken or tofu on Sunday that can be easily tossed in a salad or paired with sides, or follow the classic model and cook a roast, turkey, ham, or seitan dish that will leave you lots of leftovers.</p> <h2>10. Side Salads</h2> <p>Having already prepared side salads can make lunch and dinner oh-so-easy. Whether it's bean salad, pasta salad, potato salad, cole slaw, or just a nice mix of vegetables, pairing a side salad with a bit of quick protein makes for a super-fast and satisfying meal.</p> <p><em>Do you prepare food on Sunday for the rest of the week? If so, what? Share your thoughts in the comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-ahead-food-10-things-to-cook-on-a-sunday">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/25-things-you-shouldnt-buy-at-the-grocery-store">25 Things You Shouldn&#039;t Buy at the Grocery Store</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/canned-vs-dried-beans-which-are-cheaper">Canned vs. Dried Beans: Which Are Cheaper?</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/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></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/buy-your-groceries-european-style">Buy Your Groceries European-Style</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-homemade-baking-mixes-that-save-money-and-time">10 Homemade Baking Mixes That Save Money and Time</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink bulk cooking cheap groceries make ahead food Wed, 15 Jun 2011 10:36:27 +0000 Meg Favreau 578133 at http://www.wisebread.com