The Quick Guide to Organizing Your Pantry

Organizing! A concept that strikes fear into many of us! Images of hours and hours of sorting through boxes, bins and bags! Yuck! But the Catch 22 is that an organized home functions at a smoother and easier level than a disorganized one! So, what to do? Start with an easy and quick guide for one specific, heavily used area in your home: The Pantry! PURGE FIRST! What’s in there? Look at the dates on EVERYTHING. Expired items go in the trash. Do you have any ‘Mystery Food’? You know, cans without labels? Bags with unidentifiable contents? Boxes of who-knows-what? Throw those out too. Take out everything thats left, and set it all on the kitchen counter. Wipe down all the shelves with warm water with a squirt of dishsoap. Now: Let the organizing begin! TAKE INVENTORY Take inventory of everything you have.  Are you staring at a conglomeration of condiments that you can’t IMAGINE your reason for...

Time-saving Thanksgiving Dinner Tips

Whether you are a seasoned veteran in the kitchen or a newbie approaching your first Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve got some amazing time-saving Thanksgiving dinner tips that will make your meal preparations much easier. Don’t sweat it, don’t fret….you’ve got this. #1-Plan the Menu: This can be done weeks in advance provided you know how many people will be attending. If you haven’t done so, invite your guests now so you’ve got a good head count. I always take into consideration that I might make a few last-minutes invites so up the head count by just a few. As you plan the menu, decide whether you are doing ALL the food prep or you want to ask your guests to bring a side dish. I usually count on my mom for her amazing mashed potatoes and my dear friend to bring her delicious pecan pie. Find out if any of your guests have a particular side dish...

Quick Dish Washing Tips

Here are a few quick dish washing tips to hopefully make your time in the kitchen go a little more smoothly. First off, the longer you wait to wash the dishes the more impossible it will seem to wash them all. It’s like they multiply or something. 🙂 Our dish washing tips that I have learned over the years and works especially nice if you are responsible for everyone’s dishes in the house, is to fill the sink with water and soap as you are cooking. Once you’re done using a plate, cup, fork, spoon, knife, or whatever, just wash it! Make it a part of your routine and eventually you will get used to it. Just drop the used utensils in the soapy water when you are done with them. They will be waiting for you once you are done preparing your meal or when you are done eating. This tip also helps your spatulas...

A New Approach on How to Meal Plan

How to Meal Plan effectively and efficiently has to be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. I never know what to cook! I can look at a whole chicken and have no imagination as to what to do with it. Meal planning and how to meal plan for my lifestyle has helped me spend less time on worrying what to cook and given me extra time to worry about the food not burning. A New Approach on How to Meal Plan I do my grocery shopping every Sunday or if I am feeling extra rebellious every Wednesday when the grocery specials are out. I save time also by collecting all the ads of the local competitor grocery stores to get a price match *pats self on back* Before going to the grocery store I look through my fridge and pantry and start making my list of what to get...

Menu Planning Monday (or Sunday)

Sunday afternoons are my time to get planned for the coming week. A big part of our goal of organized living is getting our food in order. We’ve discovered the hard way that, if we aren’t planned, we end up spending WAY too much time and money on food during the week. In the spirit of Menu Planning Monday (which you can find ALL over the web!), I planned out 7 meals to cook for dinner, but I also wanted to get a few things ready to make sure we can have healthy breakfasts, lunches, and snacks through the week. Here’s what our dinners look like this week: Monday: Indian Tofu and Spinach with Almond Rice Tuesday: Chian Mai Curry Noodles from Quick and Easy Thai Wednesday: GRILL NIGHT!! Preseasoned beef filet tips from Fresh and Easy, Grilled zucchini and yellow squash (tossed with olive oil and Kosher salt) Thursday: Healthy Bowtie Chicken Friday: Stuffed Sole from Omaha...

Penny, the “Not So Crazy” Coupon Lady

The idea of couponing is a little overwhelming, and slightly frustrating, for me. I love to clip coupons, but I forget to use them. Then, there are the stories about the Crazy Coupon Ladies who have a closet full of mustard, just because they got it for $.02 a jar. I have no desire to become a hoarder, so how do I effectively use coupons to cut my grocery bill by 75%? I decided to talk with a couponing professional, Penny Parker, founder of ClipItBaby.com. Her stories amazed me, and her tips were so helpful that I just had to share. It’s a little bit long, but worth it! I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did! MG: How did you get started couponing? Penny: I have a long personal history with using coupons and found out at an early age what they could do for me. Initially, it was just to convince my mom to buy me junk food...

Epic Kitchen Fail….

 This weekend I was feeling adventurous in the kitchen. I wanted to make homemade ravioli, but didn’t want to take the time to make the pasta dough from scratch. Instead, I grabbed a box of pie crust mix that had been in our pantry for longer than I would like to admit, and mixed it up. I rolled it out super thin, cut circles, and filled them with a homemade pumpkin and ricotta filling. All was going well until I tried to cook them. This was when I discovered that, if you put pie dough in boiling water, it will not cook – It will completely disintegrate. When I realized that the mushy, foamy blobs would not be edible, I thought maybe baking them would be the answer. This created something closer to an empanada than ravioli. I probably should have stopped while I was ahead and announced we were having these “appetizers” as dinner, but I...

Tuna and Noodles Casserole Memories

My love of cooking goes back many years. I still remember being in 5th grade and surprising my friends with homemade Tuna and Noodle Casserole. I thank my childhood in South Dakota for giving me an extensive repertoire of dishes that can be made with a can of Cream of Chicken Soup…. Now that I am older and more comfortable in the kitchen, I love branching out and trying new things even more. Every once in a while we play Iron Chef and improvise, but for the most part we follow recipes we find online. If you are thinking of starting your own family dinner routine, or are just looking to spice it up a little (pun intended), here are a few of our favorite easy dishes from www.Food.com: Ratatouille – This is one of our favorite dishes to make in the crock pot. 15 minutes chopping in the morning, and you get to come home to a complete veggie and sausage...

Whoever Doesn’t Cook, Cleans

When my husband and I started dating, he always cooked for me. Sometimes it was the romantic, courting type of cooking, but more often than not, it was just a normal dinner. If he didn’t feel like cooking, he would announce we were going out for dinner. One night, about a year into our relationship, I invited him to my house and cooked him a gourmet, 4-course dinner. When we sat down to eat, he looked at me with a blank stare and said, “You can cook?” I simply smiled and replied, “You never asked.” Now that we have been married almost 4 years, the dynamic in our kitchen has changed slightly. My husband still cooks occasionally, but for the most part I do the cooking. I am the first to admit that I am not the most coordinated chef (I have been known to flick sautéed vegetables across the stove, fling tomato sauce up the...