Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tips and Tricks

I get some great questions via text, email, comments, IRL: How do I do it all?
First, I must be gracious, and say thank you.
Now, I must be honest, and say, I really don’t get it all done. Not even close. Trust me.

I make a rough outline of a weekly menu and a grocery list. I match coupons with sales. This is a tad time consuming, but I’ve streamlined it and found what works for me (and what works for me may, or may not, work for you!). I find that the time planning is much less (long term) then standing in my kitchen every night trying to determine what to make, and make 3 trips to the store for ingredients a week. That’s a huge waste of time. That’s not to say I’m perfect. Just last week I rattled off a dinner for A to make (he was home first) and he called needing me to pick up milk! It happens. But not often. My store triples coupons about once a month, so I stock up on staples (fiber one bars, baking items, spaghetti sauce). I shop early in the morning to get the discounted meat. The stores can’t freeze their fresh meat, but I can (and you can too). I’ll take it home, repackage it, label it, and toss ‘er in the freezer. Hello bargain. On an index card stuck to the refrigerator is where I list the possible dinners. It doesn't say: Tuesday tacos, Wednesday: Zucchini Italiano, but it does say the various meals I have the stuff to make: Tacos, Zucchini, Shredded Chicken.

I’ve also picked up some tricks to SAVE time. I’m all about SAVING TIME.

Numero uno: Cleaning the microwave. When I lived by myself, I cleaned the microwave twice. Once when I moved in and once when I moved out. However, somehow my microwave now needs cleaned more frequently. They’re tight spaces and the food is baked on. Yuck. Grab a large glass bowl or dish. Fill ½ to ¾ full, add a splash of lemon juice and place the dish into the microwave. Let this heat up for about 15-20 minutes. Use hot pads to remove the hot dish and water. The hot water will condensate and steam the interior of the microwave and you can wipe away the crud with a sponge and it will have a nice lemony smell. Easy. For an added bonus, when you’re finished pour the hot lemon water down the garbage disposal. It’s a good cleansing. I do this at work when 1) I’m having a bad day and need to clean something or 2) It’s too disgusting to ignore it and I want to use the microwave!

Numero dos: Clean up as you cook or bake. I know it sounds trivial, but while the water is boiling or the kitchen aid mixer is doing its thing – rinse the bowl, dispose of the egg shells. It’s multitasking and it’s golden baby. If you have a nasty George Foreman grill, while it’s hot and UNPLUGGED, splash some water on the grill surface (I wring out my sponge to get the vertical surface). The water will simmer off the debris, saving you the majority of the scrubbing time. This works if you grilled something in a skillet and it’s stuck. Add some water, turn on the stove for a bit and let the hot water loosen the food from the pan.

Numero tres: Before you start any project, get all the ingredients out. Then you’ll know instantly if you don’t have enough cocoa powder for the recipe. You don’t want to be in the middle of a recipe and have to stop for an ingredient. None of us live in Mayberry where you knock on your lovely neighbors’ door and ask for a cup of sugar. You’ll find things go quicker when you have everything out at your fingers reach. One big trip to the pantry is better than 7 small trips. Plus time between ingredients can be used for cleaning up (see #2), not gathering the next ingredients.

Quatro: Know when to cheat and when not to cheat. If the crust isn’t the focal point (maybe in a delicate cheesecake), use a store-bought crust (especially if you purchased it on sale and it cost you 25 cents). I have found a 35 cent coupon regularly appears. On triple coupon days at my store this is worth $1.05. Graham or Oreo crust at my store are usually on sale for $1.29. Score. NO ONE WILL KNOW! (Just don’t tell my mom!)

Cinco: This isn’t a time saver, but you’ll thank me all the same; crack your eggs in a separate bowl before adding them. If you get shells, you’ll now have an opportunity to get the shells out.

Let me know if you have questions, I'll post random posts similar to this one.

1 comment:

  1. I have always loved all your tips and it doesn't stop here....keep 'em coming!!!!