Now that the kids are less than two weeks away from getting out of school and the days are getting longer, you’ll want to spend more time in with your kids and outdoors than you do in the kitchen. Getting started and incorporating these tips will add hours or more each week for fun quality time with your family. After all, no one wants to labor over a hot stove during the summer.
Meeting after meeting, hours of working on a computer, getting the kids dressed, organized and ready for a summer play date, taking them to the shopping mall. These factors can present not only a challenge, but can also be an opportunity to change your cooking habits for the summer months to come and provide a great menu for your nightly family dinner.
Let’s get started on implementing some new techniques on making summer time cooking quick, fun and easier on you and your family.
Do you hate the last-minute frenzy when you are trying to put a meal together and everyone is hungry and in a hurry? Be ready by having a Shopping List. You don’t want to go to the grocery store without one. We tend to spend more on items we don’t need or that are not on sale. Every week grocery stores come out with a weekly ad. Take a quick peek at the ads as your making your list. Make your meals according to what items are on sale. Even when you are physically at the grocery store, sometimes they will have even more added savings with in-store coupon ads next to the shopping carts. Always check those out. Once you have your shopping list made, your ready to go shopping.
I try and do most of my shopping when I have time afterwards to be in the kitchen. Just choose one day that works for you. Once your in the kitchen, your are ready to start. Once you’ve created your meals, it’s time to freeze them. This way, while your making dinner on Sunday, take out Monday’s dinner and put it in your refrigerator to thaw and it will be ready for Monday. During the Spring and Summer months, I double recipes for meals that will freeze well. It will definitely save you and your family an hours worth of cooking time you can turn into family time.
Make Your Own Spices~ Every wonder what to put on your food? Why not try and create your own family spice creation! Prepare a blend of your favorite spices ahead of time. Just make sure you write it down somewhere so when you run low you remember what you created. For example, lemon pepper, garlic powder, hickory salt, paprika and dried mustard makes a quickie rub for steaks. Do the same for spaghetti, vegetables, etc. Try putting your marinade on your meats before you put them in the freezer. While they are thawing, they are marinating. Pop on the grill, cook and serve. How fast was that?
Leftovers~ If your leftovers start to pile up in the refrigerator or your family wants something new, freeze them before they go bad. Designate on spot in your refrigerator to put leftovers. This way they don’t get pushed to the back of the refrigerator and you forget them. This is where Mr. Mold decides to come for a visit. Mr. Mold is not welcome in our house.
Coupons~ As I mentioned previously, it’s always good to check your weekly grocery store ads. They tend to put extra coupons in their ads for additional savings. Searching the Internet for coupons is also a great asset to your shopping.
Alternatives for Eating Out~ Home cooked meals can be such a great experience for your family and is less expensive than eating out. For a family of 6, you could easily spend over $100 on a complete meal for the family. Spending that $100 to eat at home from food you’ve prepared can feed a family of 6 for at least 3-4 days. Spending good quality time with your family is pricesless. Pick a night where everyone contributes to preparing the meal. Kids find this so rewarding.
21st Century Crock Pot~ This is a lifesaver in the kitchen. This is a must 21st Century Crock Pot for every kitchen. Cooks your food in the microwave or oven. Make your meals in a matter of 29 minutes or less. Great way to make a meal in a matter of minutes and very little prep time. It’s also fun and easy to experiment with recipes by combining those ingredients you know will go well together. An all year round kitchen tool that definitely helps when you have little energy to work in the kitchen or want a quick meal.
Have a Picnic~ When the day starts cooling down, enjoy a light meal outdoors. If you’ve been feeling couped up from the weather, this will help your family take a break away to enjoy a relaxing meal together. Invite friends to go along. Make it a potluck, socialize and have fun! We have a wonderful backyard where we can choose to have a pool party theme or just a backyard grilling adventure.
Hope everyone has a great summer and enjoy the warm weather!