On batch cooking, plus a make-ahead & freeze cookbook giveaway

It’s a cozy Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting here watching the cold rain fall, thinking of all the times batch cooking has saved our family dinner time. Today, Danny is laid up with a nasty cold, and I’m juggling the busy household on my own, attempting to get ahead just a little bit for the upcoming week.

I’ve brought Danny a mug of hot ginger tea with honey, and am the afternoon has filled up with washing school uniforms, baking cookies for lunches, wrapping up homework, and making a M-F menu plan. Still, the boys want me to play a game of Sorry with them, the baby’s getting into everything, and oh!wouldyoulookatthetime? the Twitter chat I’m co-hosting is starting in 30 minutes.

I’m flying, and although I’m unsure if I’ll get half the things done I need to, I’m comforted with the fact that at least dinner is taken care of. Once again, batch cooking comes to the rescue.

We’re going to have a hot, balanced home cooked dinner, thanks to a hearty chicken & red lentil coconut curry I’m reheating. All that is required is for me to steam some broccoli and dinner is served. Maybe we’ll even taste-test the cookies for dessert.

No matter how busy the day gets, it’s really important to have us sit down as a family together for dinner; batch cooking is my time-saving tip to make that happen.

Today our Eat Well, Spend Less team of bloggers are talking about time-saving tricks in the kitchen – and highlighting Jessica Fisher’s new cookbook: Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook, too! Read on for more batch cooking tips and a chance to win a copy of Jess’s book.

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Eat Well, Spend Less: Bringing back the menu plan for fall

As much as I have been crushing on summer lately, it will be a relief to get into a fall routine. The last month has been deliciously scattered, with more waffle breakfasts than I can count, but I also can’t match one. single. pair of socks. We need some order restored.

This week begins our entry back into school. I’m packing Noah off to Grade 2, Danny out the door to work, and dropping Mateo at French-immersion preschool three afternoons a week. What Clara and I are going to do with our girl time remains to be seen. Perhaps we’ll whip this household into shape. Perhaps not.

At any rate, restoring order to our meals is my first priority. I kinda blew the food budget for my recent birthday dinner/harvest party (totally worth it) and am planning a lean September, which shouldn’t be that hard, considering produce prices are at their lowest right now and I have a well-stocked pantry of dry staples.

Cracking down and spitting out a weekly menu plan is also part of my plan to save money this month, as well as help us stay organized for busy school days. I’m no stranger to the menu plan, but it kind of goes out the window over the summer weeks.

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Homemade Strawberry Vinegar and a Spinach Salad with Feta & Pine Nuts

A salad a day is de rigueur around here now that summer has arrived, which means I have to daily face my nemesis: washing greens.

As far as kitchen tasks go, I’d rather shuck corn, peel potatoes, heck, even dice an onion over washing lettuce. I’m not entirely sure why I despise it so much, but the years of salad duty – garde manger – in professional kitchens certainly didn’t spark any affection for the job, and nor did growing my own greens fan any flames.

In one particular restaurant, I was yelled at if the lettuce was gritty. Understandably. But I was also yelled at for taking too long if I took the time required to wash the greens thoroughly (a minimum of three times, if you were wondering). I couldn’t win.

Now baby spinach and beautiful red oak leaf lettuce are growing in my garden. The rain pounds down around them, splashing droplets of soil onto the undersides of their leaves and I see a summer of lettuce washing stretching ahead of me.

Making vinaigrette for my daily salads, however, is a task I do enjoy.

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5 Ways to Make Freezer Cooking Work for You

Written by Jessica Fisher of LifeasMOM.

Some folks turn up their noses at the idea of a frozen entree. And with good reason. The TV dinners of the past as well as modern frozen foods don’t have much going for them in terms of taste or nutrition. Despite the convenience they provide, they leave one a bit turned off.

However, freezer cooking, aka batch cooking, the method of preparing large quantities of foods and freezing them for later use, can be a huge asset to your kitchen prep time. Not only do you get to dictate the taste and quality of your meals, but you also get the handy convenience that comes with having meals ready to go.

There are a number of ways that you can make freezer cooking work for you and your household. [Read more…]

How to Prevent a Domestic Disturbance

Written by Danny.

As the loving husband of your favorite Simple Bites Editor (Aimee), I’ve got the inside scoop on what really happens around here and today, I’m going to spill the beans and tell you one of our family secrets. We have a serious problem in our home, one that could very well lead to instability, sharp words, lost sleep and much, much worse.

Usually when there’s a problem in a relationship, both parties are partially responsible, but this time, I confidently accept no blame. It’s all squarely on Aimee’s shoulders.  You see, Aimee alone has a problem.  A serious one.

Her doctor has said that she needs to slow down and stay off her feet, but instead, she’s nesting. [Read more…]