Warmer Weather Batch Cooking

For some, batch cooking tends to go out the window when the thermometer rises outside, because, well, most batch cooking is not ideally suited to hot weather. Who wants to simmer a stew on the stove all day when you’re trying to keep the kitchen cool? And while we’re asking questions, who wants to spend hours cooking when the kids are calling you to come out and play?

Still,  it’s nice to jump-start dinner with something from the freezer, especially after a hard day’s work in the garden. Batch cooking can still be done in the summer heat, but in my kitchen it changes from pot-roasts and lasagnas, to something more suited to summer.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes to double and triple for stashing away. While they are not entire meals unto themselves, they proffer a spring board to dinner (or dessert!), and provide the opportunity for a meal with substance. [Read more…]

10 Tasty Uses for a 4-Ingredient Tomato Sauce

Batch cooking starts with basic tomato sauce, I think we can all agree on that one. Having a few quarts of it in the freezer – or jarred up in the pantry – is reassurance of a quick hot meal in the future.

Tomato sauce is:

  • good for you – see ‘fun facts’ below;
  • versatile – I’ve listed ten quick uses, but there are many more;
  • seasonal year round – if you use canned tomatoes, as I do;
  • popular! Most children gobble up anything doused in it. This guarantee alone is worth a multi-quart stash.

The basic tomato sauce recipe I’ve included is ideal because of its down-and-out simplicity. I mean, four ingredients, folks! Canned tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh garlic and salt, that’s IT. [Read more…]

A New Way to Menu Plan

Chances are if you’re considering integrating a menu plan into your life, it’s because you’re looking to simplify cooking. Let’s face it, we’re all busier than we’ve ever been, yet we don’t want to compromise on bringing the family around the table for good, wholesome food.

We’ve covered the basics of successful menu planing here on Simple Bites already, but I often get asked exactly HOW I decide what to make. It’s a very valid question.

Sure menu planning starts off easily enough with a sheet of paper labeled ‘M-F’, but it is after that we often tend to get stuck; chewing on the end of a pencil, waiting for inspiration to hit, while we flipping mindlessly through cookbooks or surf cooking sites.

It’s too easy to waste time trying to deciding what to make.

Today I’m excited to share with you a quick way to plan out the weekly meals by implementing a menu plan that takes into account YOUR unique schedule and helps outline an appropriate meal for each unique day. [Read more…]

9 Tips to Successful Menu-Planning

Would you be jealous if you knew that I have a magic half hour? It magically makes my food and gas bills shrink, my family healthier, and my life less stressful. Don’t you wish you had that magic half hour, too?

The good news is that you do. All you have to do is use it.

That magic half hour is for menu planning. By planning ahead for the week I reduce the number of trips to the grocery store, avoid last-minute fast food dinners, and totally skip over the hour of doom (you know, the hour before dinner is due on the table and you stand looking in the refrigerator hoping to be able to produce something edible in 40 minutes from slimy lettuce, cottage cheese, and spicy barbecue sauce).

Here’s how it’s done in my home: [Read more…]

Menu Planning 101

The greatest thing about menu planning is that it takes the guesswork out of an already busy week. No one wants to be looking in the refrigerator at 5 o’clock at night, peering over every occupant, wondering what to make for dinner, again.

Planning your meals out allows you to know exactly what is coming. Having a big roast on Monday? Maybe take it out of the freezer on Sunday evening, allowing it to defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Not coming home until later in the evening on Tuesday? No-cook prawn salad will be waiting when you get there.

Get Started

You don’t need any fancy gizmos, gadgets, online tools or daily e-mails to get started with menu planning. The easiest first step is to locate a white board with attached corkboard and some erasable markers. [Read more…]