12 ways to help you eat well and spend less (recipe: Buttermilk Dressing)

12 Ways to Eat Well and Spend Less

Two long years ago a small group of keen food bloggers kicked off our Eat Well, Spend Less series, led by Jessica of Life as Mom. The series focuses on ways to feed our growing families nourishing and totally delicious foods while still staying within a reasonable budget.

Eat Well, Spend Less was created with you, the reader, in mind, but it has helped me immensely as the posts have been published over the months. The series has whipped my spending into shape and helped me to build better habits in the kitchen.

Since we’ve made it this far, we thought it was appropriate to take a look back at where we’ve come and the topics we’ve covered. Today I’m highlighting the best tips that I’ve shared since the series’ conception.

The points are brief, yet contain links to the full article should you wish to read more on the subject. And don’t miss my favorite new salad dressing recipe at the bottom of the post.

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Quick Asian Noodle Salad Recipe

Written by Allison of Some the Wiser. Welcome, Allison!

There are a lot of reasons to skip restaurant meals and eat at home.  Cooking your own meals at home is a great way to save money, eat healthy, and create memories in the kitchen.  As a single parent with small children, I don’t make it out to a restaurant more than a few times a year.

While I love the simplicity of eating at home and making meals from scratch, sometimes I crave the delicious ethnic flavors that my favorite local restaurants do so well.  With a little practice, I’ve been able to satisfy my cravings with a few simple tricks in the kitchen.

For me, the most difficult flavors to recreate at home have been those found in Asian cooking.  I can do Mexican/Southwestern style food with ease, and I am pretty good at recreating Italian pasta dishes.  Asian food, however, has been a little trickier to master.

I finally had a breakthrough with Asian cooking at home when I realized that there are a few simple ingredients that add all of the flavor that I missed from my favorite restaurants.

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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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More Warm Weather Batch Cooking

I‘ll bet that you didn’t expect to see homemade salad dressing as the top photo for a post about batch cooking, did you?

The term ‘batch cooking’ refers to dishes that are made in double or quadruple batches, and frozen for convenience. It usually refers to vats of chili, seas of lasagna, and spaghetti sauce by the gallon.

Here’s the thing. For me, batch cooking (and baking) applies to all aspects of feeding the family, not just hearty, ‘wintery’ main dishes. Summer is a busy time and I’m sure you don’t want to hang out forever in the kitchen any more than I do. Right? We want to get in there, be immensely productive, and then hit the beach with girlfriends. Or in my slightly less glamorous case, the plastic kiddie pool on the back lawn.

Batch cooking in summer allows you to get a leg up on dinner. These suggestions are not necessarily entire meals unto themselves, but all provide the base of wholesome -and delicious- summer fare. Last summer I introduced my warm weather batch cooking theory and covered ideas such as pizza dough, homemade pesto, and even a do-ahead dessert. Be sure to revisit that post for more inspiration!

Now we’ve just wrapped a series on frozen treats, but as everyone knows, man cannot live on popsicles and ice cream alone (although some of us would sure like to try), so here are few ideas for more substantial fare.

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Picnic Food Safety Tips (Recipe: Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad)

Written by Kristen of Dine and Dish.

It’s the time of year when families are grabbing their blankets, packing their coolers and heading to their favorite picnic spot. Nothing says summer like an afternoon of picnic fun with family and friends.

Don’t let your plans for the perfect picnic get overshadowed by unsafe food handling and storage. Armed with a few picnic food safety tips, you can keep the good times going while keeping food borne bacteria and illnesses at bay. [Read more...]