Make home cooking quick, fun again
Cheryl Walker
Skip the “Fast Food Take- Out” and make quick meals at home. With some planning, you can enjoy quick home cooked meals that are nutritious, great tasting and less expensive than takeout. Start by preparing a few meals a week at home and see if it helps your budget and your waistline.

Quick, healthy home cooked meals can become a part of the family’s busy schedule. As family members work together cooking, they increase communication and learn new skills. Delegating mealtime tasks to family members can save kitchen duty time for everyone in the family.

In order to have the home cooked meals it takes planning. First, you need to plan menus. Make a list of your family’s favorite foods. The listing needs to include dishes for each of the following food groups: meats, vegetables, fruits, milks, breads/grains/ cereals. You can even list some desserts for special occasions.

Next, take your listing and mix and match up a few menus that you can prepare quickly for busy days. You can also cook a double batch of a recipe for planned leftovers. This is a great way to save time.

Once you have your menus for the week, you need to make sure you have the items in your pantry or go shopping to stock your pantry. If you need to go to the grocery store, always have a shopping list. Go to the grocery store once a week or less, because the less time you spend in the grocery store, the less money you will spend.

Now that you have a wellstocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer you can turn your attention to food preparation. Make sure you have gathered up any needed recipes ahead of time. You don’t want to waste time hunting for a recipe.

Next, food safety is always a concern. Make sure you defrost meats in the refrigerator or as part of the cooking process. The kitchen counter is not a place to defrost food. Always make sure your hands, food contact surfaces and equipment are clean as you carry out food preparation.

As you cook, clean up as you go for efficient cleanups. If you use a dishwasher, empty the clean dishes before mealtime so dirty dishes can be loaded as they accumulate.

Quick home cooked meals take planning, but over time the process does get easier. Find the shortcuts that work for you and put some fun back into home cooking.

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2010-08-19 digital edition

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