short cuts and tips

These lessons seem great and I enjoy cooking, but what about the busyness of my life?  I feel like I can’t get a meal on the table EVER!!  What can I do?

It is Sunday morning and we will be leaving for church soon. What can I do to avoid having to stop at the fast food restaurant on my way home?

Throw some frozen chicken breasts and rice into your crockpot.  Add water, celery, onions, and some spices.  Turn it on low heat and let cook while you leave for church.When you get home, 4 hours later, you will enjoy the delicious smell that will greet you as you walk in the door.   EASY dinner served.

Then when everyone is finished, use the little bit of leftover rice, chicken pieces and add some chicken bouillon to the crockpot.  If you have some American cheese add a few chunks of that.  As you enjoy your afternoon relaxing, your soup will be simmering.  Serve for an easy meal at dinner time.


Again, keep it simple.  Don’t give your children too many choices.  A simple bowl of oatmeal each morning is easy to make.  If you can make peanut butter on toast, do that.  Save the “fun” breakfast for the weekends when you may have more time.  If they know that they will be served that everyday, it will teach contentment and them looking forward to Saturday “fun” breakfast.


Use the crockpot each day and keep it simple with lentil rice casserole or black beans and rice.  You can throw this in when you wake up and have a big pot for the next few days.  Serve it plain or on a tortilla with lettuce, veges, and sour cream.


Keep your snacks simple.  Instead of making a few different ones, choose one or two and make a bigger batch.  Freeze and you will only have to bake once a month.  We like to make pumpkin muffins and energy bites to have on hand in the freezer.

Have a plan.  Keep it simple.  Repetition is good.  You know what to buy each week, everyone knows what you are eating, and there is no guess work for What’s for dinner?

Monday—-Meatloaf, sweet potatoes, and coleslaw


Wednesday–pot of soup

Thursday–spaghetti, salad, and bread

Friday-homemade pizza

Do the same thing each week.  Do it for one month.  When you get tired of it, choose a new food for your menu.   Spice it up by using different sides.  Choose something easy by having a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Meal fails and disasters

Having dinner fails???  Here are some quick fixes to help you make the most of your meals.

 How to save a stew from disaster.

It tastes flat.

Add salt and pepper to help fix that.  If you have some beef or chicken bouillon in the cupboard add that for extra flavor.

The meat is tough.

Cook it longer.  Additional cooking breaks down the muscular cuts of meat.  You may want to remove your vegetables with a slotted spoon to prevent them from overcooking.

It is burned on the bottom of the pot.

As soon as you  notice that your food is burnt on the bottom, immediately try and carefully scoop off the top and save it into another dish.  Be careful as to not scrape any of the burnt part into your new dish.  If you need to add more water, do so.

Soup too watery

Soup still too watery? Add ½ cup to 1 cup of instant potato flakes to help thicken it.  If you don’t have any of that on hand you can blend 1 Tablespoon of flour with 2 Tablespoons of water and then add 1 cup of the hot stew liquid.  Mix to remove any lumps, then pour into the entire stew.  It will thicken as it heats.

  Turn it into a haystack.  Layer rice, the mixture, and top with shredded cheese.  Adding some ranch or sour cream can help fix it as well.  We have turned many “chili surprises” into this type of meal. 

How to save a dessert from disaster:

Even the best of the best have had dessert disasters.  Don’t be afraid to perform a little “cosmetic” surgery on your desserts in case of fails.

You burned the bottom of your cake

Cut off the burned part with a knife.  Be careful to do so evenly so that the cake isn’t lopsided.  A bottom doesn’t usually affect the rest of the cakes flavor.

Your cake comes out lopsided.

Build up the frosting on the low cake’s surface so that it appears more even.

Your cake has holes in its side. 

Sometimes a cake sticks to the pan, and then it comes out with holes on the side.  Try picking off the cake remnants from the pan and “glue” it with some frosting to reattach it.  Cover with frosting on the outside.  If you are having a hard time making it stick, attach it, then freeze your cake till firm. Continue frosting as usual.

My pie edges fall off.

Use jam to glue the broken pieces back on. 

The cake and it broke coming out of the pan

Break the rest of the cake into pieces and layer it in a trifle dish with pudding and fruit.  Like a trifle.  Add some Cool whip.


How to save a dry roast or dry chicken

If you notice that your roast or chicken is a little dry tasting…..Just add more water.  One cup should do the trick.  A little tip is to add some bouillon flavoring to your water.  Then cover tightly.  Use foil or a lid and continue baking for a little more.  I have notice that a lower temperature and longer cooking makes for a tender meat.

Making dinner clean up easier

  • Use a tablecloth that doesn’t require ironing.  Using a tablecloth may seem like extra work at first, but if something spills or there is a lot of mess on the table, it is easy to just grab and throw into the wash.  For normal mess, just shake it out and fold it and use it again.  
  • Make sure everyone clears the table.  The secret to fast clean up is to have everyone pitch in and help.  It literally takes less than 30 seconds to pick up your dish, silverware settings, and drink and rinse it in the sink. 
  • Add up how many items are left on the table and divide them by how many “helpers” you have to clear the table.  Tell each child, “you put away 5 items.”  This will help and get done in literally a few minutes verses Mom doing it all and it taking five times as long. 
  • If your eating area is away from your kitchen, bring a tray or cookie sheet to put all of your items onto.  Scrape all the leftovers onto one plate and then stack the dirty plates to be taken into the kitchen.
  • Before you begin cooking, empty the dishwasher and clean out the sink to begin with clean spaces.
  • Spoon rests can sometimes be more hassle than good.  Use a piece of foil and place all your cooking spoons onto that.  When you are finished, throw it away.
  • If you are doing a lot of cooking prep and need to make multiple trips to the trash can, slide the trash can over to your work area.  No worries about dropping food scraps on the floor.
  • Fill the sink with hot soapy water and wash as you go.  As you do your baking and in between tasks, wash off the items used. 
  • Chop up extras—if you are going to pull out the food processor or take the time to chop up an onion for dinner, why not chop a few more.  It will be less work for later on in the week.
  • Use a bigger bowl when mixing things up, no worries about things spilling over the edge while you are mixing.
  • Line pans with tin foil that you will be cooking meats on.  Less clean up, just remove the foil.
  • Spray casserole dishes with nonstick cooking spray, helps when you wash them to not have to scrape off the food.
  • If you have to measure out oil and a sticky ingredient like honey or molasses, always choose the oil first.  This will let the other ingredient just slide out.  If you aren’t using oil, spray the measuring cup with cooking spray.
  • If you just measure water into a measuring cup, no need to wash it, just dry and put away.  Same goes for dry ingredients like rice or oats, just wipe them out and put back into the cupboard.
  • Measure, messy ingredients over the sink—flours, sugars, etc. 
  • Wipe up spills on the counter as they happen.  Keeps your counters from turning into a mess that will harden up later on. 
  • On days when you are pressed for time, stick to simple meals that are one pot cooking. 
  • When boiling things, if the pot starts to run over, place a wooden spoon across the top of the pot to prevent this from happening.
  • When cooking and you have an awful smell like say from fish or bacon?  Boil a small pot of vinegar in your kitchen.  Add 2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of vinegar.  You can also boil some water and coffee grounds, it won’t be as strong but will work. I have also added cinnamon and nutmeg to water and let simmered.  The best is vinegar but if you don’t have any, that will work.
  • Butter pans—use a piece of wax paper or place your hands inside of a small plastic baggy, no mess.