Tips and Techniques

I am far from an expert in the areas of cooking, raising children, and frugal living but I am passionate about learning and I am posting some tips that I have learned/am learning on my own journey. This page will be updated regularly. Please share your own tips and techniques!

Tips to Save Time

- Work on your knife skills. Most of the active time spent in the kitchen is on food prep. You can seriously cut down on prep time by improving your knife skills. You can take a cooking class, look at online videos demonstrating technique, and I have also found this great book. But most of all just PRACTICE. 

- Work smart, not hard. Cook multiple items at the same time. i.e roast parsnips, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash all in the same oven to triple your productivity. While things are cooking away passively, use that time to do prep work for the next meal, for instance chopping veg that you can then put in the fridge to be ready to use the next day.

Tips to Save Money

- #1 most important- Plan your meals! It significantly cuts down on waste and also the stress of what to make at the last minute. 

- Eat less meat and use less pricey cuts, saving prime cuts for special occasions. (many of these less expensive cuts are ideal for the slow cooker and so also save you time)

- Freeze anything and everything that can be frozen that might otherwise spoil and go to waste

- Save your bones and vegetable peelings and scraps in freezer bags in the freezer for use in making stocks and broths at a later time (also save your Parmesan rinds for adding flavor also).

- Shop local seasonal produce. Save money and support local farmers.

- Buy your staples in bulk. Make sure you purchase from a busy vendor so that you can be sure of freshness. 

- Try out store brands. I have found that I actually prefer some of the less expensive store brand items to their branded counterparts and some are identical (literally, some items are produced in the same factories) One example for us has been to switch to a store brand diaper. We not only save about $30 a month, but we don't have more leaks and Luc has less redness (I think because they are unscented).

General Cooking/Food Prep Tips

- Store your natural nut butters upside down. They won't separate as much and will be quicker and easier to use when you want them. 

- Sometimes it is faster and less messy to cut up food into baby pieces with scissors (especially things like waffles, pancakes, and even quesadillas).You can also use scissors to snip dried chilies, it works much better than a knife.

- If you use Baby Cubes or a similar product, freeze 3 tbsp portions of tomato paste (just buy the big can) so you always have some on hand. I don't know about you, but I never seem to use a whole small can before it goes bad and the squeeze tubes are handy but are about 10x the price.

- Never let overripe bananas go bad. Just chuck them in a freezer bag to use in  baked goods later. I am convinced that banana bread tastes better when made from previously frozen bananas.

- If your baby refuses to eat baby cereal anymore (and most sources suggest that they do so until age two), try sprinkling it on cut up fruit, it has the added benefit of making the fruit less slippery and easier for little ones with developing motor skills to handle.

- Fill an empty spice bottle with all-purpose flour. It makes an easier and less messy way to flour your surfaces before rolling out dough.

Many more to the meantime share yours!
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