My Emergency Freezer Meal

One thing I always keep on hand is an “emergency” freezer meal for those busy days I’m tempted to order take-out instead of finding the time to cook.

Stir-fry is a great freezer meal option.  You can keep a frozen bag of stir-fry veggies, a microwaveable brown rice option, and any protein you’d like to add to the mix.  Mixing all of this together can have dinner on the table in 15 minutes or less. I like to use an Asian sauce to the pan when mixing everything together — and it’s always a crowd-pleaser!

What’s your go-to “emergency” meal for when the time has slipped away from you?

The Benefits of Shopping the Bulk Aisle

The bulk aisle in the grocery store might seem a bit overwhelming or confusing at first, or perhaps you might misinterpret what it actually offers. Shopping in the bulk aisle is a great way to save money and the environment, and the quality is sometimes better than the packaged alternatives!

Here are a few of my favorite reasons to take a stroll down the bulk aisle:

It’s More Environmentally Friendly

If you have a goal to reduce single-use plastics and be more environmentally friendly this year, the bulk aisle is a great place to start. Shopping in the bulk aisle uses much less waste compared to buying the pre-packaged alternatives. All you need to store your bulk items is a bag or container. Most bulk aisles offer plastic bags, but the best practice is to bring your own instead. Bring some mason jars or other reusable containers to the store and put your bulk foods there. This way, you aren’t using single-use plastic packaging. Additionally, you only take however much of the ingredient you need, so you’ll be reducing your food waste as well.

You’ll Save Money

In the bulk aisle, you’re only paying for the weight that you decide to buy. This means that you can take only what you need, and therefore, you’ll be paying much less than purchasing a standard package size. Additionally, advertising and packaging items cost businesses quite a lot of money, so bulk items tend to cost much less per unit compared to the same things in a package. Many foods in the bulk aisle are no-brand alternatives, and while you may have a preference for a specific cereal or trail mix brand, other items such as beans, nuts, and seeds don’t differ much. You’ll be paying much less for the no-brand version than the same food with a fancy brand attached to it. If you’re using your own container, make sure to weigh it before putting in any items, or you may get charged for the extra weight.

You Can Test Out New Foods

Taking as little as you need means that you can experiment with foods that you’ve never tried before. You can buy a sample of some new ingredients without having to commit to an entire package of an item that you may not end up liking. For example, you can get a small scoop of some flavored nuts or try out a different type of flour. You can also get yourself a few treats without having to go overboard.

The Ingredients are Clean

Bulk items sell out fast, so the supermarkets are continually replenishing their stock. You can be assured that the food you’re buying in the bulk aisle is fresh. Not only this, but you can see the ingredient list and nutritional value clearly on the bins so you know exactly what you’re eating. Items like spices and coffee are much fresher than their packaged equivalents, which contain many additives and preservatives to increase their shelf life. In some cases, you can clearly taste the difference in quality.

Did you know you can freshen up your plants with your banana peel before you toss it?  Simply rub the inside of your banana peel on the plant leaves to clear any dust away, leaving it shiny and vibrant.

There are actually several helpful things you can do with a banana peel — such as using it on your skin for skincare, polishing silver, whiten your teeth, etc.

Who knew you could do so much with a banana peel!?

What is your MUST-HAVE kitchen item?

The appliance or tool you use the most in the kitchen — one you can’t possibly dream of living without?

For me, it would be a toss-up between my Instant Pot and Ninja Blender. I love how quickly you can whip up a meal with the Instant Pot and I use my blender every day for smoothies 🙂

So, tell me. What kitchen tool can you not live without?

Get to Know the Healthiest Foods You Can Stock Up in Your Pantry

Now that we’re in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, most of us have been relegated to the confines of our homes. You most likely stocked up on essentials, including perishable and non-perishable foods to sustain you through the stay-at-home orders.

While you’re generally subject to whatever is fresh at your local supermarket, pantry staples tend to be easier to grab and longer-lasting. I understand the shelves may be quite bare, leaving you with not many options to choose from at the moment. Even if you aren’t able to use these tips during the situation we’re currently in, still, take note of these pantry staples to stock up on once this blows over, and the shelves are filled to the brim again!

So, what are the healthiest foods you can put in your pantry?

– Proteins

You can make tons of different things with canned or dried beans, such as dips, soups, and stews. Canned beans tend to have more sodium, so try to find the ones with no sodium added if they’re available. Meanwhile, nut butter can turn plain bread into a hearty treat, so stock up on your favorite nut butter. Quinoa is another excellent protein pantry staple that can be used in many recipes.

– Carbs

Choose brown rice, quinoa, and whole-grain pasta for the bases of your meals.  All types of potatoes and hearty squashes can add a more filling component to any meal. And of course, there are cans of vegetables that you can use for a swift side dish or with your favorite broth base to make soup.

Canned tomatoes almost need their own category. From turning into a sauce for your pastas, adding a rich taste to soups, or even to make Shakshuka with the eggs you have on hand, they can be used to make plenty of meals.

– Basics

Make sure you have the basic staples like flour (I prefer almond flour), baking powder, baking soda, and your favorite herbs and spices. Stock up on your favorite oils such as avocado oil and olive oil.  Broths and stocks are also great to always have on hand.

Don’t forget to plan ahead for hydration, also. Instead of stocking up on bottled water, try getting a water filter for your refrigerator so you won’t have to worry about stocking up anymore.  If you don’t have this option, invest in an inexpensive Brita pitcher with an extra filter to always have on hand. Another option is to fill a large 5-gallon jug with filtered water from the grocery store. Electrolyte drinks are also helpful in case someone gets sick.

Minimize your exposure and help get that curve to flatten by planning ahead for all supermarket trips. Know what you need and stock up to keep your kitchen brimming with love and delightful dishes that give you healthy nourishment.

If you haven’t already taken advantage of grocery delivery to avoid the stores, apps like Shipt and Instacart are great alternatives during this time.

What have you been cooking during these stay-at-home orders? Leave me a comment below, I’m sure we can all use some inspiration for some new dishes!

 

Have you started any spring cleaning yet?

Starting in the kitchen is probably more helpful than cleaning out that closet.  With how often you use your kitchen, I’m sure a good tidying up will take a load off of your shoulders.  When I spring clean my kitchen, I start with my refrigerator first.

Take everything out and wipe down the inside of your refrigerator.  Go through your inventory and toss anything expired.  Organize your fridge and make a list of things you need to replenish.

I’m sure you’ve heard all the different ways you can use cauliflower — but did you know sweet potatoes are quite versatile, as well?

For example, two of my favorite sweet potato hacks are using it for toast and mini-pizzas.

Search for some appealing recipes online and give it a try. You slice the sweet potato into little “bread-like” pieces and top them with your favorite toppings to achieve whatever you’re going for, whether that’s toast, pizza, or anything else you cook up out of creativity.

How does your spice collection look?

Do you have them organized in a spice rack?

Or perhaps they’re in disarray, with several duplicates taking up space.

While you’re tidying up your spice collection, here are a few ways to keep them in tip-top shape so you can enjoy your fresh herbs and spices for as long as possible.

Make sure you store them in air-tight containers out of the light.

There are loads of spice jar sets you can peruse on Amazon to organize your spices properly. Make sure you pick air-tight containers that will keep your spices safe from air.

For fun, what are the top spices you use the most?

How long do you spend in the kitchen every day?

Do you usually grab breakfast at the coffee shop, eat lunch out, or are you a brown-bagger?

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2013 and 2016, showed that 36% of adult Americans consumed fast food on any given day.  I was shocked by how high that number was, so I’m curious — how many of your meals are home-cooked per week?