Small kitchen habits can make a big difference in your cooking, so we love learning about the everyday cooking habits of cookbook authors, chefs and other food professionals. What are the small habits they practice every time they step into the kitchen?
This week we are talking to our favorite food experts to find out the simple cooking practices they rely on, and today Beth Moncel, budget cooking expert and author of the forthcoming Budget Bytes, shares eight habits that save money while also making life in the kitchen easier, cleaner and a whole lot happier.
What are some of your daily habits that make life in the kitchen better and easier?
• Portioning leftovers into single serving containers before refrigerating. This makes for easy "grab and go" lunches and makes it easy to visualize how many meals I have left.
• Freezing half of my leftovers to create a rotating stock of dinners that I can quickly reheat in the microwave on nights when I'm too tired to cook.
• Shopping my pantry before shopping at the store. Giving my pantry and refrigerator a quick glance before going to the grocery store helps prevent unnecessary purchases and inspires me to make meals based on what I have on hand.
• Cleaning as I go. Cooking a meal can already seem overwhelming, but the resulting mess can make take-out seem even more appealing. If you use the extra seconds between chopping and stirring to whisk away messes, you can spend more time relaxing after you meal and less time cleaning.
Are there any new kitchen habits you are hoping to adopt in 2014?
• Saving my vegetable scraps to make my own broth. I use vegetable and chicken broth to add flavor to many recipes, and making it at home is super easy. Using vegetable scraps that would normally end up in the garbage means making a broth that is virtually free.
• Labeling both frozen and refrigerated foods. I always label and date my frozen foods to prevent the fossilization of forgotten items in the back of the freezer, but I find that with my busy schedule it's just as easy to forget about food in my refrigerator. I plan to label and date my refrigerated food to make sure they're used up in a timely manner.
• Cooking more "one pot" meals. They're easy, make fewer dirty dishes, and usually freeze and reheat very well. 2014 will be about simplifying my life without sacrificing things that are important to me, including good food. One pot meals are an easy way to achieve this goal.
• Cooking more with family and friends. Food not only nourishes your body, but the communal activity of cooking and eating with others builds relationships and feeds the soul. Getting everyone involved makes for good times, good food, and good memories. Life is short!
(Image credits: William and Sons Photography; Avery)