Cooking Tips & Tricks

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Is this still good? This is one question that you should know how to answer, but don’t always know the answer to. At least, I don’t always know without hunting for expiration dates. And while I have a very modest stockpile I still like to make sure that I go through and donate things if they are close to expiration date.

One of my tricks has been to keep a Sharpie in the kitchen and write the expiration dates large on the box so I can see it easily. But what about those things that don’t have an expiration date on them? All You Magazine has made it easy with this nice chart. I am definitely printing this off and taping it inside my kitchen cabinets for an easy reference for the family. Now for some of those questionable items it will be as simple as jotting down the date they are put away instead of hunting for those impossible to find expiration dates!
How long does food last? Here's what to keep... and what to toss.
[Source: Daily Savings from All You]
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Frugal Recipes

After reading that eating one piece of white bread is about as healthy as eating a spoonful of sugar,   I decided that one of my goals for this year is to begin eating healthier foods and finding more nutritious alternatives.

I’ve been researching healthy alternatives to ingredients we use and how to make your own healthy versions of favorite foods at home.   With that in mine, for What’s Cooking Wednesday, I’m going to share some of my research, including the obvious ones, just as a reminder.

  1. Season foods with citrus juice/fruits, vinegar, herbs & spices instead of salt.
  2. Eliminate salt or reduce by 1/2 in recipes that don’t need it to active yeast.
  3. Bind with gelatin or pureed fruit instead of egg.
  4. Replace 1 full egg with 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg subsitute.
  5. Replace oil, margarine, shortening, and/or butter in some recipes with applesauce or pureed fruit.
  6. Use Olive or Canola oil as an alternative to vegetable oil.
  7. Replace sour cream with plain yogurt.
  8. Use turkey versions of bacon, hot dogs, and similar products.
  9. Brown rice over white rice.
  10. Swap white flour with whole wheat (use 1/2 white & 1/2 whole wheat to save money)
  11. Coat pans with a light spritz of cooking spray instead of butter or oil.
  12. Use crushed cereal or rolled oats in place of bread crumbs.
  13. Make salads with dark green leafs like spinach, instead of iceberg lettuce.
  14. Try wine, balsamic vinegar, fruit juice, or low-fat broth as an alternative to unhealthy marinades.
  15. Check out vinegar-based salad dressings or try fat-free.
  16. Start buying whole wheat pasta and noodles.
  17. In most recipes, you can reduce the amount of sugar by 1/3- 1/2 half and add vanilla, nutmeg, or cinnamon to sweeten the taste.
  18. Remove the meat from recipes for a vegetarian version.   And, throw in more vegetables always!
  19. Skip the toppings& condiments, such as bacon bits, frosting, sprinkles, etc…
  20. When you can’t substitute, try a fat-free or low-fat version of the product.

How do you make your recipes healthier?

Craving more?   Browse the recipe index to find more frugal, quick, and kid-friendly recipes.

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Did you realize when you hold a recipe in your hands, many of the ingredients can be swapped without effecting the outcome? Make your recipes healthier by swapping sour cream with plain yogurt!

Try it. Your picky eaters won’t notice a difference and your meal will be less fattening.

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Here is the truth in one cold, hard fact – you have to offer a food to a child 10-15 times before they actually “acquire” a taste for it (source: UCSF Children’s Hospital).

As parents, all we can do sometimes is continue to cook healthy meals and place them in front of our children (and picky husbands) with fingers crossed, then hope for the best. Some, eventually they’ll develop a taste for, while others they may just never like. Such is life!

So while there are tons of fun tricks to make meals not only more enjoyable for your children, but also for you, in the end my advice is don’t give up! Most children go though a picky eater phase, but they out grow it (hopefully!)

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There is such controversy about making your children eat (really, there is a controversy about everything to do with children these days!). On one hand, you want them at least taste new foods and eat, but on the other hand making them clear their plates can cause obesity. I don’t know when my children are truly full (though I do often have an inkling). However, we have a strict rule in our home that everyone abides by called “The No Thank You Bite”.

It’s a rule brought into my life a long time ago by my mother, who invented it to get my sister and I to try new foods.
The rule is simple. To be excused from the table you must take one bite of every item on your plate. That’s it. No more, no less… just one bite. I’ve found that sometimes my children are being so stubborn they won’t eat it even after they realize they like it, while most of the time after one bite they realize it’s not so bad.
After freaking out to my pediatrician when my first daughter went through her extremely picky stage, I was told, “She will eat when she’s hungry.” It’s true too. They won’t starve themselves. and skipping a few meals won’t hurt them, so I let them try it and if they feel the need say, “No thank you.”
Pictured: My daughter, Izy (age 7 months) after a the failed blue-raspberry Popsicle experiment of 2007.

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