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(Sunday, November 12, 2006)
— By Cynthia Sass
You’re busy but want to put a healthy, tasty meal on the table for your family. Here are some tips, tricks and time-saving ideas from three food pros that you can use at home—every day:
From Judie Byrd, cookbook author and founder of Super Suppers, a meal-prep franchise:
• Buy wisely. Use frozen chopped onions in place of fresh; buy new potatoes, which don’t require peeling; always shop at the same grocery store—the better you know the layout, the less time you’ll need.
• Make it halfway homemade. Add frozen corn, peas and chopped onions to canned vegetable soup; add a pinch of dried thyme to jarred spaghetti sauce.
• Look to your pantry for quick ideas. You’ll be surprised by what you can whip together with staples like canned beans, chili and diced tomatoes, pasta and instant rice. (Try chili pasta topped with grated cheese to quickly feed a hungry brood.)
From Ruth Lundquist, co-founder of the meal-prep franchise Let’s Dish!:
• Stay one step ahead. As soon as you return from the grocery store, brown freshly ground beef or turkey, then freeze it. When you’re in a hurry, thaw and fold it into store-bought spaghetti sauce for a quick dinner.
• Have a backup plan. Everyone has a few never-fail recipes. Keep their ingredients on hand at all times, so you can pull together a meal risk-free.
• Make breakfast for dinner. Eggs, omelets, pancakes or waffles taste great and can be prepared in no time. Kids love the idea of having breakfast for dinner.
From Cinnamon Combs, head of culinary research and development for Boston Market:
• Start with a ready-to-eat item. For example, buy a cooked chicken to serve with salad and rice that you make yourself.
• Buy fresh recipe-starters. For something new, pick up creamed spinach for a fast spinach-artichoke dip, or ready-made mashed potatoes for shepherd’s pie.
• Recruit your family to help. At the very least, they can set the table and fill the water glasses.