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The Family Cook-In: 25 Tips For Quick Meals
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3:39 am
Don R
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by donR March 2nd 2016

Preparing the meal during a Family Cook-In is fun. However it is just one of several activities planned for the gathering. Prep and cooking needs to unfold in a short amount of time to allow for lots of game activities and meaningful conversations.

There are ways to assemble a nutritious meal without resorting to highly processed foods like Uncle Ben's Instant Rice or Jello Instant pie filling. Here are 25 ways to cut prep and cooking time:

  • Start the cooking session by posting a list of tasks and let families choose areas of responsibility. This will shorten the set-up and clean-up time plus promote a sense togetherness within the group of families.

Counter-top gadgets can be useful. Two items are almost a necessity for some purposes:

  • A food processor makes quick work when making hummus, salsa, pesto and salad dressings.
  • The hand-held immersion blender can puree fruit, emulsify soup and make smoothies much faster than using a fork,  spoon or wire whip.

Some foods can be cooked ahead of time and kept hot in a slow-cooker or roaster. This works for:

  • Slow-Cooked Pork
  • Roasted meats
  • One-skillet meals.

The first person to arrive for the event sets the stage for cooking:

  • Turn on the ovens to be ready for baking, roasting or as a warming oven.
  • Get water boiling on the stove for pasta, steaming or soup.
  • Set up prep stations with clean utensils and containers
  • Lay out recipes to alleviate confusion

Prepping ingredients is a great activity but sometimes it is a better option to buy it in the bag.  As an example, pre-cooked food from a restaurant supplier is often safer by reducing potential for food-born illnesses.  It is usually flavorful, budget-friendly and a welcome time-saver.

Note: follow directions about thawing it safely.

  • Chicken strips
  • Pulled pork
  • Taco filling
  • pizza crusts
  • Casseroles (like lasagna @ $0.60 per serving.)
  • Pre-cooked hamburgers

Prepared cold-cuts are washed and packaged  in sanitary processing plants. You will find bargain price at restaurant suppliers

  • Shredded cheese
  • Sliced deli meats
  • Cut carrot & celery strips.
  • Chopped salad mix
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Washed fresh fruit.

Buying from local farmers and growing your own produce sends an important message.  If time allows, buy local, wash it thoroughly, pat dry  and then slice & dice.

Otherwise the following packaged ingredients not only save time, they are processed when flavor is at its peak:

  • Spaghetti, enchilada and pizza sauce
  • Frozen vegetables. (easy to steam cook them)
  • Freeze-dried mashed potatoes

And as a final thought, cookies, biscuits, sweet rolls, baked apples, roasted veggies,  and French bread pizza can be easily made from scratch and cooked in a counter-top toaster oven. If you have other ideas, post them on our forum pages.

Coming next in the Family Cook-In Series part 5 we'll link  you with games your family will enjoy. It's all about "Food, Fun and Conversation That Matters."



If you think you are too small to make a difference...
You've never had a mosquito in your sleeping bag...anon

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