5 Tips for Better Meal Planning

standard February 7, 2017 8 responses

January is always regarded as the month for starting anew – kicking a bad habit, resetting healthy habits, starting something new, or making professionals goals. It also tends to be a month where holiday parties continue, making it even harder to leave those sweet treats behind. That’s where February comes in. It’s the new January – the month to activate those goals you had in mind for last month…like family menu planning. If you’ve been a menu rockstar and already swear by your planner, feel free to keep reading for some new ideas. But if menu planning is something that you’ve been wanting to do, we hope you’ll find some inspiration from the tips below that were inspired by The Kitchn’s 15 Tips for Better Meal Planning. We’ve also designed our own menu planner to help you get started.  

5 Tips for Better Meal Planning: 

  1. Designate a day of the week to look for new recipes and keep them in the same place like Yummly, Pinterest or in a binder of ideas. 
  2. If you’re cooking for 2 or a family, take note of what everyone does and does not like as long as it fits into your healthy plan. Ask your kids for their favorites so that they feel like they have control over their dinner. There’s nothing worse than wasted food. 
  3. Grab a pen or pencil and sketch out your menu for the week with our handy menu planner template. Then take that with you to the grocery store so you can avoid impulse shopping and stay focused. 5 Tips for Better Meal Planning
  4. Create a system that includes regular theme nights (Taco Tuesday, Pizza Friday, Breakfast for Dinner), meals that provide leftovers to use as lunch or dinner, and components that can be prepared and stored ahead of time. 
  5. Take advantage of the big 3: Use your freezer for making produce and meats last longer, keep your pantry well-stocked with regular items like olive oil and grains, and avoid overstuffing your fridge so you don’t forget about food or let it go bad. 

 

How do you stay on track with your meal planning? Share your tips below and tell us some of your favorite recipes too! 

 

The Mrs. G Gingerbread House

video December 19, 2016 Leave a response

In honor of National Gingerbread House Day (Dec 12), Chef Vance created a replica of the new Mrs. G showroom out of gingerbread. Below is the recipe and his method in creating the masterpiece. Check out the time lapse of the assembly below. Make sure to like and subscribe to our channel so you will be alerted when new videos are added.

The Mrs. G Gingerbread House | Appliance Chef The Mrs. G Gingerbread House | Appliance Chef

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8 Ways to Add Flavor to Your Ice Cubes

standard July 17, 2015 Leave a response
8 Ways to Add Flavor to Your Ice Cubes | Mrs. G's Appliance Chef #stuffedicecubes #flavoredicecubes

Do you want to enjoy your water with a pop of color and a hint of flavor (but no calories)? Make ice cubes stuffed with fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

8 Ways to Add Flavor to Your Ice Cubes  | Mrs. G's Appliance Chef #stuffedicecubes #flavoredicecubes

The technique is very simple make-ahead, and the key to success is using boiled, filtered water. The rest is up to you.

Directions:

1.  Bring 3 cups filtered water to a boil. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for 4-5 hours covered with plastic wrap.

2.  Arrange your garnishes in each compartment of a large ice cube tray. Pour enough water to fill each compartment. Freeze trays 5 to 6 hours or until completely frozen.

3.  Remove trays from the freezer, and allow to sit at room temperature 3 to 4 minutes to allow frost to melt. Add the ice to water or other summer drinks

8 Ways to Add Flavor to Your Ice Cubes  | Mrs. G's Appliance Chef #stuffedicecubes #flavoredicecubes  

Here are some favorite flavor combinations (pin the image below for later!):

     -  Strawberry slices and basil

     - Tiny cubes of watermelon and cantaloupes with lime curls

     - Fresh thyme sprigs with lavender flowers (available at good spice stores)

     - Blueberries with orange zest curls

     - Nostrum flowers

     - Cucumber slices and mint

     - Dried rose petals (available at good spice shops)

     - Some herbal tea blends sold in bulk at artisanal tea stores are pretty spectacular in ice.

8 Ways to Add Flavor to Your Ice Cubes  | Mrs. G's Appliance Chef #stuffedicecubes #flavoredicecubes

Let your creativity soar and remember, beauty has no calories.

8 Steps to Flash Freeze Fruit (and Other Local Food)

standard June 24, 2015 Leave a response
NewJerseyBlueberries

Blueberries are one of the fruity highlights of the summer, and as the New Jersey State Fruit, we are fortunate to have them in abundance and in close proximity at the numerous local farms in Mercer County. Thankfully, there is a way to preserve the juicy flavor of in-season New Jersey blueberries and enjoy them in the dead of winter. The method is simple: Flash Freeze them. 

8 Steps to Flash Freezing Fruit (and Other Local Food)  | Mrs. G's Appliance Chef #flashfreeze #NewJerseyBlueberries #JerseyFresh
Source: JerseyFresh.nj.gov on Facebook

Flash freezing  extends the life of our local summer berries (as well as many other foods).

In food-industry terms, flash freezing means freezing foods “in a flash”  at extremely low temperatures. This method prevents the water molecules inside food from forming large crystals. Small crystals do a better job preserving nutrients and flavors. They also help the food keep its moisture when thawed. 

In home-cook terms, flash freezing means freezing individual morsels of food separately. This allows the food to freeze faster and keeps the pieces from clumping together. It also enables you to thaw and use just the amount you need.  (Please scroll down to the “how”).

Most good flash freezers are too cumbersome for the home. But the German manufacturer Liebherr offers a freezer with a “superfrost” option. The “SuperFrost” drops the temperature to a frosty -30. The operation is simple: Just push the button on the control panel. (it takes about six hours to drop to this temperature. So please plan in advance). Watch Debbie introducing the Liebherr flash freezers

You can flash freeze at home no matter what kind of freezer you have. You will need 2 items:

       1. A tray that fits your freezer, and 

       2. Freezer bags.

How to flash freeze: 

       1. Gently rinse the berries and pat them dry;

       2. Divide them into small, individual portions;

       3. Line the tray with parchment paper or plastic wrap;

       4. Place berries on the sheet or tray in one layer. Make sure the edges of the berries don’t touch. If they touch, they fuse
            together as they freeze;

       5. When the berries are frozen, remove them from the baking sheet;

       6. Transfer to resealable freezer bags or freezer-safe containers with tight-fitting lids;

       7. Label the package with the name of the item, and the date it was frozen;

       8. Return the food to your regular freezer (not to the flash freezer if you used it).

 And now to the million dollar question: How long can I keep my flash-frozen food?

According to the USDA, food stored continuously at temperatures of 0°F or below is safe to eat.  Yet over time, frozen foods might lose flavor, texture, and quality.

 So I’d say you should use your berries within a year. That is to say, until a new batch of Jersey Fresh berries is ready for flash-freezing.

For a complete list of Jersey Fresh availability and season forecast, visit JerseyFresh.nj.gov’s weekly guide at http://jerseyfresh.nj.gov/find/JFAvailReport.pdf. For a complete list lot what’s in season and when, visit http://jerseyfresh.nj.gov/find/availability.html