We invited the Reynolds Real Momsâ„˘ for 2013 to answer your questions about how to save time in the kitchen.
Karen, Emily, Utokia, Tiffany, Whitney, and Ashley share their shortcuts for busy moms below!
rebeccan3 asked: Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe?
Emily answered: It's hard to pick just one but right now I am really liking the Crock Pot Ranch Pork Chops and Rice http://cleverhousewife.com/2012/09/crock-pot-ranch-pork-chops-and-rice/
la_bella_vita asked: What is your favorite quick and easy recipe?
Emily answered: The kids and I are loving Bubble Pizza because it's delicious and it's easy enough for the kids to make! (http://cleverhousewife.com/2013/08/cooking-kids-bubble-pizza/)
dusky_rose asked: What is your favorite kid friendly meal to fix on that busy day? And how do you make it easier to prepare?
Emily answered: We like to eat breakfast for dinner and one of the kids' favorite dishes is German Pancakes. It is so easy to prepare and it doesn't take long to cook in the oven either. http://cleverhousewife.com/2012/12/german-pancakes-with-brown-sugar-and-pecans/
aneela asked: What's a good quick recipe with 5 ingredients or less?
Emily answered: When I'm low on groceries and need to make dinner, I like to go with simple Meat & Potatoes topped with an egg. I prefer red potatoes but any kind will work, and I top it with seasoned ground beef, then the egg. http://cleverhousewife.com/2013/05/meat-red-potatoes-topped-with-egg/
megandwade asked: What do you do when that new recipe you've tried turns out to be a total disaster, and eating out isn't in the budget?
Emily answered: This doesn't happen super often, but it certain does happen. We turn to cereal for dinner and the kids are usually ecstatic!
QueenWisdom asked: Is there an easy way to have talk time with kids at dinner time?
Emily answered: I try to make it fun for the kids when possible. We often play telephone at mealtime, whether we are staying in or eating out. One kid will whisper something about their day into the next person's ear. Then we continue that around the table. As it gets slightly twisted from hearing impairment and whatnot, we all laugh and at the end, we all get told what the originator started with. So much fun!
sweetheart4171 asked: I dislike using more than one pan, means more time at the sink cleaning up what is your favorite one pot meal ideas/recipes?
Emily answered: Oh I hear ya! A couple of one skillet dishes we like are: One Skillet Frank & Beans Casserole http://cleverhousewife.com/2012/03/one-skillet-frank-beans-casserole/ AND One Skillet Sausage & Stuffing Parmesan http://cleverhousewife.com/2012/02/one-skillet-sausage-and-stuffing-parmesan/
QueenWisdom asked: How can I make more time to prepare better meals when time is always not on my side?
Emily answered: I suggest taking one day out of the week to prep ahead of time for those days where time is limited. Check out how you can use parchment paper to freeze prepared meals! http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/whats-new/whats-new-items/parchment-paper-freezer-storage-solutions-from-reynolds/?order=date&category=4304,4529,4648
terri76 asked: I need some quick go to meal ideas involving chicken!! Any Ideas??
Emily answered: I want to run something past you. Have you ever thought about preparing 5 meals in one day? This will take more time on that one preparation day, but then no time at all for the rest of the week. Try Five Dinners in One Day: Heat 'n Eat, using chicken: http://cleverhousewife.com/2012/09/five-dinners-in-one-day-heat-n-eat/
QueenWisdom asked: Emily how do you manage? I am on child number 4 now and just can't find the time to do anything.
Emily answered: Who says I'm managing? ;-) I have learned to let some things go because I can't do it all when I want it done. I also make sure to schedule alone time, or girl time, for sanity's sake!
kaybear123 asked: How to make normally unhealthy food (fried foods, sweets, etc) healthier?
Emily answered: Most everything that is fried can be baked with olive oil, and sometimes even turns out better! For sweets, cut down the amount of sugar and butter when possible.
pittymama asked: Favorite kitchen gadgets to cut meal time?
Emily answered: My kids and husband! ;-) I will often put everyone to work doing their own thing to speed up the preparation process. One child will set the table, someone is in charge of getting a beverage, one person to man the stove/oven, one for chopping, etc.
Miranda1127 asked: What is your most effective trick to making meals easier.
Tiffany answered: Do as much prep work as possible first thing in the morning. Gather your ingredients together, lay out your recipe, and if any dicing, chopping, mixing, marinading or cooking can be done ahead of time, go ahead and do it! I promise, the meal will come together much faster when it is time to make it!
alliesmom112 asked: What is your favorite healthy recipe for your busiest nights?
Tiffany answered: This is when I turn to veggie foil packets. The vegetables are beautifully seasoned, cooked but not mushy, and everyone cleans their plates! I usually pair them with a fast cooking protein like fish. (http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/whats-new/whats-new-items/tiffanys-salmon-packets/?order=date&category=4304,4523,4648)
MichelleK41 asked: What are your healthy snack/dinner alternatives guaranteed that kids will like?
Tiffany answered: Sometimes it is really all in the presentation. For example, in my house, broccoli is a fairy tree (and paremesan cheese is fairy dust that you sprinkle on top of it). Just get creative and encourage kids to play with their food a little bit...it makes them stop thinking that something is icky and start thinking of it as fun!
elasmimi asked: Are crockpot liners worth the expense?
Tiffany answered: YES!!!!! In particular, I would say any time you are making something in the slow cooker that has a great potential to stick to the sides (like macaroni and cheese, large cuts of meat, etc.). The amount of time you will save yourself cleaning up will be SO worth it. I was positively giddy the first time I used them! Check out how I used them for breakfast in my Overnight Oatmeal recipe: http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/whats-new/whats-new-items/overnight-oatmeal/?order=date&category=4304,4523,4648
countrygirlkat asked: What time saving tips do you have for packing school lunches?
Tiffany answered: Take the time to make a list of several possible components for a school lunch, and make sure you are stocked on those options! If your child is old enough, have him/her pack his own lunch the night before based on the available list of options! My Real Mom counterparts, Whitney and Ashley, have a great video showcase how to do this: http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/whats-new/whats-new-items/sandwiches-for-school/?order=date&category=4304,4526,4648
kaybear123 asked: How to get your children and significant other to eat their veggies?
Tiffany answered: I try to present a variety of options on a regular basis, and when I find something that my family consistently loves (like roasted veggies) I try to offer that option regularly. And I'm not opposed to sneaking veggies into dishes, either (smoothies and pasta sauces are especially easy).
kaybear123 asked: When i have hamburger all I do is make the same meals (meatballs, meatloaf, and hamburgers). I need ideas on what to make. Ideas?
Tiffany answered: When I'm at a loss for ideas, I always turn to the expert: Pinterest! Click this link for a search result of all things hamburger. I saw several out-of-the-box ideas near the top of the results! http://pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=hamburger
QueenWisdom asked: Do you ladies prefer baking over all?
Tiffany answered: For me it isn't about a favorite method of cooking, but instead about getting in and out of the kitchen fast. I prefer to make meals and use products that help minimize the hands-on time for the chef!
QueenWisdom asked: When are unhealthy quick meals just too much? I usuallly do this twice a week.
Tiffany answered: There's certainly nothing wrong with calling in a little help when you need it during the often rushed week nights. But fast-food options have really come a long way, especially if you pay closer attention to the offerings. I'd encourage you to look for options that are a bit healthier for your family (Subway is a personal favorite of mine, and I have no connection to them, I promise!). Or if the places where you always turn don't seem to have much that isn't loaded with calories and sodium, commit to trying a new place that has revamped its menu to help you feed your family fast AND take better care of their bodies!
Wish2Be asked: What's the best foil to use when grilling?
Tiffany answered: Reynolds Wrap has a foil specific for grilling. But if you don't have that, when in doubt use Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty foil!
Shannon636 asked: Would love to get some recipes for preschoolers, Healthy and interesting.
Tiffany answered: Consider offering a true feast in the eyes of your preschooler...but something that is really easy to prepare with just a bit of advanced thought. The baking cup snack trays I make for my preschooler and her friends during play dates are always big hits. They love the variety so much, and they typically try everything! http://stuffparentsneed.com/baking-cookies-with-parchment-paper-voting-day-giveaway/
mrswillie asked: What are some easy go to meals?
Tiffany answered: Here's my current favorite: build your own pasta bar! You can make a few different types of pasta ahead of time (if properly stored, they will keep for a few days in the fridge once cooked). Then just have a variety of add-ins and sauces on hand and the combinations are virtually unlimited! http://stuffparentsneed.com/pasta-recipes-that-mix-and-match-easy-kid-friendly/
pittymama asked: Do you use any cooking shortcuts during summer so you aren't over using the stove?
Tiffany answered: The slow cooker is a home chef's best friend during the hottest time of the year! You can make a hot meal without also making a hot house thanks to these clever gadgets. The other thing I find myself doing more of during the summer months is making salads that are bursting with veggies and cheeses and all sorts of fun add-ins. You most definitely can make a meal out of a salad, and that requires absolutely no cooking!
QueenWisdom asked: Tiffany Meritt I will def have to check out your blogs! I have never used Reynolds products (excluding foil wrap) now I am interested to know how it helps with your preparing meals?
Tiffany answered: Reynolds products are basically my sous chef in the kitchen. They help me with meal prep (parchment paper makes the PERFECT prep station...and you just toss the mess!). They help me ensure a quality product when cooking (I'm thinking of that amazing whole chicken I cooked the very first time I attempted one...so moist and perfect, thanks to the Reynolds Oven Bags: http://stuffparentsneed.com/how-to-cook-a-whole-chicken/). And they are AMAZING when it comes to clean up (from slow cooker liners to foil to pan lining paper, all of these products significantly reduce the amount of time I'm in the kitchen cleaning up after a meal).
4kidz916 asked: What is your favorite go to recipe for an extremely busy night?
Karen answered: I love this 5 minute prep Asian Chicken! It is delicious and sooooo easy. It's made in the crock pot so it's perfect to prepare in the earlier, less hectic time of the day. http://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/2012/03/5-minute-prep-slow-cooker-asian-chicken.html
Leelee1008 asked: Awesome! What is the one thing you do not like to cook in the crock pot?
Karen answered: I have this really great zucchini linguine recipe that can't be made in the crock pot but it's super easy so I don't mind :) http://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/2012/04/summer-faves-quick-and-easy-zucchini.html
sukainah asked: What is something quick and easy for kids to eat when there is a time limit, such as Cub Scouts or appointments?
Karen answered: Try these Baking Cup Meatloafs, which can be prepared ahead of time and reheated for those busy nights! http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/whats-new/whats-new-items/family-meals-karen-petersen/?order=date&category=4304,4524,4546
johnny4ever asked: Do you have a fav kid friendly recipe?
Karen answered: My kids love meatballs. These porcupine meatballs are a hit every time! http://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/2009/03/day-62-porcupine-meatballs.html
Bmat asked: What is a quick meal that is not only nutritious but also something grownups and kids like, and not from a fast food place?
Karen answered: I love these chicken gyros with tzatziki sauce. Because they are a Greek taco they can be made to order, somewhat. I love throwing the chicken in the slow cooker earlier in the day and getting the rest of it together right before dinnertime. http://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/2013/04/recipe-for-slow-cooker-chicken-gyros.html
Bmat asked: What if what you have fixed doesn't appeal to one of the children?
Karen answered: I require my kids to try some of what I have made. If they don't like it there are other items on their plate that they can choose from, such as salad, vegetables, fruit or bread. I don't make separate meals for anyone in my family. It's hard enough to get one meal on the table. Because I have done this for 4 1/2 years my kids have turned into good eaters. I think it's really important to be consistent and let them try new foods often. Another option is to create foil packets, so each meal can be customized for each member of your family. Check out how to make these here: http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/kitchen-tips/tip-technique-items/how-to-cook-using-aluminum-foil-packets/
Lauren486 asked: I love getting new ideas for school lunches. What is the best non-sandwich based meal you pack?
Karen answered: I love packing my kids different things like sliced up pitas with tzatziki dip or apples and peanut butter. I also make turkey roll ups with whole wheat tortillas, turkey, cheese, mayo and mustard.
Peachy34500 asked: What are some healthy easy go to snacks?
Karen answered: Fresh fruit smoothies, Greek yogurt with honey, granola and sliced fruit, bananas and peanut butter, cottage cheese and tomatoes, whole wheat toast with fruit spread, fruit leather, whole grain tortilla chips with fresh salsa, carrot sticks and sliced bell peppers with greek yogurt dip, tuna on whole grain crackers.
Peachy34500 asked: What are some easy quick recipes for busy school nights?
Karen answered: I love love love making these little 5 minute pizzas. They are so good and so easy! http://utah.todaysmama.com/2013/07/23/5-minute-personal-pizzas/
pittymama asked: Do you use the stove top or oven more?
Utokia answered: I like to use recipes that do not require me to babysit the cooking process so I would have to say I use my oven more. This is one many reasons I love Reynolds Oven Bags and Foil Packets! You can check out a roasted beet salsa recipe made in a Reynolds Oven Bag here: http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/whats-new/whats-new-items/oven-bags-infuse-flavors-with-oven-bags/?order=date&category=4304,4508,4648
pittymama asked: Is there a recipe you love to use with reylonds wrap the most?
Utokia answered: I would say my Honey Salmon; Salmon is a delicate fish, when using Reynolds Non-Stick aluminum foil I don't have to worry about it sticking to the pan.
pittymama asked: What is the meat i should choose for a quick meal night? I find certain meats to be more time consuming than others.
Utokia answered: I would say chicken; whether you grill, fry, bake or roast chicken, it doesn't take hours to do it.
pittymama asked: How do you keep your family involved in the kitchen?
Utokia answered: I give my children small safe jobs in the kitchen like prep work; cracking and beating eggs, chopping veggies (with a butter knife and with direction) and other small things that make my life in the kitchen a little easier and teaches them small things they'll need to know when they become independent in the kitchen.
pittymama asked: Are there any specific ingredients you keep on hand to make meals easier?
Utokia answered: I always have corn starch to thicken sauces and chicken broth to give flavor or make dishes juicy.
Utokia answered: I love my food processor and blender. I am big on saving time in the kitchen so pairing these gadgets with Reynolds products has me in and out so I can enjoy my family.
pittymama asked: Any tips for healthy, quick snacking for the grown ups in the house?
Utokia answered: Peanut Chocolate Snack Mix by Reynoldskitchens.com
harmony7 asked: With the heat of the summer what tips do you have for traveling with those meals we take to family or friend gatherings to keep them safe yet ready to eat?
Utokia answered: If you prepare a salad, I would not make the salad until you get there, slice and dice the veggies, wrap them in paper towel and then in Reynolds Foil and place in a cooler for travel.
harmony7 asked: What method do you prefer for safe thawing of meats?
Utokia answered: Time permitting I highly recommend allowing meats to thaw in the refrigerator. If you do not have lots of time, allowing them to soak in water is great as well.
countrygirlkat asked: What a wonderful program! My question has to do with crockpot cooking. I have found quite a few recipes for pastas in the crocpot but they always seem to come out mushy and sticky when I make them. Any ideas on how to avoid this?
Utokia answered: Great question, pasta doesn't take long to cook, so when you are making a meal in the crockpot that has pasta, add your pasta in the last 5-10 minutes of cooking to avoid mushy pasta!
Kmakksmom asked: What are some tasty recipes to make in Reynolds Foil packets?
Utokia answered: Oh my goodness there isn't enough time to mention them all. Here are a few; bar-b-que shrimp by ShesGotFlavor.com, Lemon Chicken Primavera by ReynoldsKitchens.com and Tuscan Halibut by ReynoldsKitchens.com
Bob192 asked: What is your favorite packet meal?
Utokia answered: I would have to say the ShesGotFlavor.com grilled bar-b-que shrimp, the foil packets just lock in the flavor and allows the shrimp to marinate in the bar-b-que sauce. When you eat the shrimp the flavor is amazing!
Bob192 asked: What is the most original thing you have cooked or baked?
Utokia answered: I would have to say my Pineapple Cheesecake Cupcakes, it was cheesecake meets upside down pineapple cake, the result was incredible!
Bob192 asked: What is a good recipe for a quick week night dinner?
Utokia answered: I would say my Baked Chicken with Egg Noodles (http://shesgotflavor.com/baked-chicken-egg-noodle-dinner-for-4-for-10/)
batjmom asked: With busy schedules, after school practice .. What is your go to quick healthy dinner?
Utokia answered: I would say my After Work and Right Before Football Practice Honey Salmon, Fried Corn and Broccoli. (http://shesgotflavor.com/after-work-and-right-before-football-practice-honey-salmon-fried-corn-broccoli/)
batjmom asked: I like to make my own salad dressing. But could uses some new ideas.
Utokia answered: Sweet Lemon Vingaigrette - I made it with my Grilled Scallop Spinach Salad. (http://shesgotflavor.com/mouth-watering-grilled-scallop-spinach-salad-with-sweet-lemon-vinaigrette-dressing/)
GwenMB asked: What are some easy, healthy school lunch ideas?
Utokia answered: Chicken noodle soup in a thermos with a salad, homemade chicken strips with a honey mustard dipping sauce with fruit, Sandwiches cut into fun shapes, Bottled fruit smoothies, Homemade spagetti.
QueenWisdom asked: Utokia, you definitely have to show me how this cooking relieves stress. Lol I will be checking out shesgotflavor as well, but I have to know do you create recipes for all cultures of food?
Utokia answered: Smile ~ cooking relieves stress for me because I love to do it and I get to taste as I cook (wink). Yes absolutely I love creating all types of cultural foods like my Curry Chicken Quarters (http://shesgotflavor.com/juicy-stovetop-melt-in-your-mouth-curry-chicken-quarters-with-rice-beans-and-cabbage/) and my Pastelon. (http://shesgotflavor.com/pastelon-puerto-rican-lasagna-with-arroz-con-coco-coconut-rice/)
Whitney's & Ashley's Answers:
Bob192 asked: Do you have a go to tool or appliance that saves lots of time in the kitchen?
Whitney & Ashley answered: We can't live without our slow cookers! See this recipe for Cherry Apple Cobbler using a Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner here: http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/whats-new/whats-new-items/slow-cooker-liners-make-dessert-with-your-slow-cooker/?order=date&category=4304,4526,4648
QueenWisdom asked: Does your cooking methods save on energy?
Whitney & Ashley answered: Our cooking methods save a lot of physical energy! Not having to clean up messy pans by using Reynolds products is amazing!
QueenWisdom asked: Do you ladies ever use the microwave?
Whitney & Ashley answered: We rarely use our microwaves. When we do it's not to cook meals (we might reheat leftovers).
QueenWisdom asked: Is it ok to make desert after every meal 7 days a week?
Whitney & Ashley answered: Sure! Why not? It doesn't hurt to have a little bit and there are lots of healthy desserts to add to the rotation!
RobynS asked: School here starts in August (next week, ack!). When the weather is still hot, can I make a sandwich the night before and freeze it for the next day?I'm wondering if it will get mushy as it thaws in my DS's lunchbox... or if it will thaw fast enough. Wouldn't want him to bite into an icy sandwich. :/
Whitney & Ashley answered: We do it ALL the time! We find that it stays cold but it's definitely not frozen come lunch time... Perfect! Just store the sandwiches in Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil, and voila!
Leelee1008 asked: Dinners on school/sports nights. Quick and easy?
Whitney & Ashley answered: Our kids love making their own 'pizzas'... We just use English muffins with a bit of pizza sauce, cheese and any other toppings and throw them on a foil lined baking sheet. We let them make their own and then we bake them for a few minutes at 400 degrees until the cheese melts. These are a great meal on the go that the kids can enjoy too. Plus, they do lots of the work for you! ;-)
AspensMama1537 asked: What is your go to for fastest and healthiest meal?
Whitney & Ashley answered: Barbecue Chicken in the Slow Cooker! Just throw in some chicken breasts with barbecue sauce and low fat Italian dressing and cook them on low for 6 hours. You just shred it before you eat it. My kids love it too served on wheat rolls! For another easy and healthy chicken recipe, click here: http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/easy-recipes/recipe-items/slow-cooker-herbed-chicken/
QueenWisdom asked: Do you find some of the recipes you make beneficial toward time? My cooking is time consuming!!!
Whitney & Ashley answered: Anything cooked in the slow cooker! Dinner time is a crazy time at our houses, so we find that by throwing it together earlier in the day, it saves a ton of stress and chaos later at dinner time! Check out our chicken and dumplings recipe here: http://www.shanty-2-chic.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Crock-Pot-Chicken-and-Dumplings.pdf
Many thanks to the moms of CafeMom for the wonderful questions and to the Reynolds Real Momsâ„˘ for 2013 for their awesome answers!
Thanks so much for your tips!
Quoting Cafe Naomi:Karen's Answers:4kidz916 asked: What is your favorite go to recipe for an extremely busy night?Karen answered: I love this 5 minute prep Asian Chicken! It is delicious and sooooo easy. It's made in the crock pot so it's perfect to prepare in the earlier, less hectic time of the day. http://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/2012/03/5-minute-prep-slow-cooker-asian-chicken.htmlLeelee1008 asked: Awesome! What is the one thing you do not like to cook in the crock pot?Karen answered: I have this really great zucchini linguine recipe that can't be made in the crock pot but it's super easy so I don't mind :) http://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/2012/04/summer-faves-quick-and-easy-zucchini.htmlsukainah asked: What is something quick and easy for kids to eat when there is a time limit, such as Cub Scouts or appointments?Karen answered: Try these Baking Cup Meatloafs, which can be prepared ahead of time and reheated for those busy nights! http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/whats-new/whats-new-items/family-meals-karen-petersen/?order=date&category=4304,4524,4546johnny4ever asked: Do you have a fav kid friendly recipe?Karen answered: My kids love meatballs. These porcupine meatballs are a hit every time! http://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/2009/03/day-62-porcupine-meatballs.htmlBmat asked: What is a quick meal that is not only nutritious but also something grownups and kids like, and not from a fast food place?Karen answered: I love these chicken gyros with tzatziki sauce. Because they are a Greek taco they can be made to order, somewhat. I love throwing the chicken in the slow cooker earlier in the day and getting the rest of it together right before dinnertime. http://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/2013/04/recipe-for-slow-cooker-chicken-gyros.htmlBmat asked: What if what you have fixed doesn't appeal to one of the children?Karen answered: I require my kids to try some of what I have made. If they don't like it there are other items on their plate that they can choose from, such as salad, vegetables, fruit or bread. I don't make separate meals for anyone in my family. It's hard enough to get one meal on the table. Because I have done this for 4 1/2 years my kids have turned into good eaters. I think it's really important to be consistent and let them try new foods often. Another option is to create foil packets, so each meal can be customized for each member of your family. Check out how to make these here: http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/kitchen-tips/tip-technique-items/how-to-cook-using-aluminum-foil-packets/Lauren486 asked: I love getting new ideas for school lunches. What is the best non-sandwich based meal you pack? Karen answered: I love packing my kids different things like sliced up pitas with tzatziki dip or apples and peanut butter. I also make turkey roll ups with whole wheat tortillas, turkey, cheese, mayo and mustard.Peachy34500 asked: What are some healthy easy go to snacks? Karen answered: Fresh fruit smoothies, Greek yogurt with honey, granola and sliced fruit, bananas and peanut butter, cottage cheese and tomatoes, whole wheat toast with fruit spread, fruit leather, whole grain tortilla chips with fresh salsa, carrot sticks and sliced bell peppers with greek yogurt dip, tuna on whole grain crackers.Peachy34500 asked: What are some easy quick recipes for busy school nights? Karen answered: I love love love making these little 5 minute pizzas. They are so good and so easy! http://utah.todaysmama.com/2013/07/23/5-minute-personal-pizzas/
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