10 Kitchen Tips From One Mom to All Others

Have to cook dinner every night? These 10 tips will help you out!

By FamilyTime

 photo credit: Todd Coleman

Because no family can live on take-out pizza alone, a mom’s reality is that she has to cook dinner for the family. Just about every night.

We’re not saying dads, grandmas or even teenagers don’t sometimes pitch in, but most of the time it’s up to the mother in the group.

And so, to the rescue, we have gathered 10 family-friendly tips from cookbook author Katie Workman. These should go a long way to maintaining your sanity in the kitchen. It’s an eclectic grouping, but raising a family rarely follows a linear, logical path, either.

  1. Cook in big batches. There is little point to making small amounts of spaghetti sauce, chili, or soup. Double or triple the recipe and freeze what you don’t use for one meal to eat at another.
  2. Remember what is in the freezer. Keep a list either on the freezer door or in a nearby drawer. You can also keep the list on the computer, if you are that organized. Clearly mark and date all packets destined for the deep freeze.
  3. Keep a poker face when you put something new in front of the kids. If you say: “You probably won’t like this, but try it anyhow,” your child won’t even give it a chance. On the other hand, if you say: “You will LOVE this! I just know it!” your offspring most likely will resist your enthusiasm. (And they might even roll their eyes.)
  4. Start with small portions. A big bowl of something can be off-putting, while a two-bite sample is usually acceptable.
  5. Know your cooking dishes. For instance, a Dutch oven is nothing more complicated than a large, heavy pot with a lid, which works both on top of the stove and in the oven. Shallow baking dishes help casseroles turn crunchy-crispy; deeper dishes keep casseroles creamy-soft.
  6. Don’t be afraid of the food processor — either the small or the large one. These are great for whirring garlic and ginger together, chopping sizable amounts of onion and carrots, and chopping chocolate. Not so good, though, for mashed potatoes, which tend to go gluey in the fp.
  7. Speaking of mashed potatoes, there are lots of things that can be added to make them special: shredded cheddar cheese; crumbled bacon; chopped fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme or chives; dollops of pesto; some mustard mixed with horseradish (or nix the horseradish). Toss peeled garlic cloves in the cooking water with the potatoes for garlicky mashers.
  8. Get the kids involved whenever you can. Let them measure, stir, season. You will have to determine when they can wield a knife or use the stove, but there are always kitchen tasks even the youngest child can master. This empowers them. It really does! And they are more apt to eat their “own cooking."
  9. Herbs are optional. No one wants to eat bland food — oh wait! Kids do... A sprinkle of herbs to the simmering sauce adds flavor, but that scattering of chopped, fresh, green leaves on the chicken breasts or homemade pizzas could be a deal breaker for the kids at the table.
  10. Don’t deprive your children of apple or blueberry pie because you can’t — won’t? — make pie dough. Buy pre-made pie crust in the supermarket. It’s usually sold near the flour tortillas and biscuits packed in tubes (which, by the way, are not a bad purchase!).

Finally, remember that although there are times when only take-out will do, homemade is always the better alternative for flavor, satisfaction, and good health.

Your family is worth it, right?


All tips courtesy of The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman, published by Workman Publishing. For more, go to The Mom 100 Cookbook.