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June 2020

Meal prepping without a meal plan

By Mike Thayer

Roasted Red PeppersChop, chop, chop!

Some people like to plan their menus, to include yours truly, but a lot of people aren't really into doing that.  No harm, no foul and eating on a whim can be fun!  But eating on whim can also be disappointing and it often begs questions like, "What do I want to eat?" or worse yet, "What is there to eat?"

Avoid the - what sounds good? - mindset and do a bit of meal prepping, not for a particular meal or set of meals, but 'mini-prep' if you will, so that when you do decide to cook, it will make putting that meal together a whole lot easier and faster.  Take advantage of foods you already have on hand, but are about to expire and take advantage of your freezer. 

When I've got a bag of carrots in the fridge coming close to an expiration date for example, I will slice, dice, roast, saute and FREEZE.  This extends the expiration date, I avoid the throwing away spoiled food thing and when I'm cooking a meal down the road that calls for carrots or I just need a quick side dish, I've got it at the ready in the freezer in various forms.

If you've got some canned chic peas about to expire, make some hummus, enjoy some, throw the rest of the batch in the freezer.  TIP, rotate your canned goods, always keep cans with the farthest out date in the back of the pantry or cabinet.  Don't just stack cans you just bought at the grocery store on top of the ones collecting dust, rotate those cans!

Did you buy too much of an ingredient for a meal or for a party?  Slice it, dice it, cook it, whatever, FREEZE it. 

Peppers are something I tend to over-buy, but they freeze well in raw form and can be used in a variety of dishes.  Freezing will change the texture of a lot of veggies, keep that in mind, because if you like snacking on a sliced pepper for example, don't slice peppers up thinking you'll have a great but simple snack to pull out of the freezer down the road.  It won't be the same fresh, crisp bite you enjoyed when first bringing those peppers home from the grocery store.  The peppers will however deliver some excellent flavor in soups, stews and here's a great one:  Roast those red peppers, put them together with those chic peas in a food processor for some roasted red pepper hummus.  It's another dose of YUM!

Leftover rice?  Throw it in a container with a protein like shredded chicken or diced ham and you've got a convenient, impromptu meal you can pull from the freezer.  Leftover taters?  Same thing, throw it in a container with a protein to create a base for a convenient, impromptu meal.  Pairing a carb with a protein and stashing it in the freezer goes a long way towards helping you quickly decide what to eat later on and is a time saver.  Bonus, having a stash of ready to go ingredients in the freezer is healthier for you than processed foods.

Got some berries that are going to go bad soon?  You could make a pie, but if you're not really into baking, say hello to ice cream!  I'm into simple desserts and some ice cream topped with warmed up blueberries or strawberries is super easy to put together, satisfying and most importantly, tasty.  Most fruits freeze well in raw form and you can keep things like berries in single serving containers too, ideal for snacking or portioning.

Avoid food spoilage, slice, dice, roast, bake, grill, etc., and FREEZE!  Extend the life of your food and easily create quite a bit of variety by making smart use of your freezer.  You'll save time, money and another BONUS - no more "What is there to eat?" anxiety.

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 

Related:  Plan your menus


Wine Review: Cookie Cellars Biscotti

By Mike Thayer

Wine Shop at Home AwardsI recently joined a wine club and I'm digging it!   Thank you Lori!  Shopping online at my leisure in the comfort of my own home, discovering new and exclusive wines and having them shipped directly to my door = Happiness in Every Sip.  I borrowed that line from WineShop at Home, the club I joined, it's a true statement.  

WineShop At Home, founded in 2005, is headquartered in the legendary Napa Valley. The winery, owned by the Fredrick family of Dallas, Texas, produces award-winning, exclusive, artisan wines across 50 brands.  Their wines have won over 200 awards in national and international wine competions!  And they've got everything to please any wine preference, choose from sweet and bubbly to dry and crisp whites, smooth and supple to bold and intense reds.   WineShop at Home features artisan wines for every occasion, palate and personality.

Included in my last shipment was an excellent red wine blend, here's the description from the WineShop at Home website:

Cookie Cellars BiscottiThis Cookie Cellars Biscotti red wine blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Zinfandel, 25% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Franc and offers dark red-fruit characters like plum, strawberry, cherry and blueberry in the nose.

Later, we are transported into a rich aromatic world of smoky bacon and toasted oak. From a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, the wine provides a fair amount of tannins in the attack, but this sweet red still has a pleasant smoothness to it.

It is a medium-bodied wine that should be enjoyed lightly chilled with Mexican food, mildly-spiced Asian food, meatloaf or chocolate desserts.

This red fits right into my wheelhouse because it's so well rounded, it's smooth in a stand alone glass, it's smooth with a meal, it's smooth with dessert.  If you have meatloaf planned for dinner for example, this is a smart choice and there's no worries about what wine to serve for dessert because the Cookie Cellars Biscotti has that covered too - great with brownies and a peanut butter frosting!   Yes, meatloaf and brownies were on the menu when I had the girlfriend over for dinner on Monday night.

The Cookie Cellars Biscotti is another MUST TRY and I'm giving it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. 

5 stars

Currently offering some great discounts, I highly recommend WineShop at Home, they've got award winning wines at every price, exclusive wines delivered right to your door! 

Contact Lori and set up your wine tasting today!

 


T-fal frying pans, quality cookware for a bargain price

By Mike Thayer

F-fal pan setWhen the eggs you're frying up for breakfast stick to the 'non-stick' frying pan despite the ample dose of olive oil, you know it's time to replace it.  The cheap frying pan set I bought at Walmart about five years back when setting up my apartment post-divorce were all in need of replacement as a matter of fact.  While I do enjoy my fair share of eating out, I do prepare most of my meals at home, so that el cheapo Walmart frying pan set endured almost every day use.  For the $18 or so I shelled out for the el cheapo stuff, I'd say I got some pretty good mileage out of those pans.

A frying pan upgrade was needed and heavier/thicker gauge metal pans, something that can hold the heat better, where the non-stick coating will last longer was a must.  Oh, and having to occasionally get the screwdriver out to make sure the loose handle didn't fall off those el cheapo pans was a bit of a nuisance.

Enter T-fal

Shopping with my girlfriend in Costco one day and browsing the 'kitchen stuff' isle, I picked up a T-fal 3 pack,  which consists of an 8 inch pan, a 9.75 inch pan, and an 11.25 inch pan.  For my cooking needs, this was a winner.  The pans are Titanium non-stick, with riveted handles (no more screwdriver!) and these pans are even oven safe up to 350 degrees.  But the best thing about this pan set was the price, just $24.99!

These pans are a pleasure to cook with, hold heat much more consistently than that el cheapo stuff did and are SUPER easy to clean.  This was a nice upgrade without having to shell out a lot of cash.  With proper care, these pans are going to last me more than the five years I cooked with that "e.c." set from Walmart.  I'm giving the T-fal 3 pack frying pan set 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, the only thing this set is missing is a lid.  I'd pay a few more bucks for a lid for one of the pans.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Related:  Prevent scratches on non-stick cookware

 


Wine Review: Fact White Wine

By Mike Thayer

Wine Shop at Home AwardsI recently joined a wine club and I'm digging it!   Thank you Lori!  Shopping online at my leisure in the comfort of my own home, discovering new and exclusive wines and having them shipped directly to my door = Happiness in Every Sip.  I borrowed that line from WineShop at Home, the club I joined, it's a true statement.  

WineShop At Home, founded in 2005, is headquartered in the legendary Napa Valley. The winery, owned by the Fredrick family of Dallas, Texas, produces award-winning, exclusive, artisan wines across 50 brands.  Their wines have won over 200 awards in national and international wine competions!  And they've got everything to please any wine preference, choose from sweet and bubbly to dry and crisp whites, smooth and supple to bold and intense reds.   WineShop at Home features artisan wines for every occasion, palate and personality.

Included in my last shipment for a hosting party was an excellent off-dry white wine, here's the description from the WineShop at Home website:

Fact White WineThis California White Wine blend of 65% Chenin Blanc, 25% French Colombard and 10% Chardonnay exudes aromas of lemon, apple, pear and lychee.

The attack in the mouth is quite round for an off-dry wine. There are no sharp angles and the wine is balanced all the way to the finish. In the mid-palate, there is citrus and acidity. This balanced Fact White Wine is very straightforward, fresh and will pair very well with many type of dishes.

Enjoy it with grilled fish, crab cakes, scallops or chicken salad.

I like this wine because it's not too dry and it has a sweetness to it in the finish.  Another plus is it's versatility, just look at the pairing suggestions from grilled fish to chicken salad, from fine dining to casual meal.  If you're doing wine and cheese, you can go high end with Brie or goat cheese, or you can keep it simple with some good cheddar.  This wine is a great pick for a go-to white for almost any occasion. 

The Fact White Wine is another MUST TRY and I'm giving it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. 

5 stars

Currently offering some great discounts, I highly recommend WineShop at Home, they've got award winning wines at every price, exclusive wines delivered right to your door! 

Contact Lori and set up your wine tasting today!