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Savvy Kitchen Investments PDF Print E-mail
By Melissa Tosetti
 
Thursday night I gave a presentation on running a Savvy Kitchen at the Cooks Nook in McPherson, KS. 
 
It’s one of my favorite talks because in my experience of working with clients, food is the number one area where people struggle. The presentation focuses on how to save both time and money from creating an effective grocery list all the way to managing leftovers. 
 
What was particularly cool about doing the event at the Cooks Nook is that part of the presentation concentrates on the importance of investing in good tools. Not gadgets, but tools. 
 
Gadgets are the As Seen On TV items you buy that never get used. Tools are the things that get used on a regular basis and are worth spending a little more on to ensure they work well and last. For example…
  • Invest in a good set of knives and you’ll be amazed at how much faster you can dice an onion or slice a tomato.
  • Purchase a quality set of pots and pans and they’ll cook more efficiently and last twice as long as their cheaper counterparts. 
One of the aspects of a professional kitchen that's worth imitating is that everything pulls its weight. There’s no clutter to slow down the process of preparing each and every meal.
 
With that said, it’s important to note that one person’s gadget is another person’s tool. It all depends on what you like to cook. For example, my husband Paul is crazy about egg salad. Fifteen years ago I purchased an egg slicer for about $5 that has paid for itself over and over again by saving me time. 
 
Another item that could be considered a gadget in one person’s eyes but a tool in another is the Chop Stir. I first saw one at my Aunt Sadie's house that she used while cooking hamburger. She has rheumatoid arthritis so the tool is a blessing for her! My mom now swears by it too.
 
To take the first step to streamlining your own kitchen, consider going through everything in it and getting rid of anything you haven’t used in the last year. This will not only help make cooking more efficient, but will also help make room for quality tools you may purchase down the road. 
 
One of the racks at the Cooks Nook
 
 
Do Ahead Meals PDF Print E-mail
By Melissa Tosetti
 
Growing up across the street from my grandparents had a lot of perks - my grandmother's cooking being at the top of the list. On any given day, there would be something delicious in her refrigerator, ready to be warmed up and enjoyed.
 
Making a large batch of stew, pasta or Portuguese beans and eating it throughout the week is one of the many savvy lessons I learned from my grandmother.  It's a habit I continue to this day.  In fact, there's a pot of lentils in my refrigerator right now that I've been eating in various forms all week.
 
I can easily eat the same thing for several days in a row.  My husband Paul, not-so-much.  He prefers more variety.  Because of that, we got in the habit of doubling what we cook on a regular basis so he has plenty of choices when time is tight.
 
One of my favorite blogs is Stone Soup by Jules Clancy where she focuses on how to prepare quick and easy healthy meals.  The other day she posted a great piece on The 3 Golden Rules of Do Ahead Meals.  It was her post that got me thinking about the habit of do ahead meals that my grandmother instilled in me. 
 
This weekend, take a few tips from Jules' article and make one or two extra meals.  Then, see just how much time and money you save throughout the week. 

 
The Pantry Challenge PDF Print E-mail

The 4th of July is over and the next major BBQ holiday is more than six weeks away.  Now is a perfect time for a Pantry Challenge!
 
By taking on the Pantry Challenge, you see how long you can eat using only the food you already have on hand - with the exception of purchasing fresh products like milk, eggs and produce. 
 
The Pantry Challenge was started as a way to encourage you to rotate through everything in your pantry and freezer within a three month period. The food in your kitchen should be consumed. Often, we get into the mode that a well stocked pantry needs to be static. If you see something sitting there for three months, either eat it or donate it to a shelter and don’t buy it again.

In addition to saving money, an added benefit of the Pantry Challenge is that it forces you to get creative. You’ll look at canned soup and dried pasta a little differently as you figure out how to make a meal from what you have on hand. Over the years I’ve received feedback from readers who have come up with new family favorites based on the need to get imaginative durng the challenge.

The longest any Savvy Life reader has gone without having to buy groceries (outside of milk, eggs and fresh produce) was three months!
 
Let me know how your Pantry Challenge goes. Drop me an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Note: This challenge does not include the food in your emergency kit. You should always have enough non-perishable food and water set aside to sustain you and your family for 3 – 7 days. Keep your emergency food and water supply in a waterproof bin along with your other emergency items.

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How Often Should You Dine Out? PDF Print E-mail
By Melissa Tosetti
 
Our grandparents rarely, if ever, dined out. Our parents may have gone out to eat once or twice a month. Now, it's easy to eat just about every meal outside the home.  Unfortunately, the cost of those meals quickly add up and because of the frequency, dining out is no longer a treat.

One of the fastest ways to save A LOT of money is to cook more at home, but, that doesn't mean you can never go out to eat again.

Just how often can you give yourself permission to dine out? It really depends on your particular financial situation. With that in mind, if you have been able to create the habit of spending less than you make and are systematically paying off your debt, a rule of thumb might be to dine out just 1 - 2 times per week. That could entail going out to lunch on Wednesdays and a nice dinner out with friends on Saturday night.

Deciding in advance your "Money Rules" when it comes to dining out will ensure you spend within your means and that when you do go out, you can do so without guilt to spoil the experience.
 
 
 
Worthy Kitchen Investments PDF Print E-mail
By Melissa Tosetti 
 
As you know, cooking at home increases your quality of life and saves you a lot of money.  The right tools can make all the difference in the world when it comes to food preparation. 
 
If you aren’t happy with your kitchen tools, consider replacing them over time.  Research and decide what you want, then wait for the items to go on sale. 

Invest in a quality set of knives, pots, pans and bakeware, and you'll have those tools for years to come - as long as you take care of them.  Just remember to only purchase what you'll actually use. 

You can also replace your plates, glasses and silverware if you aren't happy with them but, I would consider replacing your cookware first if that is on your list. 
 
 
 
 
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