Flavorful Southern Cooking…7 Basic Tips for Stress Free Meals
By Guest Contributor Shelia King
What is the difference between dinner and supper? In the South, folks referred to lunchtime as dinner and served supper after 6 p.m. Lives were much simpler back then. Families gathered around the dinner table and shared stories of their daily experiences. Both tradition and people change over time, though. Parents sometimes keep longer hours at the office. Stay-at-home moms are managing their own businesses along with taking care of their children. School kids follow schedules where they need an iPhone to successfully manage.
However, one aspect of living in the south remains the same… the tradition of serving home-cooked meals after a hard day of school and work and everything else.
In today’s society, we all experience the challenges of time management. Trying to get dinner on the table each night is hard enough, let alone moving towards leading a healthier lifestyle. The planning that’s required for each meal. The time necessary to stop by the grocery store on the way home. Don’t forget how tiresome dealing with crowds can be, especially after a long day of sitting through meetings and crunching numbers. We won’t even consider the alternatives. Life can be hard enough without adding on health problems derived from bad eating habits.
I, for one, will tell you about the difficulties associated with getting a meal on to the table. I work full-time and teach business classes in the evening. Yet, somehow, I still manage to find a way to get a few home cooked meals ready for my family.
Below are simple tips to follow for getting meals on the table each week.
❶ Decide on two meals to serve for the upcoming week. The entrees don’t have to be fancy. The weekends make the best time for brainstorming and purchasing the items you’ll need for the next few days.
❷ Often, I choose two meals that use the same type of meat such as chicken vegetable soup and chicken pot pie or chicken enchiladas. A great combination of weekly meals for my household is a chicken stir fry and a fresh salad with Cajun chicken tenderloin. I prefer to call these my simply signature meals.
❸ Purchase pre-cooked items such as a rotisserie chicken from your local bakery (Harris Teeter makes an excellent garlic chicken) to save some time. Or pre-cook chicken at home and freeze the leftovers for a couple of days.
❹ Buy in bulk the items that you use often. Also when these items go on sale be sure to stock up. For example, I use a lot of canned tomatoes, chicken broth, red potatoes, fresh spinach and black beans, so I always have these items on hand. Stay on top of sales by signing up to receive emailed notices from your favorite grocery store.
❺ Remember leftovers can be used for both lunch and dinner for the next day. This strategy not only saves time, but also should help reduce your weekly costs.
❻ Always keep ingredients on hand for at least one of your simply signature meals. On weekdays, I find it difficult to go grocery shopping and find time to prepare a meal too.
❼ If you run out of ideas, you can always serve breakfast food for dinner. Now that’s definitely a southern tradition we can all appreciate.
Tell us some of your ideas for cooking time management by leaving a comment below.