Time Saving Kitchen Tips

The Scramblog

Bare Minimum Cooking: 4 Tricks for Easy Meals During Busy Times

Over the past few days I have been having a lot of conversations with people about how overwhelmed they are feeling. I have come to think that for many of us, September is a month of unexpected overwhelm. Here’s my best guess as to why this month can be so brutal: for many of us September is a time of transition—a new school year, work commitments start up after summertime lulls, and other communities we are involved with start to kick into high gear with fall activities—and this we expect. But for some of us, September is also a time of playing catch up on all of those pesky tasks we put off over the summer (or maybe that is just me). So suddenly we find ourselves trying to get into new routines, take care of long lists of things that really should have been done months ago, and snap out of the slower pace of summer. It can be rough and oftentimes something's got to give… and for a lot of people that something is cooking. But what if you don’t want cooking to be...

10 Ways to Make Meal Planning Work Smoothly (So You Can Slash Time, Money, and Stress)

Are you frustrated with the way meals are going in your house? Too much takeout or cereal for dinner? Eating the same things over and over? Family complaining about what you make? Then maybe it’s time to turn things around with meal planning! There are so many reasons to meal plan, from saving time and money to making healthier choices (you are more likely to stick to dietary goals if you plan your meals) to less panic and tension as dinnertime approaches. But getting over the hump and actually doing it is a big struggle for a lot of people. Over the years I have found some ways to help to make meal planning less intimidating and more doable that I want to share with you.1. Keep It SimpleThere are all sorts of meal planning approaches out there from the classic weekly plan to two-week rotations, to even monthly systems. In my experience, the longer-term plans can be daunting, while weekly plans are more accessible. If you want some more structure you can try a...
  Aug 22, 2017  lunch, News, Time Saving Kitchen Tips

4 Tricks to Unpack the Stress of Packing Lunches (for School or Work!)

As much as I don’t want to admit it, the summer is rapidly coming to an end. For many of us, this means a return to “real life” and regular routines. It is also a time that many of us choose to focus on getting back into good habits after summertime indulgences. One of the best ways that you can help yourself get back on track is by packing lunch, whether it is for school or work, because while we often focus on a healthy dinner (and sometimes breakfast), a lot of us depend on convenient food options at lunch that are harder on our bodies and our wallets. For example, a typical salad at Cava (a fast casual restaurant in Washington, DC, where I live) costs over $9 and has over 700 calories! A lot of people I talk to dread packing lunches for their kids and/or themselves. I hear all the time that it feels time consuming, stressful, and even boring. I get it, I really do. While I am someone who grew up always bringing a lunch to school and then to work, there are still...

4 Tricks to Establishing a Back to School Dinner Routine with The Scramble

I don’t know about you, but I have a love-hate relationship with Back to School time. It is always a relief to have a regular schedule again and to have more time to get things done while the kids are in school. And yet each year I find that I am taken by surprise by the busy-ness that fills our afternoons with soccer practices, music lessons, back-to-school nights, PTA meetings, and other school year activities.

With all of the back to school craziness, it feels even more vital that we protect our family dinners as important time to have together—time to reconnect, to catch up, to share the events of our days. So each fall, during back to school time, I make it a priority to focus on getting our dinner routine back on track.

Here are the 4 things that I do to get our family dinner routine ready to go for the fall:

1.  Meal Plan: Plan out the meals for the week. Yes, The Scramble can do a lot of this for you, but my second step is to take 5 minutes to look at the...

Protein-Packed Oven Pancakes and Our New Make-Ahead Breakfast Feature

When I was six-years old my parents got called in to talk to the teacher because I was getting in trouble a lot during morning recess. The teachers couldn’t figure out why I was so cranky and they were wondering if something was happening at home or if I wasn’t sleeping well. As my mom sat there, undoubtedly feeling worried and embarrassed, it suddenly occurred to her: maybe I was hungry. So she decided to try an experiment—for one week she made sure that I had a protein-packed breakfast and then checked in with the teacher again to see how things were going. By the end of the week she knew her answer: I needed a protein-rich breakfast every morning to tide me over until lunchtime. My mom was an endless source of creative solutions for protein-rich breakfasts (and let me tell you, I gave her a run for her money with my pickiness!) and made them from scratch every morning, but as much as I wish it could be, that is not a realistic option in our house with our busy...

Want to Get Your Kids Cooking? 5 Mistakes We’re Making that Drive Kids out of the Kitchen (And How to Fix Them!)

Want to Get Your Kids Cooking? 5 Mistakes We’re Making that Drive Kids out of the Kitchen (And How to Fix Them!)Do your kids make you crazy in the kitchen? Or conversely, do you want to get your kids cooking and they express little to no interest?  Better yet, do you wish they will someday be able to prepare meals for themselves and the family? Here's how to get kids cooking. Most parents want kids to help in the kitchen and to learn how to cook so they can save money and eat healthier when they are on their own someday — at least in theory. But many of us are unintentionally driving our kids away from the kitchen with our words and actions.If you want to get your kids cooking, avoid these five common mistakes:1. Being overly critical. Constantly correcting kids or telling them they didn’t do something right likely sucks all the joy right out of cooking for them. When I first taught our daughter, Celia, how to make an omelet, I corrected her technique too much...

Easy Black Bean and Corn Soup (Just 4 ingredients!)

Black Bean and Corn Soup is a super easy, flavorful and incredibly healthy recipe that kids and adults love. Just 4 ingredients and 15 minutes to make it from start to finish! Watch the video (and please subscribe to my YouTube channel!)Soup-er Easy Black Bean and Corn SoupPrep + Cook Time: 10 minutes Make six 1 1/3 cup servings 45 oz. reduced-sodium canned black beans, drained and rinsed 1 cup salsa 1/2 tsp. cumin, or more to taste 14 oz. canned corn kernels, drained and rinsed, or use 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels Optional toppings: sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, shredded Cheddar cheese, hot pepper sauce, chopped fresh cilantro, tortilla chips In a medium stockpot over medium heat, combine 2 cans (3 cups) of the beans, the salsa, cumin, and 1 cup of water and bring it to a boil (cover it for faster boiling). While it is heating, use an immersion blender (also called stick or hand blender) to puree the mixture right in the pot, so it is still a...

Introducing Two New Six O’Clock Scramble Features to Make Your Life Easier!

The Scramble's New Features to Make your Life Easier!You asked, and we listened!  By popular request, we've added two new features to The Scramble's meal planning service to make your life easier (and meal planning more streamlined):
  1. You can now choose not to include any or all of the side dishes we recommend on your weekly menu plan and grocery list.
  2. It’s now much easier to refer a friend and earn free months when they join The Scramble. Give our new referral system a try by visiting your account page. We so appreciate your referrals!
What improvements would you like to see next? We LOVE hearing from you! Please share your feedback on these new features and your requests for future improvements here, or just shoot me an email at avivag@thescramble.com.

New Video: Easy and Healthy School Lunches You Can Pack in Less Than 10 Minutes (Featuring “Real” Foods! Not Junk Food)

Easy and Healthy School Lunches You Can Pack in Less Than 10 MinutesThink outside the lunchbox! Take a peek at my latest video for easy and healthy school lunches, ideas that you can pack quickly and feature whole foods and go far beyond the sandwich.   As parents, we know that you can never have too many lunch-packing ideas up your sleeve as a new school year gets rolling.

Watch the video (and subscribe to the YouTube channel so you don't miss any upcoming videos):

For further inspiration, check out some of my other easy, healthy and quick school lunches: These lunch ideas are stellar because they won't have you standing in the kitchen packing lunches for what feels like forever.  (In fact, they should only take you about 7 minutes!)  And... they're filling and great for your kids. (I've been packing school lunches for exactly 15 years!!)  Speaking of that, take a peek at my article...

This Year Will Be Different: 8 New School Year Resolutions for Parents Who Are Tired Of Doing It All

8 New School Year Resolutions for Parents Who Are Tired Of Doing It AllMoms and Dads, are you TIRED of making the kids breakfast, packing lunches, making dinner AND doing the dishes?  Basically, are you tired of doing it all?? Most of us realize that our kids can do more, whether it’s making their own breakfast, taking out the trash, doing the dishes or folding the laundry. But too often we hesitate to delegate, either because we don’t know the right age for the children to start, we get tired of nagging and decide it’s just easier to do it ourselves, or we have trouble relinquishing control of the way things are done. But, at the same time, we’re often frustrated and exhausted from trying to do it all, and we realize it would be better for all of us if our children took on more responsibility. Here's Aviva’s advice in the Washington Post for how to delegate more and get changes to stick. Please read and share your new school year resolution for...