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2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Every Kind of Cook

 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Every Kind of CookI will never forget the Christmas my mother only gave me cooking tools. I was 22-years-old, living on my own for the first time, and had been scraping by with two pots that had been bought in a bodega on the first floor of my building, a couple of cheap knives I think I had gotten at IKEA, and a set of measuring cups and spoons purchased at Target. That Christmas, when I opened my gifts, I was a little dismayed and secretly wished I had gotten maybe one fewer pot in exchange for a sweater or two, but looking back, those were some of the best gifts I ever received. They made it possible for me to explore cooking and expanded the types of meals that I could cook for myself. While I am not advocating for giving a loved one only cooking tools (unless, of course, that is what they ask for), I do think a solid cooking-related gift or two is always welcome. So, to help you find the best gift for each person on your list, I have...

5 Ways to Quickly Clean Out the Clutter in Your Kitchen

A wise friend of mine recently pointed out that fall is the perfect season to shed things that are no longer useful—just like trees shedding their leaves. I have noticed that this is a time of year when I tend to want to clean house and decrease the clutter (maybe it has to do with preparing for the winter when we will be inside more). If getting rid of clutter in the kitchen sounds appealing to you, here are some simple steps you can take to let things go.5 Ways to Quickly Clean Out the Clutter in Your Kitchen1) Pantry Check: Take 10 minutes to go through and pull out the half-full boxes of pasta, crackers, and who knows what else and divide them into two piles: food you will use and food you won’t. Put the items you will use back into the pantry (maybe even in a more organized way than before) and toss or donate the items you won’t be using. An important note, Rose Clifford, a RDN who manages the food and nutrition program at a senior services non-profit told...

Getting Kids to Cook (and Classes to Get Them Started)!

As I have written about before, food and family dinners were essential parts of my childhood. Ironically, however, despite my mom’s best attempts, cooking was not. The poor woman tried everything to entice me to cook and I did dabble a bit, but mostly I just wasn’t interested. And yet she persisted. If I wanted cookies, I had to make them myself (the first attempt was incredibly memorable, but that’s a story for another post). If I wanted boxed macaroni and cheese when my parents went out for dinner (since they definitely weren’t going to eat it), I had to make it myself. And then, when my brother and I were in high school, we were each responsible for one dinner a week. I dragged my heels but she stuck with it, making sure I had the basic skills necessary to cook for myself when the time came. Years later, when I first started my career as a health coach, I quickly noticed a pattern: clients who came to me reluctant to cook often spoke of never having anyone...

Stocking Your Freezer for the Nights When Cooking Isn’t Happening

So far in our back to school series of blog posts, we have talked about how to make breakfasts a breeze and how to get your kids to pack their own lunches. This week we tackle dinner. As a meal planning service that is committed to helping you get dinner on the table every night, we are all about planning ahead, but even we know that there are times when cooking just isn’t going to happen. Maybe you get home later than expected, perhaps you haven’t made it to the grocery store yet, maybe you are just too tired to cook. Whatever the reason, the need for a back-up is real. That is why I like to stock up my freezer with some extra meals that I can turn to when cooking isn’t an option. Our freezer meals ebook (free when you sign up for or renew your membership to The Scramble during the month of August!) is packed with recipes and tips on how to properly freeze and reheat your meals, but what about preparing them? Despite my love of cooking, I rarely have the time to...

Getting Your Kids to Pack Their Own Lunches: Mistakes I’ve Made and How I’ll be Doing it Differently This Year

My kids go to a school where there is no cafeteria, so we have to pack lunches every. single. day. And while my husband is in charge of school day breakfasts, I still have the task of overseeing school lunches. Last year, when they were in 2nd and 4th grades, I decided that it was time for the boys to start packing their own lunches. There were definitely days when it didn’t go as planned, days when I threw up my hands and just packed the lunches because otherwise the boys never would have left on time, but for much of the year, they successfully pulled their own lunches together every day. And it was awesome. So now that we have done it for a year in my house, I wanted to share the lessons that I have learned and thoughts on what I will do differently this year.How to get your kids to pack their own lunchesBe clear on expectations, then step backBefore the school year started, I shared The Scramble’s lunch packing printable chock full of lunch packing ideas with...

5 Tricks to Make Breakfast a Breeze

We’re a family of breakfast eaters—some out of passion for the meal (my youngest and my husband) and some out of necessity (my eldest and me). For my eldest and me, breakfast is not our favorite meal, but we both fall apart without it so we’ve had to figure out ways to make it work for us. Even on the best of mornings, though, our family rarely has more than 15 minutes to make breakfast happen, so we have come up with a lot of tricks to make it work.5 Tricks to Make Breakfast a Breeze1) Make-aheadOne weekend morning a week, I try to prepare a big batch of a make-ahead breakfast of some sort. My family gets to enjoy the breakfast that morning and we freeze the leftovers for upcoming weekday mornings. These include muffins, breakfast sandwiches, burritos, waffles, pancakes, and frittatas. Did you know that for the past year The Scramble has been sharing a make-ahead breakfast option as part of the weekly meal plan? Plus, if you sign up or renew now, you’ll also...

Why Grocery Lists Matter and How to Make Them Work for You

This summer, our weekends have been packed with fun outings, events, and visits. It has been an absolute joy to connect with friends and family, go on adventures with our kids, and enjoy the warm weather. It has also meant, however, that my usual habit of making our meal plan on Saturdays and going food shopping first thing Sunday mornings hasn’t happened as consistently. While being flexible every once in a while is great, these weeks of getting off my game have reminded me of the importance of our plan and list because I have ended up making more last minute trips to the store for forgotten items and impulse buys—that’s time and money wasted! But let’s be honest, pulling together a grocery list every week can feel like a bit of a chore, so here are some ways to make the process simpler and your grocery shopping faster and more economical.How to Make Your Grocery List Work for You
  1. Keep a running list. As soon as a staple runs out, put it on your list. I keep...

3 Ways to Use Up Vegetables Before They Go Bad

The other day, we went to visit my in-laws. As we were leaving, my mother-in-law gave me baby spinach, red cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, a bunch of zucchini, and two pints of blueberries that she wasn’t going to be able to use up. I was a bit reluctant to take it all since I had just done our weekly shopping and wasn’t sure how I was going to be able use it all. But the idea of it all going to waste was too much for me to handle, so I agreed to take it. Then yesterday, a good friend swung by with a gallon-sized Ziploc full of arugula that she wasn’t going to be able to eat. So suddenly, I was drowning in produce and some of it was on the verge of spoiling! But with a little thought and about an hour of time, I had taken are of much of it. Magic? No. Here are some of my favorite ways to use up produce so that you can enjoy it throughout the week and even throughout the year:3 Ways to Use Up VegetablesPesto: Pesto can be made with many kinds of greens. Basil,...

Spring Cleaning in the Kitchen

Washing windows, scouring floors, thumping out cushions, switching from coats and winter clothes to the warmer weather versions… spring is the time of fresh starts and deep cleanings. As the sun comes out and the temperatures start to rise, we tend to have more energy to make some changes. For me, it is also when I like to do a reset in the kitchen—when I feel the urge to clear out my pantry, fridge, and freezer and to look through my cooking tools and utensils to see what is serving me and what isn’t.Spring Cleaning in the KitchenIf getting a fresh start in your kitchen sounds appealing—whether it’s to make it a place where you want to spend more time, to build up your motivation for some healthier eating, or to get rid of the clutter—then try some of these simple steps to spring cleaning in your kitchen. Each task should take between 30 and 60 minutes to complete, so you can do them all in one afternoon or spread them out over time. Either way, the change will...