We switched up our normal format and are sharing our 4 tips to keep you eating nutritious, delicious, affordable food no matter what your situation during the Corona Virus crisis. Here are our practical, panic free tips:
- If you’re at home with kids, try making fun recipes that they can make with you, involve them in the process, and try themed meals around their favorite characters!
- If you know someone in quarantine that needs food, try bringing them freezer meals that they can make as needed.
- If you want to limit your social contact through shopping less, try stocking your freezer, most meat lasts 6 months, and try defrosting it in cold water.
- Finally, if you’re wanting to want to save some money while still eat great, look for recipes that use ground beef, pork shoulder, or pork chops, and use whole turkeys and whole chickens that are affordable and yield multiple meals from one item.
We have lots more information below the online player, so keep scrolling for info, or listen to the episode using the player below or click on a link to listen to the episode in your favorite podcast player
tip 1 – recipes you can make with kids
If your kids are at home due to a school cancellation, you can bet they’re going to want to eat, and they’re going to want to do activities. Cooking with them can take care of both of these needs! Here are a few ideas on how you can involve them in making a meal that will involve them in the process.
- Do it yourself pizzas are a great recipe to make with kids. They can add all their favorite toppings and enjoy the fruits of the labor. Try our tortilla pizza recipe if you want a super easy way to make personal sized pizzas. Looking for more ideas? Check out Taste of Home’s list of 30 Easy Recipes Your Kids Can Make All By Themselves.
- Involving your kids in the cooking process will let them be a part of the process, keep them occupied, and help them gain an appreciation for food. Here are some tasks that you can safely delegate to kids:
- 3-4 year old kids can help set the table, sort silverware as it comes out of the dishwasher, pick leaves off fresh herbs, and stir or mash veggies.
- 5 – 7 year old kids can help start dicing potatoes (with a kid safe knife), peeling potatoes, measuring ingredients, and decorating baked goods.
- 8 – 10 year old kids can use can openers, rinse dishes, load the dishwasher, skewer kabobs, make sandwiches, chop most foods, and plenty of other tasks.
- Once your kids hit 11, they should be able to do most tasks safely, as long as they are supervised, and have a base level of skill and understanding. Everyone’s children are different though, so make sure you adapt these basic guidelines to your specific situation.
- Finally, try making a movie themed dinner party for kids! Here are a few ideas:
- If your child loves Moana, try a Hawaiian / Polynesian themed Luau with pork, coconut dishes, and much more!
- Learn a bit about classic French cuisine, and make this kid friendly ratatouille recipe while watching Ratatouille.
- Is there a more iconic movie scene than the Spaghetti and Meatball kiss from Lady and the Tramp? Put on the movie and enjoy spaghetti and meatballs with the family.
- Tiana makes a delicious looking gumbo in The Princess and the Frog. You can make your own version at home – it’s filling, delicious, and easy to make with kids.
We’re sure you can come up with more ideas, but these tips should get you started!
tip 2 – freezer meals for quarantined friends & family
If you have a friend or family member that’s in self-quarantine, they’ll need to eat. Freezer meals are a great way to provide wholesome, home cooked meal to them while limiting your exposure to any germs they may have. Just drop the dish on their door step, and let them cook at their convenience. Freezer meals are also great for new moms, and the homebound in general. Bridget is a pro at freezer meals, and here are her tips:
- Mexican food makes great freezer meals! Think enchiladas – one of the all time freezer meals, or shredded fajita meat and vegetables frozen together, ready to heat back up and make fajitas.
- Try using disposable aluminum pans instead of pyrex baking pans for freezer meals. Easier cleanup, and when you give the meal away, the recipient doesn’t need to worry about returning the dish.
- Soups and chilis freeze perfectly, and are easy to batch make. Put them in plastic containers to freezer, defrost, and reuse.
- Casseroles are great in the freezer, especially noodle casseroles. Nick loves a casserole of beef tips, cream of mushroom soup, sour cream, and egg noodles – stroganoff casserole, yum!
- Make a bunch of ground beef, then freeze it in small bags. You can defrost it and use for meals like sloppy joes, tacos, and spaghetti.
- Finally, cook whole chickens, shred the meat, and freeze in small bags like you would ground beef. This can be defrosted and used for salads and other dishes as you need it.
Here are a few places you can find some really tasty freezer meal recipes:
- The Pioneer Woman has great tips on what freezes well, how to freeze items, and recipes.
- Taste of Home has an excellent list of 150 Freezer Meal Recipes.
- If you’re interested in cooking healthy, Cooking Light has a list of 33 Healthy Freezer-Friendly Meals to Win Weeknights.
- BBC’s Good Food website has a list of the Best Freezable Family Meals.
break time! video of a baby playing a balloon
Bridget recommends balloons as a fun way to keep kids occupied with the simplest of toys. Watch this video and laught!
tip 3 – stock your freezer & defrost your food safely
Lake Geneva Country Meats has plenty of frozen meats, and we often have people buy whole, half, or quarter animals to stock their freezers. Even if you don’t want to get a whole animal’s worth of meat, you can stock up on all of the frozen beef, pork, chicken, sausage, seafood, and more in our freezer section. Here are some guidelines on how long meat is good for in your freezer:
- Beef: 6 – 12 months
- Pork: 4 – 6 months
- Sausage: 2 – 4 months
- Chicken: 4 – 6 months
- Seafood: 6 months for leaner fish like cod, and 3 months for fattier fish like tuna or salmon
To extend the shelf life of your frozen foods, keep your freezer at or below 0ºF, and keep it packed tightly to insulate the meat. When the time comes to defrost your items, here is what the USDA has to say about defrosting food:
Planning ahead is the key to this method because of the lengthy time involved. A large frozen item like a turkey requires at least a day (24 hours) for every 5 pounds of weight. Even small amounts of frozen food — such as a pound of ground meat or boneless chicken breasts — require a full day to thaw. When thawing foods in the refrigerator, there are variables to take into account.
- Some areas of the appliance may keep food colder than other areas.
- Food will take longer to thaw in a refrigerator set at 35 °F than one set at 40 °F.
After thawing in the refrigerator, items such as ground meat, stew meat, poultry, seafood, should remain safe and good quality for an additional day or two before cooking; red meat cuts (such as beef, pork or lamb roasts, chops and steaks) 3 to 5 days. Food thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking, although there may be some loss of quality.
Cold Water Thawing
This method is faster than refrigerator thawing but requires more attention. The food must be in a leak-proof package or plastic bag. If the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surrounding environment could be introduced into the food. Also, the meat tissue may absorb water, resulting in a watery product.
The bag should be submerged in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes so it continues to thaw. Small packages of meat, poultry or seafood — about a pound — may thaw in an hour or less. A 3-to 4-pound package may take 2 to 3 hours. For whole turkeys, estimate about 30 minutes per pound. If thawed completely, the food must be cooked immediately.
Foods thawed by the cold water method should be cooked before refreezing.
When thawing food in a microwave, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during the thawing process (bringing the food to “Danger Zone” temperatures). Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present wouldn’t have been destroyed and, indeed, the food may have reached optimal temperatures for bacteria to grow.
After thawing in the microwave, always cook immediately after, whether microwave cooking, by conventional oven, or grilling.
Foods thawed in the microwave should be cooked before refreezing.
Also, never thaw foods in a garage, basement, car, dishwasher or plastic garbage bag; out on the kitchen counter, outdoors or on the porch. These methods can leave your foods unsafe to eat.
Cooking Without Thawing
When there is not enough time to thaw frozen foods, or you’re simply in a hurry, just remember: it is safe to cook foods from the frozen state. The cooking will take approximately 50% longer than the recommended time for fully thawed or fresh meat and poultry.
tip 4 – look for affordable cuts of meat
Time for our last tip – and this is a pretty common sense tip. If you’re losing income due to the corona virus, but still want to eat flavorful, quality food, you can look for affordable cuts of meat! Here are some of the most cost effective cuts you can use for your cooking:
- Ground Beef – ground beef is one of the best cuts you can use when cooking on a budget. A little bit goes a long way when mixed with beans or rice, and can make many different recipes. Click here to check out all of our ground beef recipes.
- Round Roasts – round roasts are the least tender, but most affordable beef roasts. They are great for old fashioned Sunday roast beefs that will easily feed a crowd. Check out our recipe for a Slow Cooker Burgundy Rump Roast for a crowd pleasing, and affordable recipe.
- Flat Iron Steaks – sometimes you just want a grilled steak! Flat Iron steaks are affordable, tender, and flavorful. They’re great on the grill, and one steak can feed multiple people. Check out our Steakhouse Flat Iron Steak recipe for inspiration.
- Pork Chops – pork chops are very affordable, great on the grill, and can be made into many different types of recipes! Click here to see all of our pork chop recipes.
- Pork Shoulder Roasts – whether you like BBQ Pulled Pork or Carnitas Tacos, pork shoulder roasts are a slow cooker friendly and affordable cut of pork that will yield many servings of delicious meals.
- Whole Chickens – whole chickens are delicious meals. Try this Herbes de Provence Roasted Chicken recipe that uses a spatchcocking technique to make cooking and carving easy.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs – boneless skinless chicken thighs are certified lean, very affordable, and can be cooked in a variety of different ways from grilling to the slow cooker. Click here to see all of our chicken thigh recipes.
- Whole Turkeys aren’t just for Thanksgiving. They’re available frozen at low prices year round!
Finally, we always recommend looking for items like whole chickens and turkeys that can be multiple meals. From a whole turkey, you’ll get a hot dinner, cold sandwiches, leftovers for casseroles, and a carcass to make flavorful soup stock.
Here’s a list of products we recommended on this week’s episode:
- The Floor is Lava – a fun game to play with kids while you’re stuck at home.
- Tovla & Co. Kid Friendly Knives – Bridget has tried multiple times to cut herself with these, and she hasn’t managed yet. Great for kids!
- Freshware Meal Prep Containers – these are a great product to meal prep / prep freezer meals.
*Note, we may get a small commission if you use the links to purchase items.
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