Hot Days, Cool Cook

For the past week, daytime highs had hovered around 100. While that may be a normal summer temperature for some parts of the country, here in Colorado, at an elevation of 7,100 feet, it’s anything but. (I’m glad we don’t live lower and hotter!) Even with our cool nights and ample insulation, the house was getting pretty warm by late afternoon. At that point, the absolute last thing I wanted to do was cook dinner.

I managed to avoid turning on the stove or oven for several days in a row. However, by the end of the week, salads were getting a bit redundant. What else could I do? Sure, there are other uncooked dishes, such as sandwiches and cold cereal, but I wanted ideas for more traditional dinner fare.

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Making Soup

Happy New Year!! If you’ve made some New Year’s resolutions, at least one probably involves healthier food or healthier finances. Today’s blog will help you with both.

For years, soup was the refuge of thrifty cooks. There’s a reason places that offer free meals are called “soup kitchens.” With a tiny bit of effort, you can make a great-tasting new meal from leftovers, and it costs practically nothing.

I was at the market the other day, helping my elderly dad pick out some easy meals he can just heat and eat, and we ended up at the soup aisle. I guess I hadn’t looked at pre-made soups in a while. The prices were exorbitant. Why should a can of soup—not even condensed—cost $3.00? The ingredients are probably worth more like a quarter.

You do not need to buy canned or packaged soups. You can make your own. You don’t even need a recipe. It’s that easy.

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Company Meals

The phone rings about three o’clock on a busy afternoon. Pete wants to bring someone home for dinner. Is it all right with me? With a hurried look at my to-do list, and a quick prayer for help, I agree. He hangs up happy, and I start wracking my brain. I’m suddenly feeding someone I’ve never met before. What should I serve?

This is actually a pretty common scenario at our house. Pete collaborates with ministries all over the world, and he frequently invites out-of-town visitors for a home-cooked meal. As hostess, I want to make these guests feel welcome, while filling them with good food. With years of practice, I’ve learned some helpful tips, which I now pass on to you.

For the most part, you can serve your company the same food you’d normally eat. It is their part to be gracious and thankful for whatever you offer. Don’t feel pressured into putting on a special feast, or spending a lot on expensive ingredients. Not everyone is a gourmet chef.

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Cheap Eats: Marketing tips

You want to eat like a king, but your budget is more on the peon level. What to do? Don’t despair. Help is on the way.

How you do your marketing can impact how much you spend on food, as well as how healthy your meals are. Now that you are learning to cook, you can skip those frozen dinners, boxes of mixes, and the tasty-but-expensive pre-made meals in the deli. Instead, look for staples that can be used in a number of different ways.

I have a number of ingredients that I keep on hand at all times. Granted, I live quite a distance from the nearest market, plus I have plenty of storage, which makes it more convenient for me to store stables, compared to someone with a closet-sized kitchen and ready access to groceries. But there are some basic foods that most cooks use often enough to stock. You can see my list on my Mom’s Pantry page. Yours will be different, of course. This is just a starting place.

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