Tips for making cooking at home easier

Courtney Parrott
Special to the Bulletin
Courtney Parrott

Cooking a meal for a loved one can be a fun way to celebrate a holiday – however, cooking for just two people on a daily basis can be tricky.

Cooking a whole meal for two can feel like a lot of work with small reward. Eating out may seem like the easier choice. However, cooking meals at home is often healthier and more budget friendly.

Here are some tips to make cooking for two (or one) easier:

Plan ahead

Creating a menu for the week can help you avoid relying on less nutritious convenience food or take-out.

When planning meals, think creatively about how to use foods that spoil quickly. For produce, you could plan on adding extra veggies to a sandwich or add fruit to your morning cereal. For meat, you can prepare several servings at one time and then use it in different meals throughout the week. For instance, on Saturday you could cook the chicken, then use it for three different meals, like a salad, soup, and rice dish.

Reduce servings

If your favorite recipes make a lot of servings, you can half the recipe by dividing the ingredients by two, thereby making half the amount of servings. For instance, if the recipe calls for four chicken breasts, only use two.

Use the freezer

For recipes that make a lot of servings, freeze half for later. You can reheat the frozen portion on a busy night for a quick, easy meal.

You can also use the freezer to extend the shelf-life of several foods/ingredients.

Meat only stays fresh for a few days in the fridge. To help extend the shelf-life, split it into individual portion sizes and store it in air-tight containers in the freezer.

Purchasing frozen fruit and vegetables are a great option if you find that fresh fruits and vegetables often spoil before you can eat them. You can also freeze most fresh fruits and vegetables in air-tight containers.

The freezer can be used to store grains as well! If it takes you a while to finish a loaf of bread, put it in the freezer to prevent it from becoming stale or moldy. To cut down on cooking time, cook a batch of rice, then freeze it in individual air-tight containers. When you need a single serving of rice, simply reheat it in the microwave.

Meal planning will get easier as you learn and collect recipes that work well for serving 1-2 people or that make good leftovers. Appreciate your hard work by taking time to relax and enjoy the meal you’ve created!

Food manager certification course

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will offer a Professional Food Manager Certification training course.

Statistics indicate that foodborne illness continues to be a health issue in the United States. Each year, 1 in 6 Americans will become sick, 128,000 will become hospitalized, and 3,000 will die due to a foodborne illness.

If under the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) jurisdiction, each food establishment is required to have one certified food manager on site.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Brown County, is offering a professional food manager certification training course. This program will be offered for $125 on March 24th and 25th, in Brownwood. Cost includes training, materials, and a national food manager certification examination. The food manager’s certification will be valid for five years. Please contact Courtney Parrott at the Extension Office, 325-646-0386 for more information, location of class and to register. Registration deadline is March 10, 2021. Due to Covid-19 and social distancing requirments class is limited to 10 students.

This program is designed to not only prepare foodservice managers to pass the certification  examination; it will provide valuable education regarding the safe handling of food. Almost 50 cents of every dollar Americans spend on food is spent on meals prepared away from home. Therefore, careful attention to food safety will help keep customers safe and satisfied.

Foodborne illnesses are estimated to cost thousands of dollars in lost wages, insurance, and medical bills. With these statistics, knowledge of how to prevent foodborne illness is essential.