During these hot summer days, it’s sometimes a challenge to find ways to prepare a quick nutritious meal without heating up the kitchen. Planning your main meal for the week will help not only save you time, it will save money by purchasing everything you need for a week at a time without needing to stop at the grocery to pick up one or two items. Another way to save time is to use the appliances to help with the cooking process. Here are a few ideas you might like to try:
- Microwaving foods to pre-cook them is a great way to save time on the grill. Use a lower power setting (30-50%) to cook meats without getting it tough around the edges. If you are using marinades, refrigerate during the marinade time and then apply the glaze on the grill during the last part of the cooking time. Marinades help to tenderize less tender cuts of meat and thus can save money on the grocery bill. Using the microwave is a great way to speed up the cooking time of chicken breasts, pork chops, or ribs before placing them on the grill.
- Steam vegetables in the microwave by using a small amount of water and a tight covering like plastic wrap (with a corner turned back to allow some steam to escape) or a tight fitting lid. Apply your favorite seasonings after steaming for the best flavor. Vegetables can be cooked on high or full power in the microwave, and a great way to cook just enough for one or two servings.
- Try preparing your meat or main dish in a pressure cooker, if you have one. A thawed roast can be cooked fork tender in 20-30 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. While this appliance is used on the range top, it still is more energy efficient that turning on the oven. Many of your favorite beef or pork roasts, whole chicken or turkey breast can be prepared quickly, and used as the main ingredient for several different recipes during the week.
- The grill is no doubt the family favorite for summertime cooking. Who can resist the flavor it gives your favorite meat? As you are cooking outside, don’t forget to try not only vegetables on the grill, but fruits as well. Pineapple, peaches and pears are all delicious when prepared with heat that caramelizes the sugar naturally found in the fruit.
- Last but not least, don’t forget the crockpot. This appliance is a wonderful way to prepare a main dish but is sometimes forgotten during the summertime weather. The crockpot can precook meats so the cooking time on the grill is shortened and make the meat is more tender so the grill can just put the finishing flavor touches on it.
Whatever way you choose to prepare your favorite summer meal, don’t forget to use your timesaving appliances to stretch not only your time and money, but to give your family quick healthy summer meals.
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.