Meal Plan To Save Time and Money

Do you want to save time and money?

Have you ever tried meal planning?

Try these simple steps to get started …

Step 1: Get started with a meal planning calendar

Keep an eye out for new recipes that fit your time frame and your appetite. In the beginning, flexibility may be necessary. Write it down, see what works.
Meal Planner Calendar from Little Housewife

Step 2: Make that shopping list

Keep sales in mind. Working with sales to do your meal planning can save you big time.

Check out your local grocery store online. Many offer online couponing and buying rewards. View ads, clip what you use, and earn rewards in one location!

Shopping for groceries - looking for deals or sales - image from Pixabay.com

Step 3: Prep your food

If your upcoming recipe requires sliced or diced veggies, do the work now and store them for easy access later. Prepping food ahead of time can be your biggest time saver on busy days.
Veggies on cutting board - food preparation - image from Pixabay.com

Step 4: Practice preemptive cooking

Pre­cook components of lunches and dinners for easy access. Store them strategically for on the go meals.

If a recipe can be cooked in advance and frozen, why not? Spending time on prep day by doing some bulk cooking will cut time and energy later. If you have a day of chaos in the cards, it may be the day to pull from your pre­-frozen entree list.

Don’t underestimate the value of doubling batches! Double up now to stock your freezer and use up extra fresh ingredients before they go bad. Double the reason to double batch.

Lunch box - meal prep - image from Pixabay.com

Pave your way to meal planning success with the help of quick recipes

Eat at home tonight : 101 simple busy-family recipes for your slow cooker, sheet pan, Instant Pot®, and more / Tiffany King
Run fast. Cook fast Eat slow : quick-fix recipes for hangry athletes / Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky
Fit men cook : 100+ meal prep recipes for men and women - always #healthyAF, never boring / Kevin Curry
How to feed yourself : 100 fast, cheap, and reliable recipes for cooking when you don't know what you're doing
The Everygirl's guide to cooking / Maria Menounos with Keven Undergaro
The quick six fix : 100 no-fuss, full flavor recipes, 6 ingredients, 6 minutes prep, 6 minutes clean-up / Stuart O'Keeffe with Kathleen Squires
Michael Symon's 5 in 5 for every season : 150 quick dinners, sides, and holiday dishes / Michael Symon with Douglas Trattner
It's all easy : delicious weekday recipes for the super-busy home cook / Gwyneth Paltrow with Thea Baumann
Or check out these books to save time and money
$10 dinners : delicious meals for a family of four that don't break the bank / Julie Grimes
Supermarket healthy : recipes and know-how for eating well without spending a lot / Melissa d'Arabian with Raquel Pelzel ; photographs by Tina Rupp
Good and cheap : eat well on $4/day / Leanne Brown
Affordable paleo cooking with your Instant Pot : quick + clean meals on a budget / Jennifer Robins
No time to visit the library? Explore our eBook collection
Runner's World Meals On The Run 150 Energy-Packed Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less by Joanna Sayago Golub
Williams-Sonoma School Night Dinner Solutions for Every Day of the Week by Kate McMillan
Mastering Meal Prep - Easy Recipes and Time-Saving Tips to Prepare a Week of Delicious Make-Ahead Meals in just One Hour by Pamela Ellgen
New Slow Cooker Magic - Fix it and forget it cookbook set by Phyllis Good
Rookie Cooking: Every Great Cook Has to Start Somewhere by Jim Edwards
Build-A-Bowl : 77 Satisfying & Nutritious Combos: Whole Grain + Vegetable + Protein + Sauce = Meal by Nicki Sizemore
Vegan Yack Attack on the Go! Plant-Based Recipes For Your Fast-Paced Vegan Lifestyle - Quick & Easy, Portable, Make-Ahead, And More by Jackie Sobon
The Taco Tuesday Cookbook : 52 Tasty Taco Recipes To Make Every Week The Best Ever by Laura Fuentes
Web Resources for Meal Planning

10 Family Meal Planning Tips & Ideas on a Budget – Money Crashers

$200/Month Menu Plan for Our Family of 5 – Thrifty Frugal Mom

Meal / Menu Planners – Money Saving Mom

Weeknight Family Meal Plans – My Recipes

Your Four-Week Dinner Plan – Real Simple

Originally posted by Jessica H. on ToledoLibrary.org/blog/meal-plan-to-save-time-and-money

Looking for an Outstanding, Holiday Appetizer? Create a Charcuterie Board!

With today’s busy schedules, we often choose quick and easy appetizers, like trays of supermarket veggies or chips and dip. If you are like me, this type of snack is sufficient, but not really outstanding. Once, in desperation, I ripped open a gift box of cheese and summer sausage, you know, the one with the little jar of mustard. It was consumed by my guests with appreciation, but served without much fanfare.

Recently, I read about a new gourmet appetizer called “charcuterie,” pronounced “shar-koo-tuh-ree.” Thinking about it a little more, I see that charcuterie is processed meat and cheese, with the distinction of being served on a nice wooden board! I encourage you to do a Google search with the keywords, “charcuterie and Toledo” and you will be surprised to see how many restaurants have charcuterie on their menus. Just so you know, a purist would say that an authentic charcuterie board must be prepared with processed pork products, old world meats like dried ham, sausages, terrines, and pâtés, mortadella, speck and many other mystery meats.

It’s all about appearances!

I truly believe that charcuterie is all about putting a creative spin on what goes on a serving board. For the holidays, I intend to take my charcuterie to a new level. Imagine the cheese board as a blank canvas, one to be adorned with a contrasting arrangement of meats, cheeses, spreads and breads. I am the artist who may roll some meat slices, stack the cheeses into stair steps and accent the creation with tidbits of color and texture. My creation will require a few small dipping bowls, or even some hollowed out green peppers, filled with tasty olives, compotes or spreads. Then, I will add some small plates for guests, some craft beers and wine. Perhaps I will realize an impressive, almost gourmet appetizer? I am the artistic director, one who will build a food masterpiece on a piece of wood.

It’s a culinary masterpiece that won’t break your budget

In keeping with frugality and practicality, I think a person should use whatever meats they can afford, things like summer sausage, hard salami, kielbasa or chorizo. Canadian bacon and prosciutto are pricy choices. Friends from east Toledo will steer you to a local market that makes a favorite Hungarian sausage known as kolbász. Another non-traditional charcuterie could include something like smoked turkey, pastrami or smoked salmon. Venison smoked sausage is a nice choice too if you have access to it. Some folks may skip the meat and go Vegan.

Table with fruit, vegetables and appetizers - photo from PXhere

One money saving strategy is to choose discounted cheese, selecting the one in the gourmet section with the marked down Whoo-Hoo sticker on it. Complex and aromatic, aged cheese does not go bad. Cheese is meant to age. So, a sell by label should not bring on its’ demise. Buy the good stuff before the cheese is forced to walk the green mile. Then, to balance the creation with color and taste, a second bargain cheese, like cheddar, is always on sale in the dairy aisle.

wooden board with a variety of cheeses - photo from PXhere

The meat might possibly be the most expensive component. Again, look for what’s on sale. As a small plate meal or appetizer, four people could easily manage less than a pound of meat. Remember that the meat is rich and your guests will also enjoy cheese, bread and possibly dips. Don’t forget, a crusty bread, cracker or “trencher” is an essential structure for holding these goodies. Spinach or artichoke dips and hummus are good choices to fill out the occasion. Some folks have sophisticated skills at a gourmet level, while others appreciate the simplicity of being a novice. “Cook’s Illustrated” has a fantastic article on how to make the Ultimate Cheeseboard. For the novice chef, I recommend the resources below. There’s also a great article in the October 2018 issue of “Food & Wine,” which offers a great Charcuterie Lover’s Pairing Guide. This magazine and article can be accessed via Flipster, which is one of the eMedia subscription services available to Library cardholders.

Practical, Holiday Delights for the Novice Chef

My favorite cookbooks contain a variety of practical, easy-to-prepare dips, spreads, nibbles and bites for holiday entertaining.

Taste of Home Christmas : 465 recipes for a merry holiday!
Martha Stewart's appetizers : 200 recipes for dips, spreads, nibbles, bites, snacks, starters, small plates from the editors of Martha Stewart Living
Bobby Flay fit : 200 recipes for a healthy lifestyle / Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson
Platters and Boards Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion by Shelly Westerhausen
Dips & Spreads : 46 Gorgeous and Good-for-You Recipes by Dawn Yanagihara
Related Toledo Library blog post:

5 Party Ideas for Mixing Drinks

Vegan Holiday Celebrations

Vegans may prefer a separate board where little lettuce leaves become wraps and cucumber discs dip into delectable spreads. I’ve noticed that some charcuterie boards appear to have the addition of fancy accents. Dijon mustard, Kalamata olives, cranberry compote, raspberry jam, tiny dill pickles, and pepperoncini are great choices for savory, sweet or tangy options. Serve a bit of this on your fancy board and suddenly a few simple ingredients have morphed into a gourmet treat!

Vegan Cookbooks

Quick and easy vegan celebrations : over 150 great-tasting recipes plus festive menus for vegantastic holidays and get-togethers all through the year by Alicia C. Simpson
Vegan holiday kitchen : more than 200 delicious, festive recipes for special occasions / Nava Atlas ; photographs by Susan Voisin
Blissful bites : vegan meals that nourish mind, body, and planet / Christy Morgan
Raw, vegan, not gross : all vegan and mostly raw recipes for people who love to eat / Laura Miller ; photography by David Loftus
Vegan Finger Foods : More Than 100 Crowd-Pleasing Recipes for Bite-Size Eats Everyone Will Love by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes
Related Toledo Library blog post:

Celebrating the Holidays Vegan Style

Palatable resources

The Di Lusso Deli Company offers an excellent online guide, Charcuterie Board 101, for selecting, layering and combining flavors in a traditional manner. Cookbooks which feature charcuterie are fascinating. I have respect for those charcutier or “pork butchers” who are passionate about their craft. Do you have a passion to follow step-by-step instructions for making brined, smoked, cured, skewered, braised, rolled, tied, or stuffed meats at home? Our Library has advanced resources for experienced cooks who can delve into making delicious things from scratch, like fresh cheeses, liver pâté and herbed butters.

Advanced charcuterie resources

The new charcuterie cookbook : exceptional cured meats to make and serve at home / Jamie Bissonnette, chef/owner of Toro NYC, Coppa and Toro Boston, winner of the James Beard Best Chef: Northeast award
From scratch : an introduction to French breads, cheeses, preserves, pickles, charcuterie, condiments, yogurts, sweets, and more / Laurence Laurendon, Gilles Laurendon, Catherine Quevremont, Cathy Ytak
Charcuterie : the craft of salting, smoking, and curing / Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
In the charcuterie : the Fatted Calf's guide to making sausage, salumi, pates, roasts, confits, and other meaty goods / Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller
Essential Pepin : more than 700 all-time favorites from my life in food / Jacques Pépin

Creating new holiday traditions

Share your charcuterie as a new holiday tradition with your children. Teach kids how to arrange cheeses in Domino layers or show the kids how to stack veggies and fruits on bamboo skewers. Teach the little ones simple kitchen basics. Layering, arranging and stacking food pieces are skills which are ideally suited for little hands. The Library resources listed below all have at least one great dip or finger food for kids to create.

Tidbits for Kids

Look I'm a Cook by DK Publishing
Barbara Beery's pink princess party cookbook
The Children's Jewish Holiday Kitchen 70 Fun Recipes for You and Your Kids, from the Author of Jewish Cooking in America by Joan Nathan
Eat fresh food : awesome recipes for teen chefs / Rozanne Gold and her all-star team
Betty Crocker Kids Cook
Related Toledo Library blog post:

Kids in the Kitchen

Treasure the moment

This holiday season, I’ll treasure my time with family in the kitchen. I am hoping that our collaborative charcuterie board will become a tempting showpiece, served with pride and artistic satisfaction. Even if my holiday appetizers don’t meet all expectations, I am going to sell it as if I just beat Bobby Flay! A little enthusiasm goes a long way. Remember, it’s all about appearances.

Holiday food traditions and other inspirational stories

Apron anxiety : my messy affairs in and out of the kitchen / Alyssa Shelasky
Wreck the halls : cake wrecks gets "festive" by Jen Yates
Christmas Days : 12 stories and 12 feasts for 12 days / Jeanette Winterson
Festivus The Holiday for the Rest of Us by Allen Salkin, forward by Jerry Stiller
Food : a love story / Jim Gaffigan
Related Toledo Library blog post:

November Thankful Reads


Originally posted by Clare T. on ToledoLibrary.org/blog/looking-for-an-outstanding-holiday-appetizer-create-a-charcuterie-board

Celebrating Our Creativity Lab’s One Year Anniversary

A Year of Interactive Learning Experiences

Since it opened last February, countless children have played games, peered through microscopes, learned to code and discovered the joys of healthy eating — and it’s all happened in our Main Library’s Creativity Lab: The Susan M. Savage Family Place.

On Saturday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m., we hope you will join us in celebration of the Creativity Lab’s first anniversary. With tasty treats and high-tech party games, this is an opportunity for visitors to take part in their favorite activities and for first-timers to explore an incredible world of learning.

Creativity Lab


Firing Children’s Imagination. Inspiring Children’s Creativity.

Even before they enter the Creativity Lab, children encounter an exciting wall of activity. On the wall outside, there are places to spin wheels, turn handles, and manipulate objects, with a wealth of teachable moments along the way. Once inside, the opportunities for learning expand exponentially. Between board games, microscopes, arts and crafts, iPads, and more, children, as well as teens and adults are certain to find something that inspires their creativity and natural curiosity.

With over 2,500 square feet of space, the Creativity Lab offers a wide range of activities, including:

  • A “makerspace” for making crafts, reassembling mechanical and digital devices, or even writing simple code
  • Movable seating and tables for hands-on workshops and classes
  • A demonstration kitchen to learn about healthy cooking, scientific experimentation, math play and other activities
  • A production space equipped with tools, including a die cutting machine and paper cutter, that will enable teachers, parents and older students to prepare study aids and more
Creativity Lab interactive wall
Creativity Lab kitchen

Fun and Educational Opportunities, Year-Round

The Creativity Lab: The Susan M. Savage Family Place was made possible through the generosity of Robert and Susan Savage, and their commitment to children’s learning is evident throughout the entire space. We’re so thankful and proud to house this space, and hope that you will come back again and again to visit the Creativity Lab during normal Library hours and for all of our fun and free events and activities there.

For more information about what’s happening at the Creativity Lab — and all the kid-friendly activities at your Library — just check out our online calendar!

Creativity Lab programs

Originally posted by Toledo Lucas County Public Library blogger Heather. H at ToledoLibrary.org/blog/celebrating-our-creativity-labs-one-year-anniversary.

Cooking Programs at the Library!

In this edition of our ongoing “At the Library” blog series, we’re excited to share a number of cooking-related programs we have planned this winter / early spring. From a cooking club that meets at our Waterville Branch to programs for kids, we’re bringing food to the forefront of our Library.  

Library Cooking Programs: January-April 2018

Family Programs

Campfire Cooking:
Spice up your world with campfire cooking. Discover different recipes, tools and techniques for delicious trail cooking. You will actually get to sample some food at this program!

Apr. 4 | 4 p.m. | Holland Branch

Adult Programs

Cooking for 1 or 2:
A cooking demonstration offering heart-healthy options as well as shopping tips and tricks for prepping smaller portions.

Jan. 23 | 6:30 p.m. | Sanger Branch
Feb. 2 | 10 a.m. | Holland Branch
Mar. 6 | 6 p.m. | Lagrange Branch
Mar. 14 | 6 p.m. | West Toledo Branch
Mar. 26 | 3 p.m. | Toledo Heights Branch

A Pinch of This…A Dash of That Cooking Club:
Pick a dish, make it, and bring it with you to the meeting! It’s that easy! Enjoy a variety of dishes, as we discuss how we made them. Cookbooks will be available one month prior to each meeting.

Jan. 10, Mar. 7, May 16 | 7 p.m.| Waterville Branch

Season Slow-Cooker Meals:
Get the slow-cooker out to make easy and tasty meals. Join OSU Extension Educator for food safety and cooking tips. You’ll make the most of your slow-cooker meals.

Feb. 20 | 3 p.m. | Toledo Heights
Mar. 14 | 6:30 p.m. | Washington Branch
Apr. 10 | 6:30 p.m. | Point Place Branch

Teen Programs

Taster’s Choice:
Join us monthly to express your unique taste as you infuse customized after school snacks with your personal zest.

Jan. 9 | 4 p.m. | Oregon Branch
Mar. 20 | 4 p.m. | Oregon Branch
Apr. 26 | 4 p.m. | Lagrange Branch

What’s Cooking:
Want to know what’s cooking? Visit Oregon Branch to find out. We’ll explore cooking basics, as well as practical tips for purchasing and preparing great food.

Feb 24 | 2:30 p.m. | Oregon Branch
Apr. 28 | 2:30 p.m. | Oregon Branch

Children Programs

Snack Hacks:
Dive into an after school snack that will get your taste buds tingling. Hannah Halfhill from Toledo GROWs will show you some simple, quick snacks for you to make at home. Taste-testers needed!

Jan 23 | 6:30 p.m. | Oregon Branch
Mar. 13 | 4 p.m. | Heatherdowns Branch
Apr. 12 | 4 p.m. | Kent Branch
Apr. 14 | 2 p.m. | Holland Branch
Apr. 16 | 5:45 p.m. | South Branch

Tasty Treats:
Healthy snacks can also taste good! Join us as we make apple rings.

Feb. 21 | 4 p.m. | Lagrange Branch

Originally posted at http://www.toledolibrary.org/blog/get-cooking-at-the-library by Toledo Lucas County Public Library blogger Heather H.