By Jen Gosett, BS, CTRS, MATP Staff
Welcome back to our ‘AT in the Kitchen’ series! Last time in Part 3 we went to the grocery store and utilized apps to grab groceries in efficient, supportive, and less stressful ways. This time we are back in the kitchen with loads of fresh ingredients just begging to be chopped, cooked, and/or baked into deliciousness! Eating healthy and using what’s on hand can be difficult for everyone; specifically individuals who have support needs centered around memory, organization, and sometimes motivation. I don’t know if you’re like me, but once I have my fridge stocked, I can feel a little overwhelmed of what to do next with all the fresh ingredients. It can be challenging to remember everything I have and plan out what I can make with it before it goes bad. The Fridge Pal app has been really helpful to me; I can basically create a visual copy of my fridge on my phone so I remember what’s available to use. “You scan items in using the bar codes. Fresh produce can be entered manually. Look up recipes that combine ingredients so you know how to use items about to go bad.” In the app, you can also enter an expiration date for each food item.
- Pro tip: I hate wasting food so I try to organize my refrigerated shelves by keeping in mind what will keep best the longest. The things that will keep for a while (eggs, cheese, hearty veggies like carrots, etc.) go in the back. In the front of the shelves, I put things that have a shorter life (avocados, softer fruit like strawberries, fresh deli meat, etc.) so I’ll remember to use those before they go bad.
Once my fridge is organized, my next step is to prep and start using ingredients. Hard boiled eggs are a favorite of mine; I can eat them on their own with a little salt, put them in salads, pickle them (yes really!), etc. Now, I have a confession to share with you: I am terrible at boiling eggs on the stove. What I do instead is make oven hard boiled eggs using my oven and a muffin tin. Along with getting more evenly cooked & easier to peel eggs, this method feels safer to me as I don’t have to deal with a big, heavy pot of boiling water once the eggs are cooked. Here’s my method for baking hard boiled oven eggs (or as I call them ‘Oven Eggs’):
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place 1 whole, un-cracked egg in each muffin well (no muffin papers needed).
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- When 30 minutes are up, use silicone-tipped tongs to carefully take hot eggs out of the tin and gently place them into a medium-size bowl of ice water (I like using these Oxo bowls with the grippy handles and weighted, textured bottoms).
- Once cooled, you can peel your eggs and put them in your fridge or leave them in their shell (to peel whenever you want to eat one) and place in your fridge (I keep mine in a big plastic sandwich bag so they don’t take up too much room.
I have some recipes that I like to use in my weekly cooking/baking rotation, but I’m regularly searching for new things to try. These days, many people have created their own blogs where they share their own recipes. I’m a repeat user of Pinterest and find that many of the most yummy-sounding/looking recipes on there are from individuals’ food/life blogs; with every amazing cookie recipe, there’s a charming story that goes along with it. Confession #2: sometimes I just want the recipe. Am I the only one who feels this way? 😉 I’ve found a trick to help with this desire/need: when I scroll thru the blog post to get to the recipe, there’s usually a link to “print version of this recipe”. When I click this, I get to see just the recipe; I take a screenshot of the print version of the recipe and then I just have it saved as a picture I can access. Using this trick, you get all of the info you need with less noise and less information to try to sort thru (which can be overwhelming and sometimes a barrier to actually making the dish). I also find it helpful that I can zoom in on the picture of the recipe if the text is too small in the screenshot.
Here’s the link to the No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse that’s pictured as a screenshot in this article (spoiler alert: it’s an amazing dessert!).
What tips or tricks do you have for organizing your fridge/pantry and using ingredients? Share in the comments! (I’d love to know!)