fridge, freezer and pantry apps

How many times have you gone to the grocery store, made your purchases and returned home only to find you already had one (or more than one!!) of those items already in your fridge, freezer or pantry?

Or stored leftovers from a meal in the freezer only to forget you had them there in the first place… until many months later when they are covered in the freezer fuzz?

I’ve been there way too many times myself and a conversation with a friend today prompted me to search for apps that can help with that.

Here are a few free apps I found that let you track what is in your fridge, freezer or pantry. I’ve included my comments on the apps as well.

Pantry Check


I like how this one has pictures to go along with the items and enables you to add your own products with pictures too. Especially key when storing leftovers. 

However, it doesn’t allow you to categorize where the item is stored: fridge, freezer or pantry.

 

Fridge Pal 


This app does allow you to categorize your items based on where they are stored. Since I have more than one fridge and freezer, this is extremely helpful. I also like that it allows you to record the price so when you are comparison shopping, it can help you save money.

If you are a visual person, however, this one does not have pictures of your items.
 

Cloud Freezer


This appears to be the more sophisticated of the three. While you can’t snapshot your items, you can take a picture of your receipt and it will list out the items for you. Then you simply indicate where it’s going to be stored along with the expiration date and other info you want to add. It includes a video tutorial on how to do this. 

If you like to comparison shop, it has a notes section for you to do that.

While the free version doesn’t allow you to indicate where things are stored if you have more than one fridge or freezer, there are two upgrade options you can purchase for $5 or less which would allow you to do this and it increases the number of items that can be stored on your lists.

One last thing…the free version only allows you to have 15 items per list, so unless you don’t eat very much, you will want the upgrades.

So tell me… have you tried any of these apps before? Are there any I should consider including on this list? Which one do you think you would try?

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saving time // grocery shopping tip

One simple step I’ve been trying to take lately is to bag the items I buy at the grocery store according to where I need to store it when I get home. Since cloth bags are *the thing* these days, it makes it so much easier.

bags labelledI’ve found this saves me time when I’m unpacking and shelving and storing everything when I get home. With four kids and many things on the go, every minute saved on routine tasks is a huge blessing.

How about you? Do you pack your own groceries at the store? Do you have a time-saving method for getting everything stored away. Please share!

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project pare, where I’ve been, where I’m headed

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Yes I’ve been a little MIA here. Summertime, and a season to adjust to all kids in school and a new job for my husband and well, the days quickly add up to months which usher in a new year.

Not that I will rehash the last six months in detail, but generally, I’ve been doing much thinking and praying about this site and where God would use me and the time He’s provided. So in addition to dusting off these pages, I’m also inching toward the goal of applying my life coaching certificate to helping people reach their healthy eating, fitness and financial goals. That’s where I’ve been and where I’m *hopefully* headed, in a nutshell.

Now onto Project Pare.

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I’ve continued to work at streamlining my meal planning and shopping list creation approach. Though I haven’t exactly scrapped this idea, neither have I used it, because I ran out of enthusiasm while waiting to find a cheap, eco-friendly solution to apply it weekly. The inner perfectionist in me rears it’s ugly head once again.

So I opted for a low-tech approach by handwriting my menu and shopping list weekly on scraps of paper. Sometimes low tech just works better. It’s certainly helped me improve on ensuring all the items needed for the week make it onto the grocery week, but I still think I can improve on reducing the time I spend on this task.

Here’s my goal: Take just a few hours one day a month to create a monthly meal plan complete with weekly grocery shopping lists.

So how about you…do you plan out your meals? How far in advance? Do you prefer pen & paper to plan or do you use technology? If you’re a techie meal planner, what apps or websites do you like best?

If you don’t plan meals currently, would you invest in some coaching if you knew it would save you time and money in the long run?

And…share 🙂

 

 

 

 

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timely lessons

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banana bread bites (I have yet to post this recipe, but here’s the bar version of this recipe)

It takes courage to move forward.

That courage fails me more than it finds me of late…it’s much easier to talk myself out of writing a post than to it is to begin one.

The excuses are numerous…

  • The kids are home for summer vacation
  • There’s not enough time to write and finesse a post
  • I have an idea for post but do not have immediate access to the technology to write said post
  • There’s swim lessons, baseball practice, errands, exercising and choreschoreschores

But what’s really at the root of it all is a fear that I will pour myself out for nothing. That investing all.this.time. that competes for so many worthy things is really just a waste of time because it will lead nowhere. I fear sacrificing time with my family, time with others, time on tasks that must be done for something that I’ll look back on years down the road and regret having ever started. I fear wasting time.

And so a month slips by.

And yet…

And yet, I must write. To do otherwise would be burying the very thing I know my Lord entrusted to me.

With this post, I bravely step out of the boat, and trust Him with the very thing I fear.

That’s not the only lesson learned in this month of silence:

1. “Hiring” my children as prep cooks saves me time. I often hesitate to involve them because it takes time to explain and oversee and deal with meltdowns, complaints and extra messes which are reality of kids in the kitchen. Then, on a day when I was preparing a soup recipe that usually takes 30 minutes of prep work, I assigned each of them a task and, praise the Lord, reduced the amount of time it took me to make the soup. Bonus: We were spending time together instead of apart and they were learning.

100_28002. It’s hard to save time and money at the same time. One of the tasks pulling me away from writing is trying to be better about budgeting, monitoring our spending and trying to save money on groceries. It’s taking a lot of time to learn new habits, put new systems in place and then keep up with some of these money saving activities. I’m hoping to share what I’m learning in future posts as part of the Project: Pare series.

foodpantrylist

3. It’s hard to find coffee pots in hotel rooms. When we went on vacation last month, I had hoped experiment with using the expected in-room coffee pot to make my breakfast. Only one out of the five hotels we stayed in had a traditional coffee pot. So for the remaining four hotels I had to draw on a lesson previously learned from completely changing the way I eat and experiment with a different way of preparing breakfast. In the process I discovered that soaked buckwheat and millet (my breakfast of choice) has a pleasant crunch.

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eating my breakfast of choice on the roadnb k
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project pare: creating a pantry list

I like organize and streamline and simplify. As I shared yesterday, because life is complicated, especially with having four growing children, I look for areas in our lives where we can cut back here so we can spend more there.

However, I’m learning that sometimes simplifying is not so simple, especially when it comes to planning meals.

I thought it would be fun to capture this journey in real time, to share with you my challenges in pruning our grocery expenses and paring back the time I spend thinking about what our family will eat.

And what would a challenge be without a name? I’ll call this series: Project Pare.

Project Pare: Creating a Pantry List

Meal planning, preparation and shopping consume much of my time, so it’s one of the biggest areas where I’m most interested in streamlining. I spent 30 minutes the other evening just looking for the best meal planning strategies and have spent countless more minutes (hours?) thinking about it. I find it ironic that the very area where I’m trying to save time is actually costing me more time.

However, I’m trusting that I will reap the benefits come fall when our busy back-to-school schedule picks up again.

One of the tips I gleaned from Pinterest comes from The Resourceful Gals. I liked their idea of creating a pantry list to help formulate a shopping list. Ultimately, I forget at least one thing at least one time each week. If it’s an essential ingredient, then I head back to the store to pick it up – costing me more time and money.

Thankfully, I had already started a list of sorts for another project so this saved me some time and I can re-use it for other ideas I have for tracking food expenses.

Below are a picture of my list and a PDF so you can copy and paste the text if you’d like to use it to start your own pantry list – modifying it, of course, for your pantry. See below the picture for some notes on this list.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW, PRINT OR COPY A PDF of the pantry list

foodpantrylist

  • I used Word to create the list, setting the margins @ .2″, five columns and using a small typeface.
  • For a plant-based food website, you might be surprised to see meat & dairy on my list. However, my family is a hybrid of a plant-based eater (me) and occasional meat & dairy eaters (my husband and children). While I would love for all of us to eat the same way, that’s not the way it’s worked out and I need to honor that.
  • Items with an asterisk indicates items I choose to buy organically most of the time. If you have specific questions about my other abbreviations, just leave a comment.
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whole grain pizza dough (reduced gluten)

pizza dough

When my children were little, we discovered this book at the library. It included a recipe for pizza dough in the back and we decided to give it a try.

Friday pizza nights with the “Pizza for Everyone” crust quickly became a family tradition, one that was often accompanied by a movie. Though we don’t strictly adhere to this tradition all the time, I usually plan for pizza night once a week (and make a few extra personal pizzas to tuck into school lunches).

I’ve adapted the original recipe to include whole grains and reduce the gluten content. I’m also sharing a second version of the dough strictly as a printable PDF. This second version uses a 2:1:1 ratio of unbleached, all-purpose white flour to whole wheat pastry flour to brown rice flour because it’s hard to sell my husband and children on the crust I prefer to eat.

A single batch of this dough yields two 9-inch pizzas and I can get a double batch of the dough to make one large thin crust pizza on a cookie sheet, plus 3-4 small personal pizzas. The dough also freezes well, so when I make my version of the crust, I split it in half, popping half of it in the freezer and turning the other half into dinner.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the reduced gluten + whole grain pizza dough recipe

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the refined + whole grain flour pizza dough recipe

 reduced gluten whole grain pizza dough

Prep Time: 75-105 minutes (includes rise time)

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

 

Ingredients

  • 1 7g. package dry, active yeast
  • Drizzle of sweetener of your choice
  • ¾ c. warm water (105-110 degrees F)
  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c. brown rice flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/8 c. olive or avocado oil

Instructions

Gently stir yeast and sweetener in a bowl with the warm water until combined.

Let the mixture stand until bubbles begin to form (a.k.a proofing the yeast). This takes about five minutes.

Stir in olive oil, then mix in flour and salt.

Knead 3-5 minutes until dough is smooth and pliable.

Form into a ball in the bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm spot for 60-90 minutes.

On a lightly oiled pan, press dough into desired size and shape, then pre-bake in a 350 degree F oven for 5 minutes to set the top of the crust.

Add desired toppings and cook an additional 15-20 minutes.

Recipe Notes

The right water temperature for the water is key to a good dough…too cold and the yeast takes a long time to work, too hot and you kill it completely. If this is your first time working with yeast, you might want to try using a thermometer to get the right water temp.

Avocado oil is a better choice for foods cooked at medium-high temperatures like pizza because it can withstand high heat.

If you are saving some of the dough for future use, wrap it in a couple of plastic bags and store it in the freezer. You can do this before or after pre-baking it, but I found freezing it in raw dough form to better.

Feel free to experiment with your own combination of flours, though texture and results may vary.

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toasting nuts

toasting nuts

I’ve burned many a thing in the kitchen either due to impatience or lack of attention…including my fingers.

And sometimes I forget to account for minor, yet important, details in recipes. Like roasted nuts.

Roasting brings out their flavor, adding new dimension to a recipe which is why it’s  a good idea to use roasted nuts when a recipe calls for them. To save time, you could buy pre-roasted nuts, but it often costs more to do so and it can be hard to find certain roasted nuts which are free of added salt and oil. Sooo…that leaves roasting them yourself.

Traditionally, nuts are roasted in the oven. When I’ve used this method, I found that it either took too long (and I was impatient because I forgot I needed to toast them in the first place) or I forgot about them and they burned.

Clearly, a new method was in order.

Ever since I started using the stove top to toast nuts, I’ve been pleased with the results. It’s quick and I’m less apt to forget about something that I can see. The following method is one I’ve used for almonds, pecans and walnuts and it takes less than five minutes. If you try other nuts or seeds (like pine nuts, sunflower or sesame seeds), you might need to adjust the cooking time.

5 steps for toasting nuts

1. Warm a pot over high heat.

2. Add nuts or seeds.

3. For the first minute or two, stir occasionally.

4. Once the nuts are fragrant, stir constantly until they are very fragrant (about another minute).*

5. Remove from heat and continue to stir for 30 second to 1 minute.

*Notes: If you’ve never toasted nuts before, you might want to stir frequently until you can tell (smell 🙂 ) the difference between slightly and very fragrant nuts. Rely on your eyes and nose more so than on the clock as nuts go very quickly from being delicately toasted to decidedly burnt.

Also, a pan with a thinner bottom will toast the nuts faster than a pan with a heavier bottom, such as a cast iron pan. So depending on the pan you use, cooking time may vary slightly.

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