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May 01, 2009



I love Uncle Bens!! It' so easy to make and super delicious!

Classy Mommy

Super contest. To simplify my life and cooking I have one main assistant - The Microwave. The next best thing I can do to simplify dinner, shopping, and maximize my time is buy "healthy" pre-packaged and prepped frozen meals that we can heat on the stovetop in 10 minutes. I've found quality has increased in the last 1 year on these ready made meals and since I'm no chef in the kitchen we feel like it is somewhat gourmet since they include more unique flavorings than I'd regularly buy and prepare in a meal.


To simplify my life, as a busy, work-at-home mom of a 4 yr old and a baby, I simply lower my standards. I know it sounds like common sense but I had to make a conscious effort to this, being the perfectionist that I am.

For instance, if we're rushing in the morning before preschool and don't have much time, I'll let my daughter go to school with her hair uncombed (doesn't look too bad, just wind-blown) and I'll let her brush her teeth later in the day.

Or if it's dinner time, and I've had an awful busy day, I'll prepare boxed convenience foods or give my daughter a dinner of eating peanut butter straight from the jar with pre-cut apple slices and cheese cubes.

kristina (at) sauerwein (at) sbcglobal (dot net).


I simplify my life by eating take-out as often as possible. It saves me all the time I'd spend cooking, and everyone's happy with what they get. Honestly, I do wish I'd take the time to cook more often, but with twin babies and a bunch of scary health issues lately, it just doesn't happen. Besides, I'm so tired of both my husband and child not wanting to eat my cooking.

Melissa Multitasking Mama

I simplify by living according to my priorities, make my to do list based on those priorities and then work the list. When you cut through the clutter (all the extra stuff that saps all your time and energy) and focus on what is truly important you will be amazed at how simple life can be!


Great contest! My time-savers are the cheats like this Uncle Ben's rice or similarly-packaged Trader Joe's brand... A favorite quick dinner is stir-fry with garlic, whatever veggies are left in the drawer, and the rice dumped right in out of the bag and heated in the skillet. Depending on what's leftover, that can become a Chinese meal (add egg and sesame oil), an Indian meal (with a little TJ's red curry sauce -- yumm!), Thai (throw in peanuts!) or "American chopped suey" (tomatoes, cheese, beef). I confess that I cheat with this pre-made rice a lot -- not incredibly green of me, but a huge timesaver when I need a super-quick dinner (at least twice a week it seems) and didn't plan ahead to load up the slow cooker (my other best friend) in the morning.


I simplify my cooking life by planning meals for the week and trying to make a single grocery store run. This almost always fails when we run out of milk mid-week or I realize I've forgotten to get some key ingredient like garlic, but it's a good strategy.

Like CityMama, I'm not a huge fan of shortcuts like microwave rice...but I have a feeling that if I gave it a try, I'd never go back.

I also love to-do lists and make a new one daily. I take great pleasure in crossing things out -- it gives me momentum to do the big things -- so I will list pretty much everything I have to do, from showering to exercising to dropping the kids off at school.

My kids are still pretty small, but we're starting to give them their own weekly chores. So far that's making my life more complicated -- it's easier to do this stuff myself -- but I think it's important for them to feel like contributing members of the household.

cat/bad kitty

When I'm in a pro-carb place, I love a good bag o'rice! I usually get the Trader Joe's brown rice in a bowl, and yes, I have green guilt, but I compost and recycle, so it's not that bad.

My high ideals way of simplifying is to set a menu on Sunday, go shopping, and just follow the plan during the week. It's amazing how easy it is to cook a great homemade meal when you have everything you need on hand!

On weeks when I'm more rushed, we sneak in some take out, but I still try to be conscious of the food (sustainable, heart healthy) and the containers (recyclable or compostable.)

And then there are the nights when I throw in the towel and we get beer & pizza. Because it's fast, easy & delicious. But I still make my husband put the pizza box in the recycling bin!


I simply my life by having my kids get most of their snacks. I put them in places they can reach. They eat healthy options such as carrot sticks, apples, and string cheese. Plates and silverware are also kid accessible.


I simplify my life as a mom by making meal prep easier for myself in the following way: whenever I buy meat, when I get home I put the meat in a ziploc freezer bag, and add all the marinade ingredients to it, shake it up and put it in the freezer. Then in the morning of the day I want to use it, I transfer it to the fridge. By the evening the meat is thawed and ready to be baked or grilled or cooked...And its full of flavor! Then, all I have to do is boil the rice/veggies and dinner is ready, with almost NO prep time!!

Redneck Mommy

Holy crap! You can cook rice in big batches and freeze it for later? Why have I not known this before?

My kid is a sucker for Uncle Ben's flavoured rice packages. I may have to try this out for him.

Backpacking Dad

To simplify my life I read CityMama for great tips and recipes for simplifying my life. Like this great one I just read today: "To simplify my life I read CityMama for great tips and recipes for simplifying my life. Like this great one I just read today....."

There. You now have what might be the first recursive comment.


I simplify by meal planning a week in advance which not only saves me the headache of thinking "what are we going to eat tonight" but also if everything goes well means only one trip to the store a week. I also make one massive Costco run a month where I buy most of my proteins. When I get home, I'll split up the packages into single use servings, vaccuum seal the packages and throw them in the freezer. I know, not really local or organic but I (try to) keep it local/organic with the rest of the fresh stuff.
Lastly, when I make something that reheats/freezes well like chili or chicken soup, I make double/triple batches so I can easily put the frozen leftovers in the crockpot to reheat while we're running around (sadly, I don't like to cook in the crock pot so I can't say I use that as a time saver).


To simplify my life with a 3.5 year old and 14 month old, I make sure to prep all the milk and water cups, cereal bowls, etc. and leave them on the counter each night before bed. In the morning, I just have to fill each container for a quick breakfast before we rush out the door. It saves just enough time to let me enjoy breakfast too. I'm also a huge proponent of letting my older daughter do as much as possible independently, like dressing herself, general bathroom needs, loading her stuff into the car, etc. It gives me more time to tackle her little sister and lets E feel more self-confidence and pride in her accomplishments.


To simplify my life, I hire awesome cleaning ladies to clean our house once every 4-6 weeks. And I don't have to have an awesome home cooked meal everyday.


i usually cook enough to have leftovers, which means i have one four or five fewer meals (or parts of meals) to cook each week.


I menu plan. Each week I figure out what we're going to eat for the week, make a list based off of that, and take that grocery shopping with me. Makes the shopping and cooking easier, and makes knowing what we'll eat each night SO MUCH EASIER.


OMG - this is fantastic about the $1 per comment donation to Feed America!

I like to double batch. I prepare it up to putting it in the oven and then put half in in my deep freeze.

It is so stress free to just mosey down to the basement and take something out in the morning to defrost and have a wonderful home cooked meal and all I have to do is put it in the oven!


I have the minute rice in a cup microwavable for the girls and that boil in a bag stuff. I can't cook rice AT ALL and my girls love basmati and jasmin which I find impossible to cook.

I usually set aside 1 sunday a month to make a huge batch of red sauce and meatballs, chili and stew. Then I freeze it all and we eat 1x a week for the month. It is great to have that from the freezer, to the microwave with some bread or pasta, eay meal for friday or a busy sunday.


I freeze portions of stuff I make from our garden vegetables (salsa, pesto, stewed tomatoes and okra) so I can use them all year as "cheater" meal starters.


In order to simplify my life, I cook a big batch of food in the beginning of the week, enough to last me at least 5-6 meals. Usually I will make pasta with a tasty sauce, and mix it up over the week with different ingredients. I saute the sauce with mushrooms and bacon pieces, or zucchini and corn for something lighter. This way I spend less than 10 minutes to whip up a new delicious meal! All I have to do is top the leftover pasta with some of the new sauce and microwave, after sprinkling with a little water and covering partially with a lid.


To simplify my life, when my husband (an Active Duty US Sailor) is home, I plan meals that will create good leftovers.

For example, I might make chili, rice and cornbread one night, sauteed cabbage with kielbasa, apples & onions another night, chicken enchiladas with rice and refried beans another night, and his favorite green curry chicken with basmati rice another night.

When I put away the leftovers I go ahead and pack individual meals in bento boxes or small cotainers. Then for lunch, my husband can just grab a bento, knowing it already contains a full meal (curry and rice, chili with rice and cornbread, enchiladas with rice and beans, etc.) Add a piece of fruit, or some raw veggies (already cut up and divided into individual serving baggies) and lunch is done!

This way, cooking once creates several meals (one dinner, two or three lunches).

Another tip to save time and effort -- I am NOT a morning person. Rather than stumble around at 5am to put together a nutritious breakfast, I get it all ready the night before. I put 1/2 a cup of old-fashioned or quick oats into a thermal coffee mug, and add a pinch of salt. Then I pour in 1 cup of boiling water, give it a stir, and put the lid on. In a small bowl, I place turkey pepperoni (for savory oatmeal) or chopped nuts and cut up bananas or dried cranberries or raisins (for sweet oatmeal). In the morning, dump the oatmeal (now fully cooked) into the bowl, give it a stir, microwave for a minute, and breakfast is ready!


I don't have kids yet, but I babysit full time and so to save time in the kitchen, I prepare the food ahead of time during naptime or when the kids are asleep, so I can have a fully-cooked meal ready in minutes, if not seconds in order to avoid the pre-dinner/lunch whine. Also, if I've got other chores to do that I can do while the kids are awake, such as folding laundry (I can move the laundry to wherever they are), then I will do that and free up more time for cooking.


Oh, and I cannot say enough for TJ's frozen pre-prepared things, including rice. They save so much time, especially if I'm so flustered, tired or busy, that I forget to start the rice or some other carb and suddenly realize that dinner's about to be served and I need something pronto.

oona b

To simplify our home life, I am a big fan of routine. School bags get unpacked right away (so I don't find the dreaded smelly yogurt 4 days later) artwork gets filed in a portfolio (or recycled) and papers that need parental attention are magneted to the fridge so we don't misplace them.
Clothes are laid out the night before to avoid meltdowns over favorite pairs of socks that can't be located.
I plan meals for the week so that I don't waste time running back and forth to the store. I stock up on items that are on sale and have a reserve of toilet paper, toothpaste, etc so I don't have to make a special trip just for one thing!
Most importantly, I am trying to get rid of STUFF, so we have the things that matter and that are actually used. It feels so good to have less clothes to wash and fold, and less toys to put away.
My daughter is responsible for feeding our cat, letting him out in the mornings, putting her clothes in the hamper, putting away some of her laundry, and setting the table.


We simplify by having two meals a week with another family. Not only do we get to have great conversations, try new recipes and build up our little community, but the kids also get to run off all their energy, and everyone sleeps better on those nights.


I cook a couple times a week and each time I cook enough to provide leftovers for the days that I'm too busy to cook!


To simplify my life I use lists. I'm a total list maker.

It's easy when you can see and cross off what you have to accomplish!

Gena OBrien

To simplify your life in the morning try this:

When you are running late in the morning use ice cream cones for a fast breakfast on the go. Not only does it have a built in handle-- your kids can eat the dish. Fill with sliced fruit, then a layer or yogurt(or cottage cheese) and top with wheat germ or granola!

You can also fill with scrambled eggs mixed with cheese and veggies.

P. Gardiner

I hate to throw away food, so I've had to get creative. To keep from throwing out milk that is getting a little funky I make pudding pops. A box of instant pudding uses up 3 cups of milk, and I can use soy milk to top it off if I need to. In the freezer they keep for months and the kids can have a sweet snack when we have a sunny day.

P. Gardiner

I put bananas in the freezer when they are getting overripe. A minute or so in the microwave, and they can be added to pancake or waffle mix. One or two bananas added to the batter add a nice sweetness, and make them a tender yummy treat for the weekends. My daughter actually gets a little peeved when we run out of frozen bananas and we have to eat "plain" pancakes.

Donna Holmberg

A neighbor and I work out our menues together, then every other day we each cook a double portion of our meal for that night. We deliver the 2nd portion to each other later that night, then NEITHER one of us has to cook the next night - we just reheat whatever meal the neighbor gave us the night before. Sometimes we agree to simply cook a double portion of the meat only, then we use add our own choice of side dishes to it.


life is easier by downsizing!!! donate or sell everything you don't use regularly...it's easier to clean, organize and remember where things are!


The most recent time saver I've been using is frozen bell peppers. Bell peppers in my area have been sky rocketing in price and the quality is just a shame. If I buy a bag of frozen I don't have to pay 3 dollars each for one red, one yellow and one red pepper ($9!!) I get all three for less than two dollars!

Sure I would prefer fresh to frozen in my recipes, so when the economy and the farming starts getting better I will switch, until then, frozen it is!


To simplify my life, I take an hour or so on Sunday to cut up fresh fruits and veggies. All of these are stored in transparent containers in the fridge so there's never an excuse that the healthy stuff isn't easy.

Janice Liao Shiao

1. scan weeks advertisement at local market for deals.
2. meal plan.
3. during 2 year old's afternoon nap. cut and prep all veggies, marinate meats so that cooking is a snap.



I try to simplify by shopping for the week ahead on the weekend and doing produce cleaning and prep that day. Then I usually prepare something that my husband can take to work for at least 2 meals. He works nights and has no problems eating leftovers, thankfully. It's just me and my son during the week for dinner so I try to make something easy as he's clamoring for my attention right when I'm needing to prepare the meal. I get him involved as much as a 4 year old boy can be without making more work for myself to clean up once he's in bed.


Well, nine times out of ten I simplify my life by ordering out, I can't lie! This summer I'm looking towards a grocery delivery service though. Half the reason I don't make big meals is because I don't want to haul groceries home on the bus, but by using the grocery delivery service, I'll be a lot more likely to make something happen!


Sriracha sauce! My MO for dinner most nights is rice, whatever random veggies and meat I have around, topped with either soy sauce, oyster sauce, or (most nights) sriracha sauce. It's spicy and keeps my meals from being too boring.


To simplify my life, I got rid of my TV. I have a lot of time to do the things I want!


I simplify my life by refusing to blow dry.



I live alone so taking the time to prepare food isn't always as easy as say, fast food. But what I like to do is make a big meal, more than I would eat for dinner, and bring the leftovers to work the next day. Since it IS only me at home, I love to cook meals that are simple and easy to prepare. it's also helpful to pack the leftovers in single serve containers instead of one big container to save time in the morning when I'm late for work.

enoch choi, md

that's kind of expensive, i like the 90 second options at daiso or minsley.com brown rice bowls available at costco


When I'm cooking foods that freeze well for dinner -- some examples are meatloaf or marinated meats -- I like to double or triple the amount I make and freeze the extra meals flat in freezer bags. Then on busier weeks I can pull already prepped meals out of the freezer and assemble dinner very quickly.

The other thing I do to simplify my life is send my son to preschool. :)


vodka isn't a valid answer is it?

Tabitha Smith

To simplify my cooking I try to always make enough for two meals. I either freeze or store for lunches/meals later. Saves on cleanup and prep time!

(and I love that they're donating to help feed the hungry!)


I stock up on essentials at Costco: diced tomatoes, garbanzo beans, canned chicken & tuna, pasta, pasta sauce, tomato paste, mango nectar...

the tomatoes & chicken are great for making pasta, or adding to a can of chili, or combining with a rice product & sausage for "easy jambalaya".

Garbanzo beans are for pasta & green salads, or to make fresh hummus. Yum!

(the mango nectar is mixed with vodka & club soda!)

Deborah Dowd

What do I do to simplify life? Well I always keep some staples like Uncle Ben's around so that if I have a crazy day I can use rice as a base for a quick stir fry, or with beans and cheese for a meatless main- still good food but fast!


To simplify my life, I cook double batches of some meals like meatballs & spaghetti sauce, soups, and casseroles, and I freeze half for another meal.

Reva Skie

I keep a meal plan, it isn't day by day but more of a revolving system. I shop in "meals" and have a few choices in mind for each day. This keeps us from eating out so much and it is easier to cook if you have a definite plan for dinner.


One of my best simplify tips is to always double the recipe and freeze the second half! It allows us to eat home cooked meals much more often than otherwise, and keeps our fast food budget down :-)

Janet F

To simplify and speed up cooking I have a variety of fresh vegetables cleaned, cut up and in containers in the fridge. I do this every weekend and make sure that I have enough for the entire week. It saves me a lot of time.

janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

Vickie Bartlett

At this point in our lives, what works for us is much different that when we were raising our families. Some of the items that are actually economical for us now, whether in terms of time or effort, would have been out of the question then.

We loosely plan our meals around sale items or what we have on hand. I don't like to shop, so our shopping is kept to a minimum and done in a loop.

We have a pretty well stocked freezer; both with items purchased and due to our own cook once eat multiple times ways.


I simplify by roasting a large whole chicken every week. I can get a bunch of quick and healthy meals out of it, including my favorite chicken and brown rice soup. ;)


Uncle Ben's is awesome!


I simplify by prepping foods early, often the night before. If everything is cut up/measured/marinating before it's time to make the meal, it means mealtime will come even quicker for us.

(And I also use the steam-in-the-bag frozen veggies. SO EASY.)


For a quick meal at anytime here is what I do.
I buy a already cooked roteissaire chicken, make some uncle ben’s 90 sec. rice, and a little gravy. I then put a little chicken, rice and gravy into little microwavable bowls. Then I freeze them for quick meals on the run. Sometimes I add a little broccoli to the mix for variety.


Everyone has chores assigned to them regarding dinner so everyone knows in advance what is expected of them. In addition, each person(children included) is assigned weekly chores to do. Most often the weekly chores are done during the weekend. I decide at the beginning of the week my menus for the week which are based upon what is on sale. I go shopping with a list and lots of coupons.

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