When all my kids were little-bitty, I needed to utilize every time-saving kitchen trick I could. Cooking while holding a baby, keeping the toddler from grabbing a knife, and playing referee between the two pre-schoolers – well no wonder so many moms resort to boxed dino-nuggets.
Somehow (my kids and) I lived to tell about it.
Then there were what I lovingly refer to as “the golden years.” That was when my kids were between the ages of 4 and 12. They could all buckle themselves into their van seats, they could entertain themselves without having to be watched constantly, and they began to do more and more of their school work independently. I no longer had to do all the wiping. I won’t go into details (there is no need) but it is a blissfully happy day when the mom no longer has to do all the wiping. You know I’m right.
Parenting was still challenging during “the golden years” but not as relentless as the baby years. I found myself with a little extra time to do things I loved like bake bread every week and can 100+ jars of produce each year. How nice! I could now run circles around my kitchen and have much to show for it.
Then the teen years hit. I still hold to the truth that teenagers are wonderful and amazing, and I love this stage like no other. I constantly marvel watching God grow my children from little boys to young men, and I thoroughly enjoy the fun we have as our boys discover gifts and talents and grown-up personalities.
But the intensity of parenting needs has increased in ways that have blind-sided me a bit. Their schedules got busier outside our home, which meant that mine did too. Instead of teaching them to read, we are teaching them to drive. Instead of talking about sharing toys, we talk about maintaining purity. What used to be a 20-minute math lesson has turned into two hours of complicated algebra (which they can mostly do on their own ~ XOXOXO Teaching Textbooks). Reading aloud while we lay around on couches and pillows has turned into writing 5-7 page papers in MLA format for college professors.
This is all a part of life and raising kids. God continues to equip and prepare and provide, just as He always has. All I’m really saying here about raising teenagers is this:
I now have less time for cooking for a family who eats five times the amount of food.
No big deal.
Perhaps you’ve noticed a theme with my last few months’ recipe and food posts. While I’ve always been into simple-to-make recipes, now I’ve even more of a need to make real food, fast. Food has to be quick, easy, make-ahead, stir-and-pour, wash-and-serve, heat-and-eat. It’s all still real food. It’s all still delicious. But if I can’t make it without very little brain-energy and time, I just can’t make it. There is no time for kneading or canning right now. My people need me now more than ever.
But there is also a big need for food. So I’ve learned:
- how to make 5-Minute Stove-Top Granola
- how to make Stir-and-Pour Bread
- how to avoid kneading Cinnamon Rolls
- more ways to cook once and eat twice
- to make salads as meals so we eat plenty of greens
- how to very easily add fruits and veggies to our meals
Any kitchen appliance that saves me time while feeding my family real food is a must-have. Allow me to share my current favorite.
For years, I’d heard from several of you about how awesome a Blendtec is. Their price tag startled me though, so I kept spending $25 on cheap blenders that would give out after about a year. (I use a blender several times every day. After 10-12 months none of the Walmart blenders can handle me anymore. “Get me out of this lady’s kitchen,” they say, just before they die.)
Finally about a year ago, instead of dropping another $25 on a cheap blender, I decided to go ahead and invest in a Blendtec. It made sense after reading how powerful they are, and if felt silly to keep dropping $25 on what I would soon have to put in the dumpster.
I’m never going back to a cheap blender again. The Blendtec has changed my kitchen life, and if you think I’m exaggerating, go back and read the paragraphs above about feeding teenage boys while trying to keep up with their schedules. This blender saves me so much time in the kitchen! It blends a smoothie in 1/5 of the time it took to make smoothies in a cheap blender. I don’t have to take it apart to clean it (and then put it back together) – hallelujah. And my favorite discovery: I can use it to whip cream!
Instead of getting out a bowl and my hand mixer, then whipping cream for several minutes until soft peaks form, I dump the cream into my Blendtec and turn it on. Approximately 37 seconds later, I have whipped cream. It is so easy (even if the pictures below are ugly).
You know how I’ve been going on and on for the past few years about my Victorio being so wonderful for making applesauce and tomato sauce? I still hold to this and will always and forever use it to make tomato sauce. That appliance is a huge time saver! But if you can believe it, my Blendtec makes applesauce even easier. I didn’t even know it was possible!
See the huge bowls of applesauce below? (Well, the one on the left used to be full of applesauce.) I was able to make those so quickly because of my Blendtec.
I made the applesauce using this method, then just dumped the cooked apples into my Blendtec and blended until smooth. (I edited this post to update you on what is now the quickest way I’ve found to make applesauce.) It actually makes the applesauce creamy, and it takes so little time and very little effort on my part. (By the way, you can read about my cute little applesauce cups here.)
Well, yay for anything that saves time in the kitchen, no matter what season of life we are in. I think good food is important (obviously), but there is more to life than standing on our feet in the kitchen. There are people to love on, events to attend and support, needs all around us to be met. The more we can learn about making real food faster and simpler, the better.
What are some of your favorite time-saving appliances in your kitchen? Do you have a favorite blender?
Psst…I have another fun Stir-and-Pour Bread tip for you tomorrow! We’ll save even more time and money!
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I was actually looking into a Bosch mixer @ Paula’s Bread for kneading bread (6 loaves at a time) & wondering if you’ve ever considered it and what you think about it!
I love my Bosch. It handles ANYTHING I put in it. My Kitchen Aid mixer was not loving whole wheat and started to have problems. But my Bosch doesn’t skip a beat. It is a great investment.
Sheila H. says
The Instant Pot has saved my family from fast food. I can have the most tender beef stew on the table in 40 minutes, turnip greens in 10 minutes, chili in 20 minutes, and on and on. It sautés and steams and slow cooks!!
I don’t make applesauce to can or freeze but we do enjoy applesauce when we have extra apples. We eat it with baked oatmeal. I omit sweetner from the oatmeal, pour applesauce into our bowls and scoop baked oatmeal on top. A meal no one complains about! To make applesauce I wash and cut apples into pieces and throw them in my Vitamix. No need to remove the seeds and core, just pull off stem. Turn Vitamix on, use the tamper to get things moving, in a minute or 2 you have smooth, raw applesauce. When we used to have leftovers (before we had 7 children!) we would pour onto parchment paper and dehydrate to make fruit leathers.
Karen Dee says
I do the same thing for my applesauce. Love Cortlands. Don’t even have to add anything but cinnamon. Enzymes are killed and all the vitamins and minerals still there! Yay Vitamix!
Karen Dee says
Oops! I meant enzymes are not killed
I made the easiest applesauce ever this year with my Vitamix blender. I didn’t have perfect apples so I had to peel and cut them up, but I just put them into the Vitamix and blended them up for a few seconds, then poured it into my 22 qt. stockpot. I kept doing this until I had a pot almost full and heated it until boiling, then ladled into jars and waterbath canned them. If I had had perfect apples I would not have peeled them, just cut the core out and blended.
I have a Vitamix…and I sure wish I could put it in the dishwasher. That would save even more time! I am really bad about hand washing things – it’s my least favorite task ( but I’m thankful to have a really nice blender.)
I love my immersion blender! The ability to puree soup right in the pot is genius. My other favorite is my food processor. Don’t know how I made pie crusts and biscuits, without it. A Vitamix/Blendtec is definitely on my wish list. I mostly use our blender for making green smoothies. A new blender would puree frozen fruit so quickly and mince up spinach/kale even finer.