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Living Well in Yalobusha County

Tips For Cooking Easier Weeknight Meals

Last week I along with around 20 other MSU Extension Agents and Specialists enjoyed a trip to Baton Rouge, La. for the Healthy Homes Curriculum training by Drs. Claudette Reichel and Bobbie Shaffett, both of LSU.  Our training was held at LaHouse Resource Center on the LSU Campus, which we were able to tour.  LaHouse is a high-performance housing demonstration home, educational attraction and Extension outreach program of the LSU AgCenter. LaHouse exhibits hundreds of research-based solutions for green, hazard-resistant and healthy homes.  

The Healthy Homes program deals with topics such as lead, asthma and allergies, mold and moisture, carbon monoxide, radon, drinking water, household chemicals, pests, home safety, temperature control, indoor environmental quality. This is a wonderful program that can be presented in a series or just as a single program.  If you are interested in having me come to teach Healthy Homes to your group (either single or series program) please give me a call at the Extension Office and I will be glad to work on a time to come.

3 Cooking Tips for Easier Weeknight Meals

Getting a healthful, tasty, and simple dinner on the table during weeknights can take some doing. In fact, many people say that the difficulty of getting meals on the table on busy weeknights is one of their major stumbling blocks on the road to good health.

Luckily, there are a few simple things that you can do to streamline the process and make it easier to prepare weeknight meals.

Strategy #1: Tune Up Your Pantry

If you can’t find the food you’ve stocked, it won’t be useful for your weeknight dinners. Overcrowded and messy pantries can make it harder to find what you need as you set out the ingredients for a meal you’d like to cook, and they also create a vicious cycle where you can’t find an ingredient that you actually have (hidden wayyyy back in the pantry) so you buy it again and add to the clutter that blocked you from seeing the ingredient you needed in the first place.

To give your pantry a deep cleaning, work shelf-by-shelf.

Pull everything off of one shelf, dust away any trash and give the empty shelf a good scrub. Then look at everything you took off that shelf, toss anything that’s expired, and donate anything that’s not perishable but which you won’t use. Organize the rest into categories that make sense to you and put them back in the pantry. I shared some organization and display tips in this kitchen hack, but the most important thing is that you find an approach that works for you.

Repeat this process with the remaining shelves.

Strategy #2: Check Your Herbs and Spices

When I recently cleaned out my spice rack (and the cabinets that held all the overflow) I found 5 different half-used bottles of cinnamon taking up space. I consolidated them into 2 jars and was able to reduce the clutter in my kitchen in a single step.

Make sure that the herbs and spices you use most regularly are easily accessible — eliminating the search for key ingredients will make weeknight cooking a little easier, and every little bit helps.

Also, herbs and spices can lose flavor over time, so check your expiration dates and give each jar a sniff to make sure that everything is still aromatic and fresh. Replace any stale spices — this will help you prepare more flavorful meals that are more likely to be accepted by your whole family, picky eaters and all. Dull spices can ruin a recipe!

Strategy #3: Stock Your Freezer

Stocked freezers make weeknight cooking a breeze!

When you make a recipe, consider doubling it and freezing the rest for another night when all that you have the energy for is removing and reheating. After a few doubled recipes, you’ll be well on your way to a stocked freezer that you can rely on in a pinch.

MSU Extension Service


Crochet will meet on Thursday, April 20th at 10 a.m. at the Extension Office. Remember to bring a crochet hook and yarn.  We will be collecting items for Save a Life at this meeting.

The 4-H FCS Club will meet on Thursday, April 20th at 4 p.m.  Youth ages 5-18 are invited to attend.  Parents are encouraged to stay and take part in the fun.  This week we will have a guest speaker, Mrs. Nicole Folson will be teaching the youth about modeling and clothing selection.  Boys and girls are encouraged to come.  The meetings are free.  Please call 675-2730 to let us know your child will be attending.

4-H Art Workday – Our first art day to get ready for several art contests was a great success.  If your child is interested, Mrs. Pat Rodrigue will be having one more art workday on Thursday, 27th from 3:00 p.m. until 5.  Please call the Extension Office at 675-2730 to let us know your child will be attending.  If we do not have anyone to register by noon the day of workshop, the workshop will be cancelled.

Healthy You Exercise Classes are free and meet every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 until 9:45 a.m.  Make sure that you wear cool, comfortable clothes, good walking shoes and bring some water to drink. 

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