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5 ways to bless your family titles

5 Ways to Bless Your Family, Your Budget and Your Community

 This blog is for informational purposes. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family with your purchases. 

5 ways to bless your family titles

 

Take This Short Quiz

  1. What is the number one thing you can do as a family to improve your general health?
  1. What is a good way to connect with your teenagers?
  1. What is the most important thing the average person can do to make the American food system healthier and more sustainable?
  1. Name one thing can an individual do to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on a fluctuating, unstable economy?
  1. What activity can you do with young children to engage them in learning concepts in math and science even when they don’t usually enjoy those subjects?

The answers:

  1. cook 2. cook 3. cook 4. cook 5. cook

 Cooking vs Watching Cooking

Two people (both grandmothers!) in the last week have told me “I don’t cook!” Way too many people in my classes over the years have admitted they rarely or never cook. In fact Americans spend less time on average cooking each day than people in any other country! The average time spent cooking per day (not per meal, per DAY!) is 27 minutes – less time than it takes to watch The Next Food Network Star (what is up with this fascination of watching people cook? More people watch cooking than are actually doing cooking, and then when the show is over they still don’t have anything to eat!)

 It’s Healthier

Cooking at home is healthier. When you don’t cook you make yourself vulnerable to the big corporations who make all the ready-to-eat food you have to buy. Unless you spend big bucks to buy your meals from a local restaurant where the chef grows his own organic vegetables and carefully sources his ingredients from local farms, you are most likely eating a lot more refined sugar, industrial oils, and highly processed salt than you normally would if you cooked your own food. Corporations also use all kinds of chemical ingredients not available to the home cook. These chemical ingredients make their food last longer and look fresher than it actually is.

 Teens Like It

Cooking (and eating) together connects you as a family. Teens are social creatures, and they are also usually hungry creatures. :) Bringing them into the kitchen to prepare a meal is a way to get them to interact and be social with everyone who is involved in the meal preparation process. The shared experiences can build family bonds. Eating together a meal you have prepared gives a safe place for conversation, listening and sharing together.

 It Connects Us

Cooking connects you with your food and its origins. We were making homemade pizza as part of a Sunday school lesson and I had brought fresh oregano, parsley, and basil from my garden to use. One young 5th grade girl, already surprised that you could actually make a pizza, freaked out saying “why do you have weeds? How do you know those are safe to eat?” I said, “I grew these. They came from my garden. Where do you think food comes from?” and she replied, “I don’t know. The store has it.”

When we cook at home from fresh ingredients we are connecting in a small way to the rest of the community that grows and raises our food. We gain a new perspective on food when we see a list of raw ingredients get transformed into a meal. Growing something that you eat, or buying directly from a farmer, can bring even stronger connections. Real food doesn’t come in neat boxes, shrink wrapped for microwaving. Buying pre-prepared, pre-wrapped meals separates us from the reality of real food. Cooking at home from fresh ingredients creates more demand for real food while reducing the waste and high cost inherent in the processed food system.

 It’s Budget Friendly

Knowing how to cook gives you power over your budget. The illusion of the “value meal” keeps many people trapped eating expensive yet unhealthy food. Being able to cook for yourself means you can eat higher quality ingredients for less money. It means you can cook a little extra to freeze for later or to eat the next day for lunch instead of eating out. Knowing how to cook helps you be more frugal like when you use the bones for broth, leftover vegetables for soup, or freeze over ripe fruit for smoothies.

 It’s Educational

Teaching your children to cook opens up a new world for them. Measuring and counting, doubling a recipe, figuring out what makes bread rise, what makes pickles sour, seeing liquid cream transform into solid butter, comparing the taste of salt vs. sugar – all of this can bring math and science alive. Tactile experiences like kneading bread, cracking eggs, tearing lettuce, stirring batter, or chopping vegetables can be rewarding for busy little hands. And as your children grow and develop new skills in the kitchen you are giving them the gift of self-sufficiency for when they become adults.

Tell us your reasons for cooking! Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page!

Fa La La Lasagne

lasagne slice with titlesIt was Christmas Potluck time at the martial arts school where my son takes Kung Fu. He really wanted to go, but I was too busy to cook anything for him to take, plus I wasn’t even going to go myself.  I told him he could go if he would make something himself to take. I didn’t think it was fair to send a bottomless pit teenage boy to scarf up everybody else’s food without bringing anything to share! He chose lasagne even after I told him the sauce takes a half hour to simmer and then it still has to bake almost an hour. He loves lasagne.

Being a homeschool mom I grabbed the teaching moment. I handed him the recipe and told him to look and see what we already had and then make a shopping list. Then I took him to Publix and made him shop. He’s 16 and the time when he is out on his own is drawing nearer and nearer no matter how much I don’t want it to come. I want him to be self-sufficient so I’ve taught him how to sort laundry and use the washing machine. I’ve had him with me in the kitchen since he was big enough to pull up a stool and stand next to me at the counter. He’s been cooking independently since he was six. He’s learning to drive, to balance a checkbook and manage a savings account. He can operate the vacuum, wash dishes, and clean the bathroom, mow the lawn, run the string trimmer and build a compost pile. Planning a menu, grocery shopping and cooking from scratch to share with others is something else grownups need to be able to do. He jumped into the project happily.

lasagne and leo with captionShopping, prepping the ingredients and making the sauce were all easy, he only needed a little help when it came to actual assembly of the layers. One of my tricks is to only cook the lasagne noodles halfway so they are pliable but they don’t fall apart when you pick them up. They continue to cook inside the casserole during baking so you don’t end up with crunchy pasta. It also takes a little experience knowing how much to use in each layer so you don’t end up with something leftover when it’s all finished, or run out of something before you’re done.

So here’s the recipe for my lasagne. I’ve been making it since I was 16. I’m glad to pass the torch along to my son. I have fond memories of making this lasagne and sharing it with my own friends and family; I hope he will build some memories sharing meals with his own friends and family, too.

Lasagne

Ingredients

1 lb grassfed ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
3 Tblsp olive oil, divided use
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
2 6oz cans tomato paste
2 cups filtered water
1 Tblsp chopped parsley
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp honey
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
8 oz lasagne noodles
1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
8 oz mozarella, shredded
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preparation

In a large, heavy pan brown the ground beef and onion in 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, parsley, salt, honey, garlic, pepper, oregano and Italian seasoning. Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the lasagne noodles for about half the time as directed adding the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the cooking water to keep them from sticking together. Drain.

In a 9×13 casserole pan spread 1 cup of the sauce. Alternate layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan – ending with sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling. Allow to stand 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.
yield: 8 servings

Lasagne
 
Author:
Recipe type: casserole
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8 squares
 
Making lasagne from scratch is a great activity for teens to do with each other or with the family.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 6oz cans tomato paste
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 8 oz lasagne noodles
  • 1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to a large heavy pan over medium heat.
  2. Brown the ground beef and onion.
  3. Add the dice tomatoes, tomato paste, water, parsley, salt, honey, garlic, pepper, oregano and Italian seasoning.
  4. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. Cook the lasagne noodles for half the time as directed, adding the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the cooking water to keep the pasta from sticking together.
  6. Drain the pasta.
  7. Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole pan.
  8. Alternate layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan - ending with sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling.
  10. Allow to stand for 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

lasagne resized watermark

Do you have teens? How are you preparing them for living on their own? Do they like to cook? Share your stories with us here or come leave a reply on Facebook.

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family with your purchases.

Taco Stew

taco stew titlesThe whole family loves this recipe. I made it a few months ago when we had several teens over for dinner and they all raved about it. One sweet young lady even asked for the recipe – I love it when kids feel empowered to cook!

The ingredients are simple. This is a great example of how you can take inexpensive real food and make something delicious, nutritious and not break the budget. You can splurge on the grassfed ground beef because the rest of the soup costs so little. I’d estimate the cost per serving, if you soak and cook your own beans from dried and make your own homemade broth, to be less than $3 per serving. Definitely a meal you can be happy about!

Taco Stew

Ingredients

1 lb. grassfed ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, pressed

olive oil or butter for the pan

2 Tablespoons no-MSG taco seasoning (make your own and save even more)

4 cups homemade chicken or beef broth

2 small zucchini or yellow squash, diced

2 cups cooked black beans

2 cups (or one 15oz can) diced tomatoes

1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 cup salsa

1/2-3/4 teaspoon sea salt (depending on how salty your taco seasoning is)

For topping:

shredded cheese

diced avocado

sour cream

non-GMO verified tortilla chips

Preparation

Heat oil or butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and ground beef and saute until beef is browned. Sprinkle with the taco seasoning and stir well to blend. Add the broth, squash, beans, tomatoes, corn and salsa and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Taste and add the remaining salt if needed. Serve with the cheese, avocado, sour cream and chips if desired.

Taco Stew
 
Author:
Recipe type: soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4-6 servings
 
Healthy and family-friendly, this soup is easy on the budget while remaining nutrient-dense.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, choped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • olive oil or butter
  • 2 Tablespoons no-MSG taco seasoning (homemade is best)
  • 4 cups homemade chicken or beef broth
  • 2 small zucchini or yellow squash, diced
  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • 2 cups (or one 15oz can) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 cup salsa
  • ½-3/4 teaspoon sea salt (depending on how salty your taco seasoning is)
  • shredded cheese
  • diced avocado
  • sour cream
  • non-GMO tortilla chips
Instructions
  1. Heat oil or butter in a large pot over mdeium-high heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic and ground beef and saute until beef is browned.
  3. Sprinkle with taco seasoning and stir well to blend.
  4. Add the broth, squash, beans, tomatoes, corn and salsa and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Taste and add the remaining salt if needed.
  6. Serve with cheese, avocado, sour cream and chips if desired.

 

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