As my life has gotten busier over the years, I have found that my old way of deal shopping and couponing is just not practical for every week of the year. I love the thrill of the hunt and the challenge of getting great deals for my family, but the time it takes is just not feasible some weeks. I recently got the opportunity to review the e-book, Simplified Dinners by Mystie Winckler. I think she may have the answer I was looking for.
Simplified Pantry offers three great products, Simplified Dinners, Simplified Dinners Gluten-Free/ Dairy-Free ($12.99 each) and Paperless Home Organization ($3.99). Mystie Winckler has developed these products out of her own need to simplify her life as a mom and help her household run more smoothly. These books are available in .pdf and Kindle formats.
Simplified Dinners is a 30-page ebook that begins with Mystie sharing a story about how her life changed after the birth of her third child. She began realizing that the deal shopping and cooking hobbies that she used to enjoy were taking more mental energy and brain power than she could muster. She began working on developing a process to help her free up some of her time and mental energy. Fast forward four years and you get Simplified Dinners! She goes on to explain how using a pantry list of items you always keep on hand and a group of recipes and processes to make meals can help you streamline the whole “What’s for Dinner” quandary.
The Pantry List includes the following categories(with examples from each category following):
- Produce – potatoes, carrots, lettuce
- Seasonings – basil, dill, garlic powder, paprika, taco seasoning.
- Dry Goods – beans, oats, cornmeal, dried cranberries, flour
- Bottled Goods – vanilla extract, olive oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, jam
- Canned Goods – applesauce, pickles, mandarin oranges, diced tomatoes
- Dairy – butter, cheese, eggs, milk, sour cream
- Meat – turkey, ground beef, ham, whatever is on sale
- Frozen – berries, broccoli, corn, orange juice concentrate
The next portion of the book is dedicated to 27 different meal types from which multiple recipes can be created. By keeping everything on the suggested Pantry List, you will have everything you need to make all the suggested processes and recipes in the e-book. Some of the meal types discussed include:
- Slow-Cooker Roasts
- Bean Pots
- Stovetop Pasta Dishes
- Foil Fish Packets
- Oven Omelette
- Potato Hash
- and many more…..
The following quote from the ebook helps explain the format of the recipe processes.
The primary purpose of these recipes is not so much to provide recipes as to give reminders of the general method of certain standard family dinners.
The first process listed in the book is for making slow-cooker roasts. There are four steps given in the process of cooking a roast in the slow-cooker. Browning the roast, mixing together the seasonings, adding the roast and seasonings to the slow-cooker, and then cooking for 6 to 8 hours. You can take these four steps and use the ingredients you have from the pantry list and whatever types of roast you find on sale to create the following recipes:
- Barbecue Pork
- Savory Beef Roast
- Sweet & Sour Pork
- Rich Roast
- Golden Glow Pork
- Cranberry Wine Roast
- Savory Pork Roast
- Balsamic Roast
The recipes are easy to follow and don’t give exact measurements in most cases. Ratios are given for you to be able to tweak the recipe to your tastes and family size. At the end of the book there are three side dish processes given, a sample menu plan, and a blank menu plan for your reference and use.
After trying out this way of meal planning and shopping, I thought that Mystie’s ideas are great. At first, I was a little nervous about just sprinkling in spices and pouring in sauces without exact measurements. I like to have exact directions, so this took me outside of my comfort zone. (I guess you could say I am more of a baker than a cook). As time went on, I became more confident and less tentative in my use of the processes. I think that keeping all the pantry items on hand gave me a sense of freedom knowing that I had lots of options for dinner each night. As a former avid couponer, who has had to slow down on the deal shopping since the arrival of baby number 3 three years ago, this way of approaching frugal shopping using whole foods and less processed food appealed to me. I don’t think I would ever be able to use this plan exclusively. I like to be creative in the kitchen and try new recipes on occasion. However, this plan works great for me on weeks when I don’t have time to coupon shop, I have lots on my to-do list, or we are on the go. I can see myself using this during busy seasons, when I am going through shopping burnout, or when I just want a break from more detailed meal planning. I found that getting my shopping list together took much less time than it usually did using the Simplified Dinners method. I think that her approach would appeal to new mothers, working moms, and really anyone who would like to save time and money in the kitchen while still eating healthfully. Check out Mystie’s blog for more recipes, menu planning ideas and kitchen tips.
Mystie offers some the same great plan as Simplified Dinners, with all the gluten removed from the processes, in her Simplified Dinners Gluten-Free/ Dairy-Free ebook. There are even some recipes/processes for gluten-free desserts. If you are looking for some organizational help in the areas of home management, taming the paper clutter or just want to learn some awesome tips and tricks for Evernote and Gmail be sure to look at Paperless Home Organization by Mystie Winckler. She has offered my readers a 30% discount on her ebooks. Just enter the code TOS2013 at checkout through June 3rd.
The Molly Crew has reviewed all the e-books mentioned in this post. Click on the graphic below if you would like to read more about them.