Practical Kitchen Tips

Practical Tip of the Week: 

Ice Cube Trays Freeze Perfect Portions


 Excess chicken soup in the process of freezing

Excess chicken soup in the process of freezing

You may have noticed by now that I love finding ways to repurpose everyday items.  When my daughter was an infant, I was big into homemade baby food.  I pureed apples, pears, sweet potatoes, beans, peas, carrots, you name it.  After jarring enough to get us through a few days, I froze the remainder in ice cube trays. 

Once the contents were frozen, I emptied the cubes into labeled (including the date) containers or baggies.

Defrosting the quantity I wanted was fast and easy.  Getting little sleep at the time meant sometimes being forgetful when it came to pulling food out of the freezer for meals.  But since the cubes thaw rapidly, I was able to have her food at the ready in no time. 

No more need for baby food in this house, instead I use this process for soups, stews, and sauces.  Big chunks of solid ice take a long time to thaw so try this method and see what you think.

If your fingertips get like mine in the winter if I don't continuously moisturize, the dryness can make them a bit slick when I pick up objects.  This can be noticeably troublesome when I grab eggs from the refrigerator or remove them from the carton to place in an egg holder to nestle on a shelf.

In order to prevent dropping them, I lightly dampen my fingertips which counter-intuitively renders them less slippery.  So before you pick up an egg, quickly run your fingers under water for a little extra hold especially in the winter.



Lids can be a challenge to open sometimes.  Plastic seals around a new bottle top can cause further difficulty when opening a jar for the first time.  I use 2 solutions.

For small bottles such as extract that have the extra plastic security seal, a damp plush washcloth helps to get enough traction on the lid to get it to turn thereby loosening and releasing the plastic band.

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For larger mouth jars, I gently tap them on the countertop or other hard surface until I hear the tell-tale pop that the pressure has been discharged.  If I still need some extra assistance, I grab a rubber jar gripper and that usually provides enough torque to finish the job.







Condiment Storage

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Have an unused baby food jar carousel?  Convert it into storage for condiment/oil/vinegar bottles.

What's For Dinner? 
5 Simple Steps to Manage Meal Planning

What should I make for dinner tonight?  Do I have the ingredients? 

Do you dread searching for desirable recipes and scouring for necessary ingredients after a long day’s work or hustling between children’s after-school activities?  

Wouldn’t you love to painlessly plan meals? 

Use The Practical Sort's "No Sweat" method to manageable meal planning.  Follow the steps below to:

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Plan simple, homemade, weekly meals

Locate appealing, wholesome recipes

Easily track the groceries you need

Step 1:  Download The Practical Sort's Weekly Planner and Grocery List Template below.  Print the Planner on one side and the Grocery List on the other.   This method will ensure that you have the necessary ingredients.

Click on each link below to download :

Weekly Meal Planner

Grocery List Template

Basic Ingredient List

Step 2:  Recipe Selection
See suggested recipe sites below for easy meals.  As you select recipes, scan your fridge, freezer, and cupboard to see what you have on hand.  You can even pre-group ingredients into bins in your storage areas to coincide with the upcoming dinners.   If you have time, pre-mix your dry ingredients.

Step 3:  Grocery List 
Put an ‘x’ by any essential Grocery List items.  If you need more than one, such as 2 cans of tomato paste, then jot the number in the box next to the listed item.

Step 4:  Basic Ingredient List 
Add to your grocery list the products on the Basic Ingredient List if you are likely to use them.  A well-stocked pantry can be your saving grace for unplanned meal nights.  Store these items to ensure that you will always have basic “go-to’s” in order to whip up last minute dishes.

Step 5:  Recipe Sites
Need ideas for healthy recipes ?  Check out:
This site is user-friendly, the recipes are simple, and they have an array of special diet options ranging from gluten-free,  vegan, dairy-free, diabetes-specific, low-sodium, etc.
And this Cooking Light site is really cool.  You can drag and drop simple recipes into the 5 day menu planner.  Then select “View Recipe” to see what ingredients to add to your list.  “Eating Out” and “Leftover Nights” images are available to insert into nights when you know you won’t have the time or desire to cook.

Finally, if you forget to pull frozen meats out of the freezer, no need to worry.  Not a fan of microwave ovens like me?  No need to go that route if you use this trick.  In fact, it has been over 10 years since I used a microwave.  Put the meat or fish into a plastic bag and then immerse it in lukewarm water in a metal bowl.  Prep the remainder of your ingredients.  Occasionally check the water to be sure it does not get too cold.  If it does, empty it and refill with lukewarm water.  Save the frigid water and as it warms, use it to water your plants.  The meat will typically thaw within 30 minutes.  Fish may take less time.