With another summer coming to an end, the start of the school year means that fall (or “Autumn” as us Aussies say!) is just around the corner. Between the hustle and bustle of new schedules, afterschool carpools, and more, it can sometimes be tricky to make the time to prepare a meal for family and friends. That’s why I’m excited to share with you a few tips to help make it easier to cook delicious meals this back to school season. Think of this as your very own fall semester cooking syllabus from me and my friends at Bosch! Read on for more – plus the chance to win a copy of my cookbook, Good Food, Good Life.
Tip #1 Make it Fun
To me, cooking is just as much about bringing people together as it is about creating the perfect dish. So, when things get hectic, why not invite your family to step into the kitchen, too? Let’s start with the kids and one of their favorite meals – lunch.
Getting the kids back into a routine after a summer full of fun can be a bit of a challenge, but I’ve found that the best way to stay ahead of things is to get them involved. As someone who always cooks with the seasons, I have a lot of fun heading out to the garden and letting my two boys pick out fresh, in-season fruits and veggies to pack in their lunches. Did I mention how excited they are to head to their little schools with the fresh goodies they have picked out themselves? Healthy habits start early and I can’t think of a better way to teach them to eat heartily and healthfully than to get them involved with meal prep.
But you don’t have to have a garden at home to get the kids stuck into the meal prep with you-let’s talk about some other foolproof tips for getting dinner on the table as the kids start school.
Tip #2 Fall in Love with What’s in Season
The best meals begin with quality, seasonal ingredients and one of my favorite things about the changing of the calendar is the new crop of produce I get to work with. Fall brings cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, root vegetables, Swiss chard, broccoli, fennel, pears, apples and more, all of which are great additions to any meal – like this recipe for Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli and Pasta Bake. Growing up, we didn’t call it mac and cheese, but my Mum would toss veggies and pasta in a cheese sauce and bake it to golden brown perfection. It was one of my favorite meals. Like Lozza, my Mum, I’ve put a healthier twist on this timeless, kid-friendly favorite.
My other go-to pantry tip? Keep your kitchen stocked with pastas, canned tomatoes, a nice parmesan – key ingredients that can be used for a quick dinner with the addition of a fresh herb or spice. But my absolute favorite fall kitchen staple is truffles. Their earthiness practically screams “fall.” While I realize that not everyone has a truffle or two laying around the kitchen, mushrooms are a great alternative to these little treasures. There are so many varieties of mushrooms that can easily be added to stir fries, braises, risottos, soups and pasta dishes. Go for it!
Tip #3 Turn Meal Prep into a Family Activity
Weekends at my home start with a trip to our local farmers’ market to pick up some of these fall beauties. After bringing home our farmers’ market haul we wash everything and dive right into some mise en place – peeling and chopping vegetables for meals we’ll make during the week.
Luckily, the Bosch refrigerator has an incredible amount of storage space to house my fresh items, and some even feature VitaFresh technology, which helps keep produce fresher for longer. I could go on and on about why I love it – but I’ll let it speak for itself. See it in action with the video below!
Another thing I like to do with my family on the weekends is use this extra time to make a pot roast or roast chicken. These make-ahead proteins can be incorporated into other dishes during the week, like tacos, enchiladas or a Chinese chicken salad for lunch. Cook smarter, not harder.
Just as you spend time on the weekends setting up your kitchen for success, cleanup is an important part of any cooking adventure and can be pretty easy with quality tools like the Bosch dishwasher. With features like the MyWay rack it’s designed to create a home for every puzzle piece of tonight’s dinner – from pots and pans to plates, spatulas and more. A big relief for this busy dad and chef!
What are some tips that you and your family use to make cooking easier? Let us know in the comments below by September 14, 2017 for the chance to win one of two copies of my cookbook, Good Food, Good Life. Bon Appetit!
Curtis Stone is a renowned chef, restaurateur, author, media personality, and a partner of Bosch home appliances. To learn more about Chef Curtis Stone, please visit www.CurtisStone.com.