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What Made Your List?

New Years Resolutions

Eating Healthy.  Saving Money.  Getting Into Shape.  Taking A Painting Class.  Spending More Time With Family……

What made your list this year?

As a busy mom, many of our New Year’s Resolutions can relate back to family dinners.  Even if your goal is to train for a triathlon, finding the time to do so will require cutting back on time spent elsewhere.  You can’t cut family dinners out of your schedule when pressed for time, but you can find ways to spend less time on family dinners, thereby freeing up your day to check off that long list.

Meatloaf Recipe

Here are more examples of how tackling the chore of family dinners by making it simple and organized will help keep you on track with your New Years resolutions:

Saving Money

Whether you’re wanting to pay off credit card debt or save money for that dream vacation, family dinnertime is a good place to start by looking for ways to spend less.  Eating out less is one way to start spending less on family dinners, but there are also ways to cut back on your grocery bills, like through meal planning with The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System.

Grocery Store Driveby Trap from The Organized Cook

Saving Time

Finding the time to fulfill the long list of other resolutions on your list probably requires the commodity of time.  For me, time is my most precious resource and is rationed carefully to ensure my New Year’s intentions, priorities- and yes, resolutions, are met.  This is where meal planning comes in. Through careful planning and organization of my weekly family dinner menu, I have time to do the things I love to do (and the things I don’t love to do, but need to do).

10-minute meal from The Organized Cook

Making Dinner

Eating healthy is always high on my list of priorities, not only at New Year, but throughout the year.  Staying out of the drive-thru and preparing healthy, home cooked meals for my family is my solution.  However, it’s not always that easy.

Portabella and Steak Stroganoff Recipe by Toni Spilsbury

Meal Planning

Here are some simple tips used in The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System to help you reach those goals for 2012:


Have A Plan

Most moms tell me that “just knowing what to make” is one of their biggest challenges when it comes to preparing family dinner.  Having your family dinner menu planned in advance will help the week run so much smoother.  Without a plan, many moms get caught in the “Grocery Store Drive-By Trap” and end up running to the grocery store daily which ends up costing more time in the end, not to mention more money.

meal planning with The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System

Make A List


Defend yourself against impulse buying by arming yourself with a grocery list.  By making a list and grocery shopping only once a week, you’re saving yourself money by decreasing your exposure to impulse buying.

meal planning with The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System

Cooking Methods

In The Organized Cook, I take the task of meal planning a few steps further by planning and organizing my weekly family dinners in a way that reduces waste and saves time, like Reusing Time and Reincarnating The Leftover.

Reusing Time

If I’m going to steam rice to serve with my Thai Shrimp Curry, I’ll cook twice as much as I need and store the extra rice to use later on in the week in a Pork Fried Rice or Spanish Fried Rice.  By planning my meals using this method, I’m making my time have double its value.  Not to mention, that’s one less pan to clean!

Pork Fried Rice recipe

Reincarnating The Leftover

If your family is like my family, they don’t like to eat leftovers.  So what you’re left with at the end of the week is a lot of food to throw out.

Not only do I use my leftovers, I actually plan my weekly family dinner menu so that I intentionally have leftovers.  For example, when I saute chicken to make Chicken Madeira, I’ll cook more than I need and store the extra cooked chicken to use later on in the week for another recipe like Tomato Basil & Chicken Penne or Chicken Enchiladas.  I slice up leftover London Broil and store to make French Dip Sandwiches the next day.

By reincarnating my leftover food, dinner takes just a few minutes some nights.

Italian Baked Chicken recipe

Italian Baked Chicken

Chicken Asparagus Wraps

Italian Baked Chicken reincarnated into Chicken Asparagus Wraps


The Organized Cook is making it easy this year to stay and track with New Year’s Resolutions and is offering the Weekly Meal Plan System at 50% off in January only.

meal planning with The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System

Saving time this New Year will help me reach more of my goals on my resolution list.


New Year’s Resolution Twitter Party

Thursdays just got more organized.  Each Thursday The Organized Cook and our panel discuss topics related to meal planning, cooking, recipes, organization and busy family life during our #mealplanning Twitter Party. twitter party

Join us this Thursday, January 5th to discuss “What Made Your List”!



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Summer Garden Herbs Are Here. Now What?

Storing Fresh Herbs

Herbs have been abundant this summer and I’ve enjoyed using them in my kitchen.  I’m producing more herbs than I can possibly use, so I’m looking at other ways to use them store for later use.

Herb Garden


Sure I could make pesto and freeze it in baby food jars, and that’s a great option.  I could also give fresh herbs away to friends.

But here’s what I decided to do this year.

Just about every soup, saute or sauce begins with the combination of  butter, olive oil and garlic.  With some herbs adding fresh flavor to the mix, I would have a head start in the kitchen by making Herb Ice Cubes.

By mixing fresh chopped fresh herbs with melted butter, olive oil and garlic and freezing in ice cube trays, cooking over the Fall and Winter will still taste like Spring.



Store Fresh Herbs Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook


During a recent cooking demonstration in front of a live audience, I began my instructions for a saute and paused, “this is normally when I tell you to heat some olive oil, butter and garlic in a saute pan”.  Noelle, my producer, looked a little puzzled as I went on, “but let me show you my ice cubes full of these staples with some added basil, parsley and chives.”  The audience loved it.

It’s simple to do.  For a printable recipe for storing fresh herbs, visit Herb Ice Cubes Recipe.  Or, you can follow my photo tutorial below.


Fresh Parley Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

Fresh Parsley

Fresh Basil Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

Fresh Basil

Fresh Chives Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

Fresh Chives. You don’t need all three- any combination or just one herb will do.

Fresh Herbs Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook


Fresh Herbs Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

melt butter

Fresh Herbs Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

add garlic

Fresh Herbs Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

add olive oil

Fresh Herbs Storage Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

pour into ice cube tray

Fresh Herbs Storage Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

place in freezer

Fresh Herbs Storage Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

use cubes for sautes, soups or sauces; 1 cube – 1 tablespoon


Check out a simple recipe for using Herb Ice Cubes, in Summer Herb Potatoes:

Herb Potatoes by Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

Summer Herb Sauteed Potatoes


Herb Storage

Herb Storage

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Sorry, Julia. We Moms Don’t Have the Time.

Did you have a chance to see the movie Julie and Julia?  It is a great movie about a modern-day girl, Julie, cooking her way through Julia Child’s famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

I have cooked many recipes from this book and it’s an all-day event.  The dinners are fabulous, but this type of cooking is just not practical for us modern-day busy moms.  For many of us, gone are the Julia Child days when stay-at-home moms had all day to prepare a fabulous French dinner while sipping highballs, smoking a cigarette and watching Days of Our Lives in our pearls.  Today, our lives are busier than ever. What Julia Child did in the mid-1900s by bringing fabulous French cooking to the housewife, I aim to do by bringing clarity, simplicity and organization to the busy modern-day mom in The Organized Cook™.




Ratatouille.  I made this vegetable dish and loved it.  Unfortunately, incorporating this gourmet recipe into my weekly meal planning as a side dish wasn’t practical because it took up too much of my time.  So, I figured if there were a way to combine a ratatouille into a main dish with a steak or chicken- and add a few short-cuts- it may work.  What I got from my culinary  experiment was one of my family’s favorite dinners: Toni’s Ratatouille Pan-Simmered Steak.  I didn’t even use seasoning with this dish because after it has simmered for an hour with eggplant, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes, it has such a fresh flavor.

I’ll keep experimenting in the kitchen on new family dinner favorites while finding new ways on how to save my valuable time and money at the  grocery store.  Learn more about how The Organized Cook™ can help you.





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Family Dinner: Planning Ahead

When it comes to cooking family dinner, planning ahead will save us time and money.

At a recent presentation with a room full of busy moms, I asked how many of them made daily trips to the grocery store for family dinner due to lack of planning.  All but a couple raised their hand.  “Just think of all the time you could save”, I said, “by just having a plan.”

Unfortunately, many of us simply do not have the time it takes to do the planning and organization; but then we end up spending more time in the end scrambling for last-minute solutions- not to mention- more money.

If you’re one of those busy moms, and want to save time and money on your family dinners, let The Organized Cook do the planning for you.

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