Does waking up at the crack of dawn to pack lunchboxes sound familiar? Try these hacks to ease into the 2022 school routine.
- Do some prep on a Sunday: make a batch of hummus, pack small containers with nuts and biltong, and fry chicken strips to use in sandwiches and wraps.
- Always have eggs in the house. A boiled egg is a pocket-friendly way to keep those hunger pangs at bay.
- Use cookie cutters to cut fresh fruit and veggies into shapes. The prettier they are, the greater the chance your fussy eater will tuck in.
Print out a stash of lunchbox notes and jokes and pop them into your kids’ lunchboxes. You’ll add a bit of fun to their day.
Breeze through the holidays
Take things easy this December with our tried-and-tested tips:
- Don’t try to go it alone. SA’s “bring-and-braai” culture is popular for a reason! Ask friends and family to all contribute to the festive table.
- Eating at the in-laws and bringing mains and dessert? Get yourself a big, plastic storage container and use a cooling rack to transport one dish on top of another.
- Roast chicken is one of the easiest ways to satisfy a hungry horde. If you’re pressed for time, rather roast two smaller birds instead of a single, large one.
- Plan, make a list, and go shopping for several days’ meals. Who wants to spend hours in the shops when you could be lounging in the sun?
- Sometimes the simplest meals are the tastiest ones. Why spend hours prepping dauphinoise potatoes when the family will enjoy buttery, braaied corn on the cob just as much?
Be the host with the most
Entertaining a crowd while cooking a feast can be tricky! We share a few tried-and-tested tips:
- Roast a whole chicken breast-side down for two-thirds of the cooking time. This step allows for all the juices to run down into the breast meat, keeping it moist. Once you’re ready to crisp the skin, carefully turn the chicken around and roast until golden.
- Always rest roasted chicken before serving. Loosely cover the meat with a piece of tin foil or kitchen cloth, and let the chicken sit for about 15-20 minutes before tucking in.
- Serving chicken pieces makes for a leisurely buffet-style feast. As the chicken is already portioned, it’s also easy to ensure there’s more than enough food to go around.
- The most critical thing about braaiing chicken is the temperature of the coals. Chicken is best cooked over moderately hot coals.
Worried about serving undercooked chicken? Par-cook the meat in the microwave or oven and brown the chicken on the braai to get delicious, crispy skin.
You don’t always have to do exactly what the recipe says. It’s all about knowing what you can substitute when.
- The recipe calls for rice vinegar, but you only have wine vinegar in the house. They do differ, yes, but they can be switched out if you’re in a pickle.
- Fresh out of sesame oil? If you’re frying at a high temperature, peanut oil works just as well.
- Forgot to put fresh chillies and garlic on your grocery list? Don’t stress – simply use dried chilli and garlic flakes.
- If you only have a lemon in the house and the recipe calls for a lime, relax. Use the lemon instead.
Top tips for cooking with chilli
Chillies may be small, but they pack a punch and can elevate the simplest chicken dishes. Here’s how to use them in your cooking:
- Always slice chillies open lengthwise, remove the seeds, and finely chop.
- Don’t be too enthusiastic. Add chilli in small increments and taste as you go.
- Add chilli to your breakfast eggs or omelette. They’ll wake you up!
- Cool your dishes down by serving yoghurt on the side. Dairy counteracts capsaicin, the active (hot) compound in chilli.
- Take it from us: Never touch your eyes or nose after working with chilli.
What’s for lunch, Mom?
Freshen up your kids’ lunchboxes with these fabulous new takes on the chicken sandwich:
- Chicken mayo with carrot strips, cucumber half-moons and gherkins for extra crunch.
- Shredded roast chicken with crispy bacon bits, sweetcorn and cream cheese.
- Sliced, cooked chicken breasts with grated cheddar cheese and basil pesto.
- Chicken nuggets, lettuce and bread cubes, threaded onto kebab sticks.
- Caprese snackwiches with chicken strips, mozzarella, tomato slices and basil leaves.
Savoury waffle sandwiches with chicken steaklets, mayo and salad greens.
Pantry staples for cooler days
Nobody feels like doing a grocery run when it’s raining or freezing. Here’s a handy checklist of what to keep in your kitchen pantry to minimise those last-minute trips:
Eat fresh, local and seasonal
Using the seasons as your guide for purchasing fresh produce is healthy, delicious and economical.
When you buy fresh, local produce at the time that it’s harvested, you’re purchasing foods that are high in nutrients, delicious, and usually a lot cheaper than foods that have travelled far.
It’s also a great way of supporting the producers in your area. Plus, if you buy local, you’ll be doing the planet a favour (no fuel-guzzling air miles to get the food from the farm to your table).
Pair your fresh chicken with these wonderful ingredients this autumn. Right now, they’re in peak supply:
Veggies: Aubergines, beetroot, cauliflower, baby marrows, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, pumpkin.
Fruit: Avocados, figs, grapes, pears, plums, pineapples, apples.
3 ways to lock in freshness!
Keep your favourite cooking ingredients fresher for longer with these easy tips every foodie should know.
Tip #1: Shopping for fresh chicken? When buying chicken, make sure the package feels cold to the touch, and that it’s one of the last items you select before checking out. Once you’re home, place your chicken in the refrigerator as soon as you return to ensure the temperature stays consistent.
Tip #2: Give root veggies a longer shelf-life. Potatoes and sweet potatoes make for fantastic sides. Store these nutritious carbs in a cool, dark place with relatively high humidity. And remember to keep them separate from onions, bananas and other ethylene-producing foods.
Tip #3: Storing pantry staples. The key to keeping onions and garlic fresher for longer is not to refrigerate them. Keep them in a cool, dark place with low humidity, and make sure there’s good circulation. Also remember that they don’t like potatoes and sweet potatoes, so keep these foods elsewhere.