Home Hack

Creative Grilling

It’s the end of the summer – are you tired of hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill? We’ve got an idea to start grilling creatively this fall:

PIZZA ON THE GRILL!

That’s right pizza! You can make your own dough, or if you want a quicker pizza making experience, pop over to your local Publix bakery for their dough. Ask any bakery worker for it if it’s not easily spotted in the Bakery.

Make sure your grill grate is scraped/cleaned. Use a paper towel to rub a little olive oil on the grate if it is very old or seems dry.

We turn the grill to high and let it pre-heat for about 10 minutes, while we assemble our masterpiece. Then turn down to medium-low for cooking.

 

Sauce, Toppings, Cheese, COOK!

  • Place a little flour on a clean counter and form your pizza shape(s). Publix often have pre-rolled, perfectly shaped pizza doughs for a few cents more than their bagged dough.
  • Design your pizza quickly. We find that the longer your pizza dough sits with sauce on it, the harder it will be to transfer to the grill or oven. If the dough starts to stick, used your hand to try to gently dust some flour underneath it.
Pro Tip: If you have a peel, try creating the pizza right on the peel for easier transfer to the grill. Dust the peel with a little flour before placing the dough on it.
  • Transfer the pizza directly to the grill grate and close the lid. Let it cook for about — minutes before peeking.

If this is your first time with dough on a grill, panic may occur. Imagining all the dough will fall through the grates may lead one to aimlessly try and reposition the raw pizza. Don’t. The dough cooks quickly and sometimes it makes a bigger mess trying to “save” what doesn’t need much saving at all. Pizza on the grill may not always be a perfect circle, but that’s part of the appeal! Burn marks, mis-shaped, thumb print, topping gaps… just call it all “rustic.” 🙃 All pizza making perfection and aesthetics will be worked out in time as you make more pizzas. You’ll get there.

Some Other Grill Alternatives:

  • Calzones or Strombolis – They are kind of like a pizza burritos! Roll your dough out the same way as you would for a pizza, place the toppings and cheese on half. Fold the unused half on top of the made side, and use your fingers to pinch the edges closed. Calzones are typically cheese, ham, and ricotta. Strombolis are usually more toppings and no ricotta. Both are delicious! Serve with the sauce on the side.
  • Dessert Pizza – Try Nutella as the “sauce,” then as the toppings: white chocolate chips, strawberries, blueberries, and bananas.
  • Cherry Turnovers – Use crescent rolls and cherry pie filling to create little calzones. Use a fork to pinch the edges closed. Place them on a grilling sheet, or put a piece of foil down on the grill grate to cook them. Peek after about 2 minutes. Flip.
  • Party S’mores – You create a little s’more sandwich ahead of time, wrap it in foil, then pop them all on the grill at the same time. Place a graham cracker square on a piece of foil. Use Nutella or a like topping to “butter” the cracker, then stick large marshmallows to it. Add a square of chocolate. Top your s’more sandwich with another graham cracker square. Fold the foil over to enclose the s’more and grill away. About 1 minute per side, or longer if you like them extra ooey gooey.
  • Bacon Wrapped Bananas – Yup. Wrap 1/2 a banana up in a slice of bacon and throw it on the grill until the bacon is cooked. Delicious!

What kind of creative things are you cooking on the grill? Share your ideas with us on Facebook and Instagram! @DeAnnaAndCompany

 

 

Home Hack

Hurricane Prep

If you’ve joined us for our “Storm Ready” events, you know D&CO. encourages clients and partners to be proactive with their hurricane preparedness plans. We like building our supplies up month by month, so that if a named storm quickly approaches, we have little we need to rush out and get. These are our hurricane prep basics:

Long BEFORE there’s trouble in paradise…

Gas Can

A good gas can will be VERY hard to find once a storm is named. Buy a quality gas can now to have on hand. When choosing a gas can, walk through the steps of operating it. We have bought at least three in the pandemonium of an approaching hurricane that turned out to be worthless. If you can’t figure out how to open in, fill it, or gas doesn’t flow efficiently or easily it will be nothing but a headache (and potential mess or safety hazard) after the storm.

Pro Tip: Fill the gas can only when you need it. Gas doesn’t last, so don’t fill it and let it sit for months. Purchase only what you need when you need it.

Batteries

This one can be a little tricky. We don’t want to have too many batteries on hand for too long or they may be drained right when we need them most. Invest in batteries with the power level indicator on the side, or a simple battery power tester and verify your power source is good to go before the lights go out. Light and heat are the nemesis of batteries. Store them indoors, in a cool, dry, dark place (like a closet or drawer) to ensure batteries last as long as possible. Modern rechargeable options have come a long way. We’ve found the rechargeable Ikea and Energizer systems work well.

Surge Protector

Start recharging things in advance with a reliable surge protector power strip. A good extension cord also may come in handy.

Rechargeable Accessories

Luckily, we have the wonders of Amazon reviews to help us find good products that actually work. Consider and research rechargeable items like personal fans, battery cells, batteries, flashlights, and even lightbulbs. All of these seemingly minor items will provide comfort should the power go out for a few hours or days.

Canned Goods

A hurricane kit should have enough recently purchased canned goods, non-perishables, and water to last at least three days. (For people and pets.) Consume these items after hurricane season ends in November, or donate them to charity.

Poncho

Hopefully you won’t ever need it, but we pack them in our kit (and have had to use them more times than we’d care to) just in case.

As a storm approaches…

Medication

Call the pharmacy and fill those prescriptions. Check and replenish first aid kits with bandaids, antibiotic cream, and even over the counter headache medicine. Some other items to consider having on hand: bug spray, calamine type lotion, sun block, and antihistamine, to name a few. Just try to think of what you would need if the power goes out and you’re forced to spend more time outdoors or with the windows open.

Gas

  • Dispense gas into safe and approved gas containers only. Take only what you need. There’s no need to panic purchase excess because you are pre-prepared, after all.
  • When we lose power we default to cooking on the grill, so we always make sure we have a fresh propane tank ready to go there too.

Coolers

Wash and ready coolers. Freezing gallon freezer bags with water before the storm can work as make-shift ice packs until you are able to purchase bags of ice after the storm passes.

Pro Tip: If power is lost, keep the fridge and freezer closed to conserve the cold. Instead of endless fridge-gazing, set up a little cooler of commonly accessed items like drinks and snacks to use during the storm.

Charge It!

Charge your phones, radios, tablets, batteries, fans, light bulbs, flashlights, and anything else you will need to pass the time or keep you connected.

Water

In addition to purchasing bottle water or whatever you prefer to drink (you can do this early, as water and beverages have a pretty good shelf life), most homes may need tap water for flushing the toilets. Keep it simple by filling a tub or bucket for various usage as the storm approaches.

Sand Bags

If you have an area of your yard that tends to pool in regular storms, sandbags might be good to have on hand this storm season. Here in Orange County, there are always free sandbag pop-up spots for residents. Check on your local government site or local news channels for free sandbag opportunities and other helpful emergency information.

Central Florida emergency services information links below:

For more ideas and tips on hurricane preparedness, check out our past article “Are You Storm Ready?”

 

Home Hack

Summer Tourist Day Bag

Summer is the most popular time to head out to a Central Florida theme park, festival, fair, concert, or a number of other tourist destinations. We’re sharing what we take with us when we’re in full tourist mode to help us endure the Florida summer elements. We found these items on Amazon.

Get A Comfortable, Dedicated Tourist Bag

All of our favorite “Day Bag” products were purchased on Amazon!

Ditch lugging around your day-to-day purses and bags for a dedicated more travel-friendly option. We pay special attention to reviews and look for bags with a weather resistant material that won’t stick to skin and clothes, making it feel even hotter outside than it already is.

MIni Backpacks

They are like a pumped up purse or a not so clunky traditional backpack. Mini backpacks are all the rage right now because they are light, more comfortable to wear, allow us to be hands free, and come in a range of styles from cute to luxury branded.

Belt Bags

Wether you call them a “belt bag,” “belly bag,” or “waist bag” …yeah, they’re just fancy new ways of saying “fanny packs.” You know them, you love them. They’re the original travel-friendly and hands-free way to be!

Crossbody/Messenger Bags

These bags are great for storing lots of things without the strain of a backpack, but stays put more than a traditional shoulder purse or tote. The little pockets make for built in organizing too.

Our favorite Summer Tourist bags? For theme parks, a Loungefly mini backpack is our go-to bag. They are small enough to manage all day in the park without needing a locker, yet still spacious enough to carry A LOT of necessities, souvineers, and even items (like phones/sunglasses) for others in our group. For general travel, our top pick is a lower profile Vera Bradley cotton crossbody purse. Those bags are perfect for solo adventurers and non-theme park vacationing.

Think SMALL Attachments

Mini carabiners attach items like water bottles, umbrellas, hats, and even bags of souvenirs to your day bag, keeping them ready at a moment’s notice.

Attachable mini water bottles. Having purchased several, our favorite is a mini collapsible sports bottle with a carabiner. It’s made of squishy silicone and is so light we barely know it’s there. We typically bring it empty and fill it at various water bottle stations we find during the day. We’ve also packed it with nothing but ice before we leave so that it’s a source of melting cold water for hours. Remember, whichever bottle you choose, you’ll be lugging it around all day, so small and light is the key.

Attachable mini hand sanitizer. It’s hot and sweaty out there. Keeping this easily accessible will ensure you use it when you should. We prefer the pretty styles and scents from Bath and Body Works. The quality of the bottle and attachment is durable and we’ve never lost one yet!

What’s IN Our Day Bag?

Sunscreen – BRING. THE. SUNSCREEN. You think you won’t need it, but it’s Florida, in the summertime, and you absolutely will need it! Find a small travel bottle(s) of good smelling breathable sunscreen that is rated 50SPF at a minimum. We love Hawaiian Tropic face and body line of sunscreens.

Mini Umbrella – A MUST to provide your own personal shade and to shield yourself from the inevitable afternoon Florida rainstorm.

Hat – If you’re not an umbrella/parasol person, you’re going to need a good hat with a wide brim. We like rough and tumble crushable options that we can wear in the rain, at the pool or ocean, or just walking around the theme parks and then can tuck away into our bags indoors or at night. Keep in mind: visors are not protective hats, and sunburns on the head are no fun at all.

Zip Baggies – We usually have at least one of these in our bag and we always use it. Whether we are packing away left over food, a malfunctioning sunscreen bottle, a wet poncho, or storing masks, a plastic zip baggy really comes in handy!

Personal Fan – A small fan with a BIG breeze is a life saver. I cannot tell you how many times my tiny rechargeable or accordion fan have saved me. I don’t leave home without one! The hands free neck versions are good too, but I think they are better for people with short hair. (Ouch)

Crackers – A pack of peanut butter crackers, or a non-chocolate granola bar endure the heat and tussle of a bag well and come in handy when you’re too tired to wait in another sun-filled line for a snack.

Gingerale – If the venue allows it, we always try to bring a can of gingerale. When we’ve ridden one too many roller coasters or the heat gets to be too much – it’s always the stomach that needs calming. Gingerale always does the trick and helps us cool down too.

Pro Tip: Store chilled cans in a coozie to keep your cold cans from sweating all over the inside of your bag.

Transparent Poncho – A $0.97 emergency poncho will feel like it’s worth a million bucks when you get trapped outdoors in a Florida pop-up storm. Ponchos even come in handy for staying dry on water rides, or in the winter months when we slightly underestimated how cool it was outside. The plastic works just like a wind breaker.

Hair Clip – Just another simple accessory that has saved us time and time again.

Sunglasses – Look cool AND protect eyes from the sun? That’s a win/win!

Pro Tip: Look for “polarized” 100% UV lenses to see easier without strain. Also note, sometimes very cheap and older sunglasses have little to no UV protection. Make sure to look for 100% UV on the label or sticker.

Be Sure to Organize

Even though these day bags are small, if you don’t organize you will be constantly digging around what feels like a black hole – frustratingly not finding anything you need when you need it. Avoid dumping out the contents of your bag every time someone asks for a piece of gum by designating a place for everything you plan to bring along.

Flat Pouch Wallet – You just need the essential cards, cash, and ID’s. Save on space and weight by transferring the necessary cards, cash, and tickets into a low profile insert instead of carting the weight and bulk of your regular wallet.

Small Pouches – Makeup pouches, reusable fabric baggies, even traditional plastic zip bags are a great way to organize the inside of your tourist bag. Think one for sunglasses, one for sunblocks and makeup, one for snacks, one for keys, etc.

Mini Pill Box – We use a micro pill case to pack a first aid kit instead of bringing all of the bottles and boxes. Keep it small: a blister bandaid, a few antacid type chews, ibuprofens, allergy, or any prescriptions needed for the day.

Not feeling the pouches? Try a mini backpack organizer! We found several handmade ones on Etsy.

PRO TIP: Keep the bag light. Only transfer *the essentials* from your day-to-day purse. No one *needs* their miniature photo album in the concrete wilderness of a theme park.

Whether you’re vacationing or just spending a day at the amusement parks, packing a few of these essential comforts can really make the day so much more enjoyable. Happy Summer, everyone!

Home Hack

Fireworks in Central Florida

Many cities are back to pre-pandemic Fourth of July celebrations this year. Here’s a list to help plan where and how to enjoy fireworks, with options for celebrating on the holiday weekend before, and on Monday, July 4th too!

BEFORE YOU GO: Be sure to verify on the city’s event pages for location, time, schedule updates, cancellations, or changes.

CELEBRATIONS ON THIS WEEKEND:

WINTER GARDEN

City of Winter Garden’s Red White and Blues on the Plaza music night.

Where: Centennial Plaza, W. Plant Street in Historic Downtown

When: 7:00 – 9PM, Fri. July 1

City of Winter Garden’s Independence Day Celebration, live music, kids crafts, family games on the lawn.

Where: Downtown Pavilion, 104 S. Lakeview Avenue

When: 8:00AM – 1PM, Sat. July 2

OVIEDO

Year after year, there’s a great City of Oviedo Independence Day Celebration and fireworks at the Oviedo Mall. There are $20 advance purchase wristbands available that includes unlimited rides and attractions.

Where: 1700 Oviedo Mall Boulevard Oviedo, FL 32765

When: 5:00 – 9PM Sat. July 2

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS

Red Hot and Boom concert event. Admission is free. Vendors, food, beverages available for purchase. This event is put on by the radio station XL106.7 and a lot of local businesses and is known for being a concert day of nationally recognized and up-and-coming music artists.

Where: Cranes Roost Park, Altamonte Springs

When: 4:00 – 11PM Sun. July 3


FIREWORKS ON THE ACTUAL DAY:

DOWNTOWN ORLANDO:

Fireworks at the Fountain. Vendors, food, live entertainment, and family fun

Where: 512 East Washington Street, Orlando, FL (Lake Eola)

When: 4:00 – 10PM Mon. July 4

APOPKA:

Vendors, food, live music, family fun at the beautiful Apopka Amphitheater.

Where: Apopka Amphitheater, 3710 Jason Dwelley Pkwy, Apopka,FL

When: 6:00 – 9PM, Mon. July 4

WINTER GARDEN:

City of Winter Garden’s Party in the Park fireworks celebration

Where: 29 W. Garden Avenue, Winter Garden, FL

When: 6 – 9:15PM, Mon. July 4 

CLERMONT:

City of Clermont Red White and Boom at Waterfront Park. Food trucks, live music, and fireworks of Lake Minneola.

Where: 330 3rd St, Clermont, FL

When: 7 – 10PM, Mon. July 4 

LEESBURG:

City of Leesburg July Fourth Celebration. Baseball, kids zone, live music, and fireworks at Venetian Gardens.

Where: 201 E Dixie Ave, Leesburg, FL (North Shore of Lake Harris)

When: 7 – 11:30PM, Mon. July 4

TAVARES:

City of Tavares Independence Day Celebration at Lake County Historic Courthouse. Street party, seaplanes, parade, kids activities until 6:30, and fireworks at 9.

Where: 317 W Main St, Tavares, FL

When: 4:45 – 6:30PM, and 9PM Mon. July 4


NON-FIREWORKS FUN

For those who do not enjoy fireworks, there are lots of day time festivities before nighttime fireworks. Most of the hours-long events above have fair-like activities, vendors, entertainment, and concerts during the day.

The city of WINTER PARK has no mention of fireworks on their website for their Annual 4th of July Celebration event for 9AM-12PM, with a decorated bike ride parade starting at 11:30AM in Martin Luther King Jr. Park and Community Playground. Free treats while supplies last, live music, and a kids fun zone. More information on Winter Park’s event page.

Where: 255 South Denning Drive, Winter Park, Florida

When: 9AM-12PM Mon. July 4

The city of WINTER GARDEN has no mention of fireworks on their website for their weekend and Monday morning celebration events:
City of Winter Garden’s Red White and Blues on the Plaza blues music night.

Where: Centennial Plaza, W. Plant Street in Historic Downtown

When: 7:00 – 9PM, Fri. July 1

City of Winter Garden’s Independence Day Celebration – live music, kids crafts, family games on the lawn.

Where: Downtown Pavilion, 104 S. Lakeview Avenue

When: 8:00AM – 1PM, Sat. July 2

City of Winter Garden’s All American Kids Parade and Breakfast-free breakfast for kids, adult breakfast available for purchase, entertainment and activities for kids. Family parade with free decoration station for bikes, scooters, wagons, and even feet for those who would like to join the parade.

Where: Winter Garden Masonic Lodge No. 165, 230 W. Bay Street

When: 8:00AM – 10:30AM, Mon. July 4


THEME PARK HOPPING

If you are in the mood to make a day of it at the theme parks, all of these Central Florida favorites mention specific “Fourth of July” fireworks on their websites. Universal Studios is even setting up a specific party zone and time for the holiday! 

EPCOT Walt Disney World,  Mon. July 4

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World, Mon. July 4

Universal Studios Orlando Mon. July 4,  party is from 5PM to 9PM

SeaWorld Orlando Mon. July 4

Fun Spot locations in Orlando and Kissimmee, website lists fireworks display is specifically for the Fourth of July, Mon. July 4 at 9PM

Home Hack

Meal Subscription Review: Hello Fresh

There are so many meal services to choose from, but none of their websites make it very clear what to expect. In fact, most sites felt like there was no information at all besides “Here is food – sign up now!” We hope to make things a little clearer for anyone out there trying to explore and compare different meal service subscriptions.

Today, we’re reviewing DeAnna’s favorite meal service: HELLO FRESH! (And sharing the recipe for the HF meal she made last night too.)

We first reviewed EveryPlate, which we found to be one of the most affordable services. You can read our review on that here: EveryPlate.

We learned that EveryPlate is a sister company to Hello Fresh, so it is no wonder we like them both. In comparing the two, we like to think of Hello Fresh as the older, fancier, often more sophisticated sister with her home completely organized and her life together. 😂 While both services are wonderful and produce delicious meals, there’s more attention to the details in Hello Fresh meal choices and the delivery method that makes it our number one choice, despite the small difference in price.

What to Expect

Your chosen meals will arrive like clockwork in a big Hello Fresh box full of fresh goodness. If you forget to choose your meals for the week, the algorithm will choose for you. Be sure to learn your “choose-by-day” deadline so that you can avoid any unwanted meals, or if you like to be surprised, let it roll the dice! From the HF website: “Choose from 50 weekly menu + market items including vegetarian, kid-approved and low calorie meals, crafted and curated by our chefs. Add ready to eat salads, sandwiches, soups and many more options.”

We were nervous about the “serving size” before we started Hello Fresh, but trust that these are real-life servings. The portions are generous enough that we finish it all and never find ourselves hungry after a HF meal. Your delivery options are available with as few as 2 servings (for 2 people), which make it ideal for a couple or a single who likes to have leftovers. If you have a family or roommates, the meals can be ordered in as many as 4 servings (for 4 people) too.

Ingredients Arrive Pre-Sorted and Measured

The sorted packaging is THE BEST. Instead of each ingredient being dumped into the box all jumbled together, Hello Fresh pre-measures and separates each meal’s ingredients into separate bags. The bags store well in the fridge and make it so easy to grab and go. You’d think things being separated out wouldn’t matter much, but it saves a lot of time in the prep-work stage. We also love that spices are included in the exact amount needed for the recipe.

Directions Are Easy

Directions are on a large card that is easy to read and understand. Ingredients and a meal photo are shown on the front of the card with directions on the back. The directions are separated out into bite-sized steps (see what we did there? 😁) which keep us from getting overwhelmed. The meal cards make it possible to re-create any meal on your own with store-bought ingredients.

PRO TIP: Hole punch and store your favorite meal cards in a 3-ring binder to make on your own in the future.

Our Favorite Feature

One of our favorite things Hello Fresh offers are the fancier add-on meal options. You can add meals to your plan at any point. Sometimes they are themed and offered around celebrations like Super Bowl, or they might just be something fancy like wood-plank salmon. We also love the variety of different bowl-type meals they offer regularly too!

Pause or Cancel

When you have a busy week or holiday plans Hello Fresh allows you to change the delivery day, or even skip a week. HF also allows us to cancel at any time and pick up again in a few weeks or months. We’ve typically skipped weeks when we are super busy, but have even cancelled when we will be on vacation, when family is visiting for an extended period, or even just to change things up for a bit. It’s never been a problem to stop and start the service again. In fact, it’s super quick to pick right back up because all of your preferences remain in your account.

Customer Service

Hello Fresh customer service is great too – they are very quick to correct and compensate for any issues.

Now, the potential cons of this meal service.

  • Many meals require a bit of chopping and prepping. Often the prep-work takes us longer than the cooking part. We don’t mind this feature, but can see how some might not enjoy that.
  • These are not pre-prepared meals you just pop in the oven. These meals are made – by you – from scratch. Meaning, from chopping the measured-out fresh ingredients, mincing, zesting, adding, stirring, sautéing, boiling… to the finished meal, you make it. Again, we like this feature because we love to cook, but can see where it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
  • Hello Fresh is not the cheapest meal service option, but we find the attention to details to be well worth the price. HF is cheaper and healthier than dining out, so again, we don’t find this to be a con but can see where people might. If more affordable is a must, see our review of EveryPlate meal subscription service. It’s like a lite version of the Hello Fresh experience.

Do you have a different meal service? Share your pros/cons/experience with us in the comments of our social media for this article. We’d love to hear about it!

Instagram and Facebook:

@DeAnnaAndCompany

*Note: This article is not a paid advertisement or endorsement. We really have a subscription and have enjoyed the meals and service!*

Home Hack

Kitchen Gadgets Worth Owning

OUR BEST KITCHEN FINDS!

Over the years we have bought or have been gifted our fair share of kitchen gadgets. In truth, 80% of them are nonsense space hogs. You know the ones, they either didn’t work as advertised, or sit on the counter or in a cabinet taking up space for YEARS with no use. However, today we are sharing our absolute FAVORITE kitchen gadgets that were well worth the money for how often we use them and how great of quality they are! The best part: we found all of them are available on Amazon! Three cheers for one-stop shopping!

The Prepdeck

prepdeck meal prep

This is a life saver if you cook a lot, and especially handy if you have a meal service or follow written recipes. This self-storing stylish cubby is a cutting board, ingredient sorter, tool hub, and even holds the the stems and ends you cut off from your produce, so you’re not combating the trash while you cook. You can even add on an attachment to hold an ipad for your recipes if that’s how you roll. It’s pricey but comes with a bunch of tools, bins, and a magnetic removable cutting board. The whole thing stores away in a sleek and minimalist manner, so it will look cute on the counter too!

Cuisinart “ICE” line of ice cream makers

CuisinArt ice cream and frozen yogurt maker

This is THE BEST ice cream maker we have ever used. If you are venturing into home made ice cream, this one is a must! Don’t get fancy or be fooled by bells and whistles, the “ICE” line is a simple machine and is the absolute best at churning out delicious ice cream /frozen yogurt/ sorbet. (Ours is a Cuisinart ICE-20.) It’s worth noting: This machine even won in a crowd and chef-based test among several competitor brands and more expensive models on The American Test Kitchen!

pizza peelAluminum Pizza Peels

If you make pizza often, frozen, fresh, or from scratch – a pizza peel is a must! A thin (but sturdy) metal peel transfers items to and from the oven with ease. We use it for pizza, calzones, breads, and anything else that bakes straight on the rack. We even use a peel to retrieve cooked pies.

PRO TIP: Make sure you pick one with a solid handle, none of those collapsing, folding, and/or bolting handles – pizzas can get heavy so you want one solid wood piece for the handle.

Pizza Stones

pizza stone

Do you make your own pizza? A REAL (thick) pizza stone will make it bake evenly every time. No more mystery moistness in the under crust. It will be crisp and perfect.

Teak and Wooden Spoons

wooden kitchen utensils

We are firm believers in the power of baking and cooking with wooden utensils. It magically makes things feel more special and they look great arranged in a vase on the counter.

make veggie noodlesZucchini Spiralizer

If you have ever thought of cutting back on your traditional pasta intake, or wanted to incorporate more vegetables into your diet, a vegetable spiralizer is the way to go! They make fancy expensive ones, attachments for Kitchenaid mixers, but my go-to is the “as seen on tv” “Veggetti” version. It takes up hardly any space, is inexpensive, and allows me to make “zoodles” at a moment’s notice, with no prep at all. One end makes thin noodles and the other makes thicker. You just stick the vegetable in one side and turn it like you’re sharpening a pencil.

Pyrex Bakeware and Storage Sets

pyrex

It can be pricey for a good set, but you will buy it once and use it for YEARS! Our Pyrex is 20 years old and still going strong! These glass dishes are great for storing left overs, cooking in, and serving too. It’s also an environmentally friendly storage option because it’s reusable and made from glass. NOTE: If you ever happen upon the vented lid versions – those lids have all lasted the 20 years and are still going strong. The plain lids bit the dust after 10 years or so – but that’s still a good run for the money!

PRO TIP: Tomato sauces and plastic lids (or bowls) are not friends. Keep lids stain-free by simply spraying the lids with cooking spray before you cover any tomato-based dishes and it will resist staining.

And now for a whole section of KitchenAid. My motto is when in doubt, choose the KitchenAid! It’s never let me down.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

kitchenaid mixer

There’s a reason you see these everywhere. They really work, and work well. They look cute on the counter too!

KitchenAid Blender

kitchenaid blender

I was torn between this and another top brand, and I am SO glad I chose this one. It blends consistently, is reliable, and doesn’t have a million blades to clean.

KitchenAid Mini Food Processor

kitchenaid mini

This thing is great for making small-batch dressings, dips, or mincing vegetables, I’ve even used it for chopping nuts!

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets? Let us know your kitchen and cooking related must-haves in the comments on our social media:

@DeAnnaAndCompany on Instagram and Facebook

Home Hack

Spring Clean: Organize the Refrigerator

Ease into Spring cleaning by starting with the fridge. Begin by emptying anything perishable into coolers and work fast to wipe down the shelves, drawers, and doors. To deep clean drawers or shelves, a little regular dish soap and water works great. Food prep surface wipes have also been our favorite tool for cleaning up in a flash. The wipes were even durable enough to work on a full bottle of barbecue sauce that had somehow exploded in the night. Just make sure the wipes you are using are “food safe” and not a bunch of harsh chemicals that will linger in your fridge and possibly contaminate your open fruits and vegetables.

What storage is best for what groceries?

clear storage for fridge

Clear containers are the BEST way to organize the refrigerator. They come in refrigerator-safe carousels, mini drawers, pint boxes, stackable boxes, beverage dispensers and more. These clear bins are very trendy right now, so they can be pricy. Shop around for the best deals/bundles and buy ones that will work for your grocery habits. Start by taking an assessment of what groceries you repeatedly purchase, then purchase storage best suited for those specific items. We found all of the options shown in this article on Amazon.

clear storage for fridge

Stackable boxes are great for fruits and vegetables. Narrow open boxes are great for snacks or other items you buy in bulk like individual yogurt, fruit cups, cheeses, etc.

PRO TIP: When storing leafy greens, pop a few paper towels in with it to help keep them fresher for longer. Works in bagged or clamshell container lettuce and spinach too.

clear fridge drawers stackable

Mini drawers are great for dividing up larger open shelves with go-to items. Try dedicating a whole drawer to things that you like to access a lot, or are bulky, or roll around. (This would be grapes, tangerines, and apples for us.)

condiment carousel

 

Carousels are perfect for high-traffic condiments, dressings, and jarred items.

Create your “store.”

fridge storage map

 

Organize your fridge for how you actually live. Place perishable items in places you see straight away so you don’t forget about them. Stock like items together to make things easier to find. For example, dedicate a drawer, bin, or space to vegetables, meats, fruits, dairy, snacks, beverages, etc.

When it comes to jars, separate the sweet things from the savory things. (Jams on one side, pickles on another.) Categorize the condiments so all the dressings are together, all the sandwich making things are together, all of your most-used sauces are together, etc.

Labels the bins, ditch the tins.

decorative food labels

Labels are great for keeping things in their assigned places. Labels can be especially helpful with little ones or adults that get confused about what goes where.

Toss bulky packaging on items that you can use a labeled open bin for. For example, my husband’s Reeses cups get stacked into a narrow open container instead of staying in bags. Makes them easier to grab and go and easier to refill too.

No bins? Use a bag!

reusable food bags

Freezer bags are a great way to start organizing on a budget. Take-out condiment packets, snack assortments for individuals, meats, cheeses, meal prep… all fit perfectly into gallon bags and keep loose items from slipping and sliding around.

Don’t get overwhelmed – ANY level of organization is progress. Start small if you need to.