In Episode 9: Quick & Easy Dinner Hacks of the Healthy Family Project podcast, we sat down with our friend and longtime Produce for Kids blog contributor, Aggie of Aggie’s Kitchen, to swap easy dinner hacks! Aggie shared her tips for leftovers, pantry staples, kitchen gadget must-haves, and more.
Aggie Goodman, of Aggie’s Kitchen, is an active mom of three who’s always thinking about the next meal. Her kitchen is her “happy place” where she can relax and do what she loves to do: feed her family and friends. Aggie loves to cook with simple fresh ingredients, focusing on health, ease, and of course, taste – especially these days as her family grows and life gets busier.
When she’s not cooking or on her laptop, she’s most likely running around with her kids, getting in a good workout, finding peace in a book or getting her hands dirty in her garden.
Quick & Easy Dinner Hacks
Aren’t we all looking to shave some time off in our kitchen and in our meal prep? Yes! That is why we have been focusing on meal prep, planning, and tips and tricks from the pros! The more helpful tips we have to share with you can help you spend more quality time with your family. After all, that’s what its all about.
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Listen to Episode 9: Quick & Easy Dinner Hacks
Want to skip straight to a hot topic? See time stamps below. But of course, we recommend listening all the way through!
- 1:51 Meet Aggie
- 5:37 Weeknight dinner hacks to save time Favorite weeknight dinner hacks
- 7:03 Pantry staples
- 9:24 Must-have kitchen appliances and tools
- 12:54 Tips for leftovers
- 16:24 Freezer meals
- 20:44 How to get the kids involved in the kitchen
- 50 Easy Dinners Under 30 Minutes
- Instant Pot Tips for Beginners
- 25 Healthy OnePot Meals to Get Dinner on the Table Quickly
- Easy Weeknight Dinners
- Kid-friendly Kitchen Tasks for Every Age
- Healthy Habit: Weekly Salad Prep
Products Mentioned (Affiliate Links)
- Slow Cooker – this one lets you sear meat on the stovetop before slow cooking!
- Kid-Safe Nylon Knife Set
- Air Fryer
- Instant Pot
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Transcript for Episode 9
This transcript was produced by Otter.Ai. Please forgive any misspellings and grammatical errors.
Welcome to the healthy family project by produce for kids, covering the hot topics in the world of health,
food and family with a dose of fun. Welcome, everyone. First, I must say the power, your lunchbox
promise is going strong. Thanks to all of you. If you haven’t visited power your lunchbox.com and made
the promise to eat healthier this school year, you need to get over there ASAP. We have about two
weeks left to make the promise and make a difference. One of our power your lunchbox, friends and
supporters, longtime supporters, I might add is Aggie Goodman of Aggies kitchen, who we will be
chatting with today. So I’ve known Aggie for a while now and Phil so just really fortunate to have met her
years ago at a food conference, you know, just one of those moments where you sit at a table with
someone and start a conversation and you know, right away that that it’s going to go somewhere. And at
just from that point on she has been so supportive of our mission at produce for kids to create a healthier
generation is one of our blog contributors. You’ll find her recipes throughout our recipe bank on the site.
And she’s just been a pleasure to work with and we’ve been able to learn so much from each other. So
with back to school, that also means back to weeknight dinners, and we hope that our conversation with
Aggie today can help make that as easy, delicious and fast Of course as possible. So Aggies here today
to help us with that. She’s the mom of three active kids, two of which are our teenagers at this point and
a foodie at heart she grew up in an Italian household, there’s no was no sort of shortage of homemade
sauces and dishes to be enjoyed. It wasn’t until she was pregnant with her first child that she discovered
her love of cooking. And I’m glad she did. Her focus is on using healthy fresh and whole ingredients. And
her simple dishes are easy to recreate, even if you’re new to cooking. So let’s get chatting with Aggie
Hi, Aggie Welcome to the healthy family project.
Hey there. Thanks for having me.
We’re so excited to talk to you today. So before we dive into all these great quick and easy dinner hacks,
can you tell us a little bit about Aggies kitchen and what inspired you to create your website?
Yes, totally, I started I use kitchen as a blog. So 10 years ago this summer, actually. And it’s kind of crazy
to me, because my kids were I only have two kids at the time. And they were three and one. And so I
was like a totally new mom. And I didn’t start the blog for any other reason than to just have a place to
put recipes because I was cooking a lot. And a lot of my friends who like to cook, we were exchanging a
lot of recipes. And it was just kind of like a fun new thing to start a blog, which I knew nothing about at
the time. But once I started it, I loved it. And it just it kind of just organically grew from there. So and you
know, once, once I started in met other bloggers, it became more of like, even an online community. So it
started off as kind of a place to share with my friends and then totally went off and became this awesome
Well, congratulations on 10 years. And I have to say with other other guests who have been on the
podcast, we’ve kind of talked about their inspiration behind their websites or their business. And it’s funny
because so many say always, I just really started as a place to share information back and forth with you
know, other parents or, you know, I started as this this community so that we could interact. And so it’s
just wonderful that you know, your site and so many other sites have grown from, you know, that I read a
book called utility. So I always say it’s like you if you’re useful, you know, it grows, if you’re a if your
inspiration is to be useful and to share information, it’ll grow into something authentically. So
congratulations. Yeah, yeah.
And that’s absolutely true. Because, I mean, there was no intention behind it other than sharing and, you
know, talking about food, so and then, you know, just figure out along the way that there’s other people
out there that are looking for the same stuff, and then you, you kind of just, you know, feed off of each
other. So it’s pretty cool.
Exactly. So let’s start off with an easy question. You know, we’re in this back to school world right now.
And of course, we’re all cooking dinners over the summer, probably not the same as our weekly school
night dinner. But we are looking to get some insight hacks from you on how to make our weeknights a
little easier. So tell us what are your favorite hacks for saving time in the kitchen? And then, I guess if you
want to answer both questions at once, do you opt for pre cut veggies salad kits or keep your pantry
stocked with certain staples? What are the hacks? What are the secrets?
So along the way, I’ve figured out that if I plan ahead, obviously, like everyone else, if you plan ahead,
things just run a little bit smoother. So what I like to do is see what’s on sale as far as pre cut veggies
because they are definitely a timesaver no matter what. So if I see some of those bagged veggies, the
mixed ones, the broccoli, you know, I, I definitely like to pick those up and then kind of plan meals around
them, like whether it’s a stir fry, or throwing it in with pasta, and like a protein. So I definitely like em all
about the pre cut veggies. I like cutting my own veggies. But reality is I just don’t have the time all the
time. And, you know, if I can get a shortcut that way that there’s I have nothing, there’s no problem with
that at all. So I definitely try to play around like sales Salika to become my friendly lean, you know, three
out of five of us in our family love to eat salad. So it’s been fun to try different salads. And to like just add
them on as a quick side or to add like protein to it. And then you mentioned pantry and pantry is always a
big deal for me too, because I have like a nice stocked pantry and it’s definitely been my saving grace for
many, many, many nights. Pasta I always have like, you know, a ton of different kinds of pasta, rice and
like couscous and quinoa, like things that you know, can last for a long time. And like canned tomatoes,
beans, so the all that kind of stuff. Definitely, if you need to just throw something together or you know,
just for a quick meal or add to a meal. Like all that stuff comes in handy.
Yes, I’ve found over the years I have definitely identified a lot of those staples myself where I’m like,
Alright, I know if I have these things in my pantry. When the time comes, I can whip something up
pots and tomatoes. And then like a bag of broccoli florets is like my staple pasta and then you just add
like ground turkey or ground beef, you know, just add to the sauce or chicken. I mean, it’s like it doesn’t
get any easier than that. Sadly Yeah, it’s like a no brainer, you come up with a few no brainers and then
you just kind of I don’t know I like my produce kind of like freshens up my meals every week. So based
on like what’s on sale or what’s in season, that’s kind of how I change things up but I feel like the base of
my meals that I know my family like wants to eat is usually pretty, you know pretty much the same and
then you kind of just change it up
Awesome. Well that’s definitely something I know like I said with getting back to school and weeknight
activities, a stocked pantry and a stocked fridge with those fresh cut or pre cut veggies ready to go is
definitely definitely key. So okay, so I have an airfryer now which has saved me time in my kitchen and I
have played around with it over the summer and have really figured out you know some go to recipes
that that I can make quickly once I get home from work and need to get the kids out the door to the next
thing so do you have a must have kitchen appliance when it comes to you know whipping up a quick
meal or for your meal prep?
Some I’m really intrigued by the airfryer so we’ll have to talk about that
more. Yes, I am loving mine.
Yeah I’m I’m so close to getting one but in the meantime, I have my slow cooker I mean it’s kind of like
old school I guess but honestly my my slow cooker is my go to for like cooking meats and that’s usually
what I mean I even make it I use it for soups and meals but I find that I will always use it for like cooking
a lot of shredded chicken or you know making like a sauce or something just something that I want to be
hands off with. So I love my slow cooker. I also I’m pretty basic here, but I love having cheap pans and a
lot of them. Because, like if I’m going to use a sheet pan to roast vegetables, I’ll usually like, do extra like
I’ll almost like an extra sheet pan of vegetables for like the next day. Or I like to make big potato My kids
love big potatoes and I use this method that I found from a blog called she wears many hats and it’s just
a quick baked potato recipe I guess you can call it and it just I’ll usually do to shoot sheet pans and I’ll do
like one of the potatoes and one of like roasted sweet potatoes and I find those are like really nice to
have in the fridge because you can heat them up really easily the next day so yeah, so I mean I’m pretty
basic but I would say slow cooker and sheet pans are the way to go. I definitely use those the most every
And we do have I know you have several recipes on your site but over at produce for kids calm we do
have several fun sheet pin easy sheet pin dinners and in multiple slow cooker recipes because I know
that that’s the slow cooker is never going away let’s just face although I just dropped the ceramic part of
mine so I am currently without a slow cooker so we’ll also have to chat because I’m in the market
well I found this I broke my ceramic insert of like my 12 year old crock pot for the you know a while like a
couple years ago and I went and got a new slow cooker that you can actually brown me on the stove and
then put it into the socket you know then put it into the the base. And I thought like that was genius
because I hate dirtying like up like a skillet to cook me and then put it in or see or something. So yeah, I’ll
have to tell you about that one. Okay, it’s an awesome yeah, I thought that was like a nice feature that
they added on.
And we can link up in the show notes. I will add links to your fabulous slow cooker. And I will also add a
link to the airfryer too because I feel like that always comes up in all of our in all of the past episodes
something about my airfryer love so. Alright, so how about leftovers? I know. In my house I have people
who like leftovers and people who don’t like leftovers. So what what do you What rules do you live by for
leftovers? Do you have a leftover night or try to repurpose leftovers into new meals, give any tips for
reheating leftovers so they don’t get dried out or soggy.
So I feel like we’ve I’ve kind of learned over the years that we’re not a leftover loving family because I
tend to want I’m like constantly like begging everyone to eat the leftovers. Yeah, and I so I’ve kind of
learned what I would like to have leftovers of is usually like what I’ll try to do is like cook extra meat. And
then like, have that leftover intentionally to use it in a different way the next night or two nights later. So if
I’m going to like brown up some beef or turkey, I’ll try to like make a double batch and then just have that
ready. And that’ll save me time later on. And that’s been the way to go as far as leftovers. We like to use
like if I do a pork tenderloin or something I like to use like the leftover pork tenderloin in a stir. And like a
fried rice homemade fried rice, my kids love that. So I try to like repurpose them and that’s been I think
that works probably best for my family. And then if I have to free something, I try to just freeze the protein
itself like the meat or like the shredded chicken and I’ll usually just put it in a Ziploc bag and and you
know make sure I date it and write what it is because I’ve too many times not done that and it just goes
to waste. So definitely labeling like the freezer bags is is pretty key even though you think you’re not
gonna forget what it is. I always forget what it is. Yes,
I agree. I just did that we did. We have a new recipe that’s going up it’s actually an instant pot recipe
which I do not have but that our team has won and so the girls did an instant pot alphabet soup for back
to school. So keep an eye out for that on the website. But they we we made that at my house for a shoot
and I froze half of it. So when we got back from vacation this past weekend I was like rummaging
through like what can I make and I pulled it out of the freezer like what is this? I know every time And I
thought I would remember I really was thinking there’s no way I’m gonna forget what this is. And then I
dumped it out and I spotted the alphabet. And so I said,
so well good tips there. Yeah, I think repurposing with those leftovers is is definitely a good way to go.
Because I know my family’s like, I know, I just ate this yesterday.
Yeah, I mean, it’s nice to have some leftover, like for lunch, I think sometimes, but I don’t really go further
than that. So in my Yeah, and then everybody else doesn’t seem so excited. So, you know, I, I’ve kind of
learned to just strategically plan for the leftovers.
Right. Okay, so we’re talking, we talked a little bit about freezing meals, which I think is an amazing idea.
We talked Brenda from meal planning magic, who, you know, she did episode one, I believe was meal
planning for beginners. And we talked about freezer meals, and how to go about all of that. So what are
your what is your best advice besides labeling, I guess labeling number one, you can share freezing, or
what are some great, you know, make ahead meals that you like to freeze.
So what I’ve done before, like, if I go to Costco or Sam’s, I don’t go to Sam’s anymore. But like, if I go to
Costco, and I buy like a big bulk of ground turkey, what I have found, when I do this, it works really, really
well is I will cook it all up. And what I’ll do is like season half of it for like taco meat and half of it for like, I
don’t know, like an Italian dish, you know, for meat sauce or something. And I will like portion it into
freezer bags. So I’ll know that I have one pound of you know, ground turkey for tacos, you know, ready to
go already cooked. And I can just, you know, grab that bag and pull it out. And I’ll do the same with
chicken. So if I want to do like, like a salsa chicken, or I don’t know of something like Italian or Asian or
something like that, if I’ve seen it with different seasonings, like I will like pre portion those for like a meal.
So that way, if I want to make a meat sauce, I’ll just pull out like the one pound of pre cooked ground
turkey. And it’ll be I mean, it just it just it defrost so fast. So you can just throw it into the sauce, and it’ll
defrost while it’s warming up. So that has been, you know, that’s kind of like my go to as far as freezing.
And I’ve frozen also. And this is I guess it’s I guess you can call it like for meal prepping or planning
ahead. But if I cook a bunch of quinoa, or brown rice, or white rice, any kind of rice, I like to, you know,
pull, pull that aside to if I’m not going to use it that same week, I’ll go ahead and freeze that as well. And
that and that’s been really good for reheating. So it just kind of cuts down the time. Like as far as getting
dinner ready. It cuts down the time. So it’s it’s not like a full meal, but it’s a big piece of the meal. So that’s
been that’s been helpful. I wish I want to, I am very, like, eager to learn, or try recipes, the ones that are
like fully in the marinade with the vegetables and everything and kind of rolled up in a bag and ready to
go. Yes, when you put them in a slow cooker. I’m like I see those. And that’s just something that I think,
you know, if you plan ahead and like pull out a few recipes and make them you know, just put them in the
ziplock bags. I’ve seen that and it looks like it would work really well. Yes,
I’ve been seeing we’ve been seeing those two are like the dump meals or somewhere like that.
There’s a blogger, lean green bean, Lindsey from lean green bean, she’s coming out with I think an
ebook on freezer, like, I don’t know specifically what it is. But it was all along those. It was like, you know,
pre make pre make them or pre prep them and then put them into the crock pot. And that would spin like,
I thought that was kind of a genius thing. And I know that’s probably been around for a long time. But it’s
um, that’s something I’ve never done, but I kind of want to do.
Yeah, and I think there’s something maybe like mentally I think for me, where where it’s like, Oh, I’m just
gonna throw like all of these things and like can’t they’re all kind of like mush together. Like yeah, I think
it’s it has taken me a while to think like, okay, then it’s really gonna work out, you know, because I think
Yeah. So we’ll have to try a couple of those out maybe and share
with each other. That’s for sure. And if and I’ll keep an eye out for that ebook from Lindsey too. And we
can link you know, share that link out. For anyone listening who wants to, to learn more about those,
those types of meals. So last question. You know, we’re all about getting kids involved in the kitchen. I’m
sure they’re exhausted from being back to school. But of course, we still got to keep them involved. So
are there certain tasks? I know your your kids are various ages. So you probably have some thoughts on
this. But are there certain tax tasks your kids can help out with? And does it really help you save time Are
you cleaning up?
So I have three kids, three different ages, and my oldest who’s almost 14, which is crazy, he’s 13. But
he’s not that interested in helping out. I mean, and that’s fine with me. So you know, when he was little,
he helped stir and things like that. And, you know, it’s more for fun, my daughter who’s 11 is like your
daughter, and she loves being in the kitchen. So the best thing I did with her is a few years ago, before I
really wanted her to use like a real knife. I bought these, like plastic serrated. Like, I guess they’re kids
versions of chef knives. And we can
I have them
forever. That’s what helped her really get started with like cutting stuff. And she’s like, she’s awesome in
the kitchen with me. And she, she can slice, she’ll cut up cucumber, she’ll cut up strawberries, I mean,
she’ll cut off any anything fruits, vegetables. So she, if I give her like some tasks and say let’s, you know,
cut up all the veggies for, you know, a salad. She, she, she can she can do it. And so I think it depends
on your kid and, you know, their, their willingness to, you know, in their eagerness to learn and want to be
in there. My little one, you know, he gets excited about stirring stuff up, and then he leaves and, you
know, it is what it is. So and I don’t spend that much time, you know, encouraging him to do it, which is
probably you know, I probably should but, you know, my daughter at her age, she’s definitely, she’s
definitely in the category of helping more than, you know, me having to teach and clean up. So I
definitely think those knives were, were a huge, you know, part of that, like, you know, it gave her, you
know, the warm up skills to like, start learning how to do it.
Yes, and we ordered I ordered those I want to say right after Christmas this year, and both the girls have
been, you know, I just always hesitated there in my older daughters at that age where I’m like, well, she
sorta old enough to have a knife, but she’s never really had the instruction, you know, the proper
instruction. Yeah. So yeah, they’ve been awesome. And we can link up we’re gonna have lots of links
from this from Yeah, so
yeah, I forgot where I found those knives. And, but, I mean, I must have seen them on a blog. But they
weren’t, they definitely were a game changer. Because of the same reason I didn’t really want her to use
a real knife, but, but she wanted to help. So I had to, it was a good way to compromise that and she’s
definitely a big help. And sometimes I’ll give her I mean, she’s a little bit better with knives. But even like
a paring knife, she can Cut cucumbers or strawberries with a small paring knife. And I don’t feel that
nervous about it. Because, you know, where she’s at her age and everything and, you know, more
experienced with cutting so, yeah, I think you kind of like, build up to that. So. So yeah, if you have the
right, the child with the right personality, I think for it, you can definitely use them to, to help.
Yes, for sure. And, and I know with my older daughter, it’s like, okay, I see this as like, my goal is for her
to someday be you know, on her own Cooking. Cooking Cooking me dinner. Yes, I like that idea. That is
a goal. But just being able, like not, you know, just know kind of knowing what to do. And I’m not a chef
by any stretch of the imagination. But I just feel like if she you know, if you just kind of felt comfortable in
the kitchen, you know, if you’re in there and doing these things, then it’s not going to be so foreign to her
whenever someday. A long, long time from now. I hope she’s out on her own.
No, totally, I think Yeah. I mean, I don’t think I was cutting stuff up at this age. I helped my parents in their
restaurant when I was older. And that was kind of new for me. But I definitely wasn’t helping that young.
So I think it’s it’s great. I think if if they’re into it and they’re learning, it’ll definitely help them minor,
for sure. Well, thank you so much Aggie for being part of the healthy family project, our new endeavor
here. We’re really excited and I’m sure this won’t be the first time that we’re talking to you. All the best of
luck with back to school with your your kiddos and getting everybody back on track. I know we’re going
through those motions over here. So may the force be with you. And so can you before we sign off, can
you let listeners know where they can find you on social media and connect with you?
Oh, yes, absolutely. Thanks for having me. By the way. My blog at web address is www Aggies.
kitchen.com. And Aggie is a GG, ie, s kitchen. And pretty much every all my social media is the exact
same handle. I’m on all of it, but I like to hang out on Instagram. And that’s kind of where I, I just hang
out. I share a lot more on Instagram. So
all right, well, wonderful. Well, sure. And we’ll be sure to link up to your outlets on our show notes. And
really everything that we chatted about. If there’s any additional information, you can go head over there
and find everything there. Thank you so much, Aggie.
Thanks for listening in today. We hope our chat will make your life a little easier. Be sure to head over to
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