Drop that takeout menu, and walk away from the fast food. These tips will make you an ace at Monday-to-Friday dinner prep.
Set for success
Shop once, eat all week
If it's Sunday and you haven't thought ahead to what you'll have for dinner on Thursday, you're missing out on the world's simplest time-saving tool: meal planning! Write out a list of what you'll need to prep your family's meals for the entire week, and get it all in a single supermarket trip before your busy weekday cycle begins. There's no need to worry about wilted veggies when you have a Bosch refrigerator that is equipped with the special VitaFresh system. It maintains just the right level of humidity and helps keep produce fresh longer.
Call in the troops!
You don't have to handle meal prep alone: enlist your family's help. Even young kids can gather ingredients from the fridge, and Bosch's large-capacity drawers and shelves mean it's highly unlikely the broccoli will have been flattened by a jar of pickles. (Everything in its place!) Plus, the efficient LED lighting system keeps items in clear view without hogging a lot of electricity. Once your ingredients are on the counter, kids can shift to sous-chef mode. Safe tasks for little ones include tearing lettuce, crumbling cheese and whisking dressing. Older kids can peel veggies and stir sauces or brown meat on the stove.
Love your leftovers
Plan to make a double batch of your favourite casserole, soup or stew, allowing you to easily transform leftovers into lunches or use them as a base for tomorrow's dinner. Consider cooking more than one recipe at a time: Bosch stoves have five burners and three oven racks, so you'll have space for it all. Don't your weeknights feel less stressed already?
Label and date all freezer foods so you can know at a glance what you have on hand at all times. This minimizes waste, as you're less likely to buy items you already have, and makes it easier to put dinner on the table efficiently by using up leftovers.
Thaw frozen dishes in the fridge, as opposed to on your kitchen countertop, to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. To avoid freezer burn and keep food at its best, use airtight storage containers or large bags that are designed for the freezer.
To maximize storage space in your freezer, package items like soups and sauces in resealable freezer bags so you can flatten and stack them on top of one another.
Freezer staples—like peas, edamame, corn, bread, ravioli and puff pastry—make weeknight cooking easier. Have these on hand at all times and make a note when one of those items is running low so you never run out.
For more on how Bosch appliances can make prep, cooking and cleanup easier, visit bosch-home.ca.
Conquer your closet with clever tips that will allow you to add to your shoe collection without losing your mind.
1. Sliding drawers
Multiple open-face pull-out drawers help compartmentalize items based on season and style, making it easier to keep folded items in check without them spilling over.
2. Custom order
Install an adjustable closet system that allows for modifications (hanging height, shelving and drawer space) and includes a shoe system.
3. Group therapy
To give your closet an orderly appearance, use one style of hangers. Also, group clothing by category, like colour or style.
4. Reach for the top
Rotate wardrobe staples seasonally and designate top-shelf storage for rarely used or offseason pieces. Use up-to-the-ceiling shelves to maximize space and discourage boxes from pooling on the ground.
©iStockphoto.com/oldbunyip Image by: ©iStockphoto.com/oldbunyip
Of course you love your pet—but the bills from the vet are another matter. Follow these tips on covering the costs, and on when it might be time to let go.
My late dwarf rabbit Molly was known as the Two-Thousand-Dollar Bunny among my friends. In fact, medical bills for this fluffball—adopted for just 20 bucks—were closer to $3,000 by the end of her life, 11 months after I brought her home.
Molly had Snuffles—not as cute as it sounds. Snuffles, or pasteurellosis, involves sneezing, wheezing, runny eyes and, in my bun’s case, an out-of-control abscess needing daily draining and two rounds of ultimately unsuccessful surgery.
I was a student at the time, and when my vet was talking options and price tags, I can't say every one of the tears I shed was for Molly. Later, as the bills piled up, my then-boyfriend demanded to know exactly where I'd draw the line. I couldn't say. He saw an inversely proportional relationship between the amount I'd spent on a rabbit and my suitability as a life partner. We'd already split up by the time Molly passed away.
Alda Loughlin, practice manager of the Animal Clinic in Toronto, sees many clients struggle with emotionally charged financial decisions about treatment. Here she shares insights into handling high-cost medical care for pets.
People usually underestimate veterinary costs when they're planning to become pet owners. Loughlin relates that her clinic asks prospective animal adoptees how much they expect medical care will cost in the first year.
"How they answer dictates how we'll go forward with the application," she says. "People often think about $500 for a new cat or dog, but you may be looking—without medical problems—at $900 to $1,100, for neutering, exams, vaccinations and microchipping."
If those figures shock you, best get your fix of kitten cuteness on YouTube.
One way of being prepared for big bills is taking out pet insurance; at Loughlin's practice, 30 per cent of clients have policies. While Loughlin supports this precaution, she admits hearing regular complaints about the hoops claimants jump through for reimbursements.
"If people don’t want pet insurance, I suggest they take $30 a month and put it away, or even pay it forward to their vet," she says. Loughlin stashes $100 a month between August and April for her own poodle's annual dental cleaning. "It's good to have a cushion," she says.
Negotiate a payment plan
If you're facing a big bill and you're not covered, your vet may let you pay in installments. "Mention that a treatment is price-sensitive," suggests Loughlin.
A word of caution: Not every practice offers this option, and if they do, they won't automatically make it available to every client. Loughlin recommends establishing a relationship with your veterinarian, as this will help.
Some charitable organizations will help pet owners who are retired, on disability benefits or on a fixed low income and faced with expensive veterinary procedures. In Ontario, pet owners may be eligible for assistance from the Companion Animal Wellness Foundation (requests go through the Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Toronto) or the Farley Foundation, says Loughlin. Ask your vet about similar foundations in your home province.
Do your research
The price tags for treatments can vary quite dramatically from clinic to clinic, so it's OK to shop around, advises Loughlin -- it's a question of balancing out quality and cost. "Call a couple of clinics, ask questions, and be very candid about your pet's condition," she says. She also advises asking exactly what's covered in each quote: is it just the surgery or also the pre-op bloodwork, post-op meds and follow-up visit?
And don't just let cost be the deciding factor. Checking websites with scores and client reviews of local practices or asking your network for recommendations gives you a sense of the level of care you can expect from an unfamiliar vet.
Draw your line
While I couldn't draw a line for my rabbit Molly's medical care, I admit I sometimes felt frustrated that such sophisticated and expensive options even existed as I fell deeper into the red. And I've sometimes wondered if all the interventions were even fair to her.
I polled my friends recently on where they'd draw the line for their own pets. Most said there was no line, but one had an important insight to share, based on her experience paying a fortune to prolong the life of a suffering cat.
"I've regretted the course of treatment we gave my cat who had kidney failure, for more than a decade, but that taught me a lesson," she says. "Find a vet you trust -- one who knows you and your pet well. Just because you can do another test or try another treatment doesn't necessarily mean you should."