5 Questions for Short Order Mom

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Diet & Fitness

Anne ColemanAnne Coleman started her food blog Cooking With Anne so that family recipes wouldn't get lost in the shuffle. And there's a lot of shuffle in her Bethlehem, PA, home with seven kids, ranging in age from one to 19. But her no-nonsense, kid-pleasing recipes struck a chord. Within six months, this 40-year-old who grew up watching her mother and grandmother cook for "church folk," caught a Best of Blogs best cooking award -- and the eye of Disney, who hired her to write for Disney Family.

Coleman, the "Short Order Mom" on Family.com, shares some of her simple and budget-friendly secrets with ParentDish.

It's 6 p.m. You're walking into your house for the first time since breakfast. What will you cook?
The slow cooker and microwave are your best friends. Make sure to start something before you leave in the morning, like barbecue chicken to shred and serve on rolls. Or, always have things on-hand, like chicken patties for quick chicken parm sandwiches served with a bagged salad.

You feed your family of nine for $150 a week. What are your top three budgeting tips for the grocery store?

1. Take stock of what you already have. Often there are "hidden" meals there. You'll also save money by not purchasing doubles.
2. Make a menu list -- including one vegetarian day each week -- but be flexible. There may be things on sale that would serve you better that particular week.
3. Don't throw leftovers away! Often times a half cup of this and a half cup of that can add up to more than you think. Leftover veggies can go into soups, stew, fritters, omelets and the like. Even leftover deep-dish pizza.

How do you deal with picky eaters?
I don't! The kids know that what I make for dinner is what they will be eating. I'm not that hard-nosed about it, though. I do try and make a dish that can be served in more ways than one. Spaghetti with or without sauce; pizza with pepperoni and plain; leaving veggies out of a serving or two of a casserole etc. A single food with choices is the way to play it.
What's your biggest challenge as a mother, wife and household chef?
Finding the time to get it all done. I do love cooking, but serving as many as I do a day can really be time consuming. Some days I don't want to do it at all. There are nights when cereal-for-dinner is the name of the game.

Name your go-to items that are always in your pantry.
I always have enough flour and sugar to bake with, and olive oil and fresh garlic for flavor. Then I round it all out with a variety of pastas, frozen veggies, canned tuna and canned tomatoes, olives, Parmesan cheese, ground beef, individually frozen chicken breasts and potatoes.

Be sure to check out Anne's Blog, Short Order Mom, for more tips, tricks, and recipe ideas!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.