Top 10 cooking secrets for simple family meals

Sep 26, 2012 at 3:00 a.m. ET

If taking your family out to eat seems like a time-saver, think again. Unless you typically prepare complicated, multi-course meals, you will actually save time -- not to mention money -- by feeding your family at home. Follow these cooking tips to prepare simple family meals.

woman cutting vegetables

In addition to quick and simple recipes, you can make cooking at home fast and convenient with these top 10 cooking secrets from G. Garvin, host of TV One's Turn Up The Heat with G. Garvin.

G. Garvin's philosophy on life and cooking is beautiful simplicity. "Between jobs and responsibilities, we don't make enough time for the people who are most important to us. And we don't make enough time to sit down to dinner with the whole family," Garvin says. Garvin's cookbook, Make it Super Simple, is an invaluable collection of delicious, easy-to-fix recipes designed to get people reconnected to their loved ones with sit-down homemade meals. Here are his top 10 super-simple cooking secrets.

Shop for shortcuts

Spend some time roaming the supermarket for items such as packaged salad greens, rice pilaf mixes, precut fruits and vegetables and prepared salsas and sauces. You will be minutes ahead later.

Get a game plan

You will get the most done in the least amount of time if you plan ahead. Take a minute to read the recipe and gather everything you need. Always simplify whenever you can. If a recipe calls for chopped or diced garlic, try smashing it instead with the side of a knife blade. While the entree cooks, toss a salad or set the table.

Mix and match

You do not have to make everything from scratch. Go to the store and buy a deli salad to serve with a meat or chicken entree. Use the right balance of homemade and store-bought to add variety to your meals while keeping everything simple.

Chop, chop!

When you're chopping onions, carrots, bell peppers or fresh herbs, chop a little extra to stash in the freezer for busy days.

Saute the smart way

Sauteing can be a fast, healthy way to cook meat or vegetables. The secret of a great saute is to use a good size skillet or saute pan and fairly high heat. Cut the food in uniform-size pieces and you will get the most even cooking.

Freeze with ease

Homemade sauces can be doubled easily. Freeze sauce in a freezer-safe container to reheat and serve later over your favorite meat or pasta.

Use your microwave

It's an easy, mess-free way to melt butter and chocolate, thaw meats and poultry, steam fresh or frozen vegetables or reheat precooked rice and pasta.

Get the kids to help

Depending on their ages, they can measure dry ingredients, whisk and stir dry ingredients and batters, tear herbs, grate cheese and even break eggs.

Spice it up

Seasoning blends are wonderful because you can use them to heighten the flavor of almost any dish with just one measure. There are several spice blends on the market and you can also purchase G. Garvin's seasonings at

Be the chef

Be innovative. Experiment with your favorite ingredients or whatever you have on hand. When family and friends come to the table, they will love it.

Put these super-simple cooking tips in action with a few of G. Garvin's quick, delicious recipes.

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