Whether you’re a stay at home mom with a family of four, or a busy professional on the go, meal planning and keeping a well stocked pantry can be a struggle in itself. Professional organizer, best selling author, TV personality and mom Mary Carlomagno joined me recently to discuss how you can make meal planning easy with the help of kitchen appliances, tips when eating out, how to keep a well stocked pantry, and she even shared her delicious easy pasta recipe!
Candace Rose: As a mom and professional organizer, what are things you’re often asked?
Mary Carlomagno: “Well, the biggest question I’m always asked is ‘how do I save more time’? A lot of people are very busy right now, especially busy moms – whether they’re stay at home moms or work out of the home moms, so everybody is looking for more time in their day. What I’ve done is partnered with a couple great items that help them with shortcuts that they can save time in their day.
One of the tips that I wanted to share with you is using the tools in your kitchen. I like to use the slow cooker because you can set it up in the morning with your favorite recipes, turn it on and then you don’t have to think about it the rest of the day, and at night all you have to do is sit and serve. The preparation is happening for you all day. And in a like manner I like the microwave for that reason because you can make great steamed dishes and side dishes like vegetables. And you can use this without guilt. Sometimes people feel guilty, but these are shortcuts that you really can feel good about.
Probably my favorite shortcut of all is the shortcut that takes meal preparation and dinner preparation off of your to do list for two days in a row, and you can do that with the Olive Garden Dinner Today & Dinner Tomorrow promotion. This is running through November 18th. You can choose from five entrees- so you can enjoy the Mezzaluna Ravioli with five cheese marinara sauce at the Olive Garden and then take home the Lasagna Rollatini with meat sauce. You have that for $12.95, and you take two dinners off of your to do list two days in a row. It’s a really convenient and affordable way for you to feed your family, and you have more family time and you don’t have the clean up or the prep work.”
Candace Rose: What are some of the best ways to keep your family on schedule?
Mary Carlomagno: “To keep your family on schedule, organization is the key. And sometimes while we like to do meal preparation (it’s often very fulfilling), it can really be time consuming so trying to save a shortcut when you have meal preparation is essential. What I like to do is keep a really good stocked pantry with items that I can go to, that I can count on. I use a dry erase board when I take inventory in the pantry so I can quickly write down the items I’m missing. It helps me save time when I get together to go to the supermarket and it also helps me to not buy and rebuy the same items. One of my favorite go to items, and every mom should have this is a delicious and versatile olive oil, which is why I like Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It’s the first and only olive oil to be given the USDA quality monitored seal, which means it went through vigorous testing for purity and quality. It has low acidity and a robust flavor, and it just is the basis for so many great dishes that you can make like this pasta and pine nuts dish that I’m going to show you today. (See video above)
To prepare this dish all you need to do is heat your Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil in your pan and begin to add your spices. You can add some garlic, and lots of different seasonings and spices. Add in some tomatoes and give that a stir, and add some pine nuts. Now while you’re heating this up, you can start preparing your pasta. You do your pasta to an al dente firmness, and then you simply combine it. And then at the end you can top it with your favorite seasonings like shaved Romano cheese, lemon zest and bread crumbs. As you know, this is a wonderful part of a Mediterranean diet, which has amazing health benefits, and olive oil is a great pantry item that every pantry should really have.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share?
Mary Carlomagno: “Well, I would say that all moms are different but we all are very busy, so if you find something that works for your family, you need to really stick with it. And it’s okay to take a shortcut once in a while to give yourself a little bit of slack, and these are some great examples of that. For more information on recipes, you can go to Pompeian.com. You can also check out OliveGarden.com, and you can follow me on Facebook @Mary Carlomagno.”