If your family doesn’t run to the table, maybe it is time to take an honest look at your cooking routine and see if you have fallen into a menu rut. Generate some mealtime enthusiasm and put a smile on your family’s faces with some fresh new ideas that are sure to please.

You must prep well if you want to cook a large, festive meal. Make sure you have all the ingredients ready. Check the day before you start to cook to make sure that you have everything that you need to cook the dish you have planned. This will allow you to cook without having to worry.

One of the best things that you can do to save money and improve the quality of your dressings is to make your own. Homemade dressings will save you a lot of money in the long run and will also taste great, as most of the ingredients are natural and healthier.

Substitute Greek yogurt for mayonnaise in creamy salad dressings. If you are on a diet or just trying to eat healthy, you can still make creamy salad dressings with healthy ingredients. Just substitute the mayonnaise in them with a low-fat Greek-style yogurt. This will make the dressing much healthier.

Olive oil is one of the most important investments that you can make during the course of your cooking career. Find a high quality brand of olive oil and add this ingredient to a variety of different foods. This oil will help bring out the taste in pasta, fish and meat.

Take care when storing chocolate for use in cooking. As a rule, only buy as much chocolate as you can use within a few months. Chocolate contains fat, and under the wrong conditions it can turn rancid. Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. A kitchen cupboard away from any heat sources is ideal. Keep the chocolate wrapped in foil or plastic and store it away from anything with a strong smell, as it absorbs odors easily.

To take the metallic taste out of canned pumpkin pie filling, heat the filling with all of your spices first. Simply mixing your filling with the other ingredients and then baking traps the metallic taste in your finished pie. But by heating your pumpkin filling alone with the spices first, you release the metallic taste of the filling and simultaneously imbue it with the richer taste of spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger.

Unleash the tremendous flavor power of Mediterranean cous-cous by using this cooking tip. Pour your dry cous-cous in a pot filled with boiling chicken stock instead of water. Mix for ten seconds, then turn off the heat and cover for five minutes. The cous-cous will absorb the tasty flavor of the chicken stock. This effect can also be achieved with vegetable or beef stock.

Buying pasta sauce that already has vegetables, seasonings, meat, or cheese in it is a great way to save time and money when cooking. There’s a great variety to choose from, and you won’t have to chop up peppers and mushrooms or brown the beef. It’s all in one jar–just heat it up, and serve over your favorite pasta!

Planning out meals for the coming week can save you both time and money. You can buy all of the things you will need beforehand without having to make spontaneous trips to the store during the middle of a busy week. You can have a planned schedule and it will make it easy for you to prepare things before you actually cook.

Always have a lot of napkins handy when you are cooking in the kitchen. You never know when a spill will occur, so always prepare for the worst. Purchase thick napkins that can hold a lot of liquid if you want to get the most absorption when cleaning up a mess.

Shelling pecans can be really challenging. Make it easier by soaking them in a cup of water and put the cup into the microwave for 5-6 minutes. It is always possible to soak the pecans into boiling water to get the same effect. Hot water makes the shell softer and easier to crack.

Make sure you season your meat and fish evenly. Sprinkle your salt and pepper over the food as though it is snowing. This will make it so you avoid clumping and avoid having parts of the meat without any seasoning. This will make for a tastier meal.

To save time when cooking for a big event like Thanksgiving, do all the prep work the night before. You can also make desserts a day or two before the dinner. This will give you more time to focus on what needs to be done and the day will be a lot less stressful.

If you took an honest look at your mealtime offerings and decided that they could use some help, start with the fresh ideas in the article above and you will have your family running to the table in no time. These practical tips will get you on your way to success.