It’s a full-time job to raise a family. Whether you have another full-time job on top of parenting or not, getting dinner together for a family is sometimes a little too time-consuming…especially when you know pizza is just a phone call away. That’s exactly where Kendra Cundick of Idaho Falls found inspiration. “I wanted to find a way to help busy moms get a healthy dinner on the table for their families. So I started creating recipes to use in the crockpot directly from the freezer and Sliced Pepper was born. There is such a need to get wholesome, healthy meals on the dinner table. I was falling short and getting frustrated…so I came up with a solution.”

Kendra pictured with her family (from left): daughter Kella, husband Nate, and daughter Ashton.

Students come to a Sliced Pepper class and, two hours later, will leave with ten meals that go straight from the freezer to the crockpot. You can cater your recipes based on your family size and can make anywhere from 10-40 servings in a class. Meals range from Sloppy Joes to Thai coconut soup to one of her favorites: Sweet Pork.

Kendra’s Favorite Sweet Pork Recipe (serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 3lbs boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 (10oz) can, red enchilada sauce
  • 1 (4oz) can, diced green chilis
  • 1/2c light brown sugar
  • 1/2t chili powder
  • 1/2t onion powder

Prep:

  • Combine all ingredients and freeze in a large freezer bag.
  • From frozen, cook in a crockpot 6-8 hours or Instant pot 2 hours quick release.
  • Serve on tortilla with black beans, jasmine rice, and any of your other favorite burrito toppings or on top of a bed of crisp kale and cabbage salad.

“When a person attends one of my classes, all they bring is a cooler. I provide everything else from the food to the apron you wear when you’re preparing your meals. I do all of the meal planning, shopping, and even the clean up afterward. It is a fun get together, whether it’s a group of family and friends or people who come alone and make new friends here.”

Sliced Pepper was born about a year ago, but Cundick discovered the Jokari Baggy Holder a year earlier. “I was scanning Amazon, trying to find a better way to hold my freezer bags open while putting food in them. They are amazing and everyone that attends my classes agrees. They are always asking what they are called and where to purchase them.”

There is an art to making large amounts of food ahead of time. Cundick recommends getting as much air out of the bags as possible and, if your recipe is using potatoes, to make sure there is liquid covering them or they’ll turn black. Also, when you’re storing bags in your freezer, place wax or parchment paper under them so they don’t freeze to your grates…or each other. Most meals will keep for up to four months in the freezer.

Kendra’s best advice for meal prep? “Just do it. Most people think of meal prep as a huge task and to be very time-consuming. It saves so much time in the long run. It’s easy to put it off and keep putting it off but when you actually take the time (less than 2 hours at a Sliced Pepper class) to do it, the result is amazing and you will be so glad you di! Your body will thank you for feeding it wholesome, healthy food instead of spur of the moment, fast, greasy, unhealthy food.”

 

Now that we’ve been in fall for a while, you’ve probably swapped your shorts and flip-flops for leggings and boots and chances are you are anxiously planning the next time you can take a beach vacation when you’re scraping frost off your car in the morning. Did you also retire your grill for the colder months? You don’t have to!  Just because the temperatures are dropping and the leaves are turning colors doesn’t mean that you have to part ways with your best friend of the last four or so months.

When it comes to fall grilling, you can add a bit more creativity to your endeavors. New produce is available and the flavor combinations are very robust. That being said, here are three ways to keep an open flame this fall.

  1. Roasted vegetables – Grilling your vegetables helps to eliminate any messes in the kitchen. Keep the roasting pans in the cupboard because all you’ll need is the grill and some foil. Squash, onions, carrots, and potatoes are all delicious vegetables that you can cook right on the grill. Prep with your favorite produce tools, toss them in some olive oil and the spices of your liking, then place them on heavy-duty foil to begin the roasting process on the grill.
  2. Get creative – There’s nothing wrong with classics like grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, but the fall lends itself to a bit more creativity when it comes to marinades! Dark, seasonal beers are not only good for drinking; they’re good for marinating as well. Find a recipe that tickles your fancy. Reserve a portion of the marinade on the side and use our Bottletop Baster to brush on a final coating before serving!
  3. Fruity ideas – Apples, bananas, figs, peaches, and pineapple are just a few fruits that are delicious on the grill.  After you initially grill them, can coat them in a mixture of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and return them to the grill. The sugary mixture should crystallize. Once you see the beautiful amber coloring on your fruits, remove and serve over ice cream.

Have you ever watched the TV show Extreme Couponing? It’s absolutely insane in the most wonderful sense of the word. Families have a coupon clipping system in place that basically gives them hundreds of dollars of groceries for pennies on the dollar. Most people that are extreme couponers seem to treat it like a full-time job and spend their entire day gathering coupons (sometimes going through the garbage to add to their stockpile), clipping, printing online offers, and organizing their coupons in a way that truly lets their Type-A personalities shine. But it all pays off that moment they are at the checkout and the clerk tells them their $500 grocery trip is going to cost them a mere twelve cents.

Now, let’s be honest: there are a few issues with the show and the idea, because it seems like a lot of the things they buy aren’t necessarily things they need. One episode had a woman buying cat food, but she didn’t have a cat. Interviews with many extreme couponers discuss how they have to throw away a lot of their products because they expire. Often, you’ll see shoppers buying pretty unhealthy foods to feed their families.  Enough Hamburger Helper to feed a family of four every night for a year? Probably not the best dinner decision.

All of the couponers, however, do seem to share some common strategies when they go shopping that can help make the most out of your time at the grocery store.  Here are five tips for how to not only clip coupons effectively but also organize your shopping trip:

  1. Organize your coupons. Many people clip coupons and “put them away”–which usually means losing them or forgetting to use them before they expire. There are lots of ways to organize, and you have to find what’s best for you.  Some people organize their coupons based on category (baby food, spaghetti, soda, etc), others by the coupon’s expiration date. 

    The Jokari Coupon Holder

    Depending on how many coupons you clip, you may want to use a binder, a school supply box or even a coupon holder that you can fasten to your shopping cart when you go to the store.

  2. Get to know your grocery store. Organize your shopping trip based on the layout of your store. This way, you’re not running back and forth trying to find what you need. 
  3. Know the best times to shop. Don’t go to the grocery store on a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon and expect to be in and out. Wake up early up or go late on a weeknight. Grocery stores are ghost towns after 9 pm.
  4. Talk to people in the produce department or the meat department.  Be nice. Ask the butcher about his family or the cake decorator about her recent vacation.  It may not save you time, but being friendly and having people who smile when they see you always make a shopping trip better.
  5. Use grocery store apps for extra savings. Many grocery stores have a weekly free product for people who use their app.  It may not be something that interests you, but you never know unless you get it.

What tips help make you a grocery shopping and coupon clipping champ? Share in the comments section below! The Jokari Coupon Holder helps take the stress out of grocery shopping. Just another way we help you make life better.

 


Halloween is just around the corner and our kids are anxiously awaiting the mountain of candy that they’ll pour out onto the living room floor after a successful trip (or two) around the neighborhood during trick-or-treating.

If you’re trying to lose weight or keep extra pounds from creeping on during the holiday season, Halloween can be filled with scary temptations that can add pounds frighteningly fast if you’re not paying attention!

But it is possible to keep the Halloween binges under control. Here are three helpful tips to help you enjoy a healthy Halloween.

Fuel up before trick-or-treating


It’s a chilly October night and what’s more comforting than unwrapping a delicious melt-in-your-mouth candy bar? Though we do love to indulge every now and again, Halloween is a holiday that’s filled with excess calories, sugar, and fat. Rather than leave your house on an empty stomach before the night’s festivities, make sure to enjoy a healthy meal that will leave you feeling satiated and less tempted to eat candy along the way.


Be mindful

Though we’ll be surrounded with sugary goodness for the next few weeks, this doesn’t mean you have to take it upon yourself to eat your way through the Halloween candy bowl! Because you aren’t eating candy for its nutritional benefits, be mindful of what you’re consuming and why. We’re not telling you to put a padlock on the candy stash, but we are saying is that if you choose to indulge in a treat, take the time to really enjoy the taste. Also, choose candy you actually want, not the one that you think you should have because it’s the lesser of the two evils. If you deny yourself that treat you’ve been craving and opt for one that you really don’t want, you’ll be more likely to keep eating to fill that void.

Keep it out of sight and out of mind


Your kids don’t have to be penalized just because you’re trying to cut calories. Rather than getting rid of their candy stash, simply put it in a cabinet or a place where you can’t visibly see it all of the time. Another way to limit the over-consumption of Halloween candy is by portioning it out into small baggies for special occasions or trying to pair it with something healthy. If your kids want a piece of candy, they can enjoy a healthy snack to go along with it. Also, if you’re a holiday baker, save some of that Halloween candy for your holiday baking efforts.

It might take a little planning and willpower on your part, but you can have a healthy Halloween.  But don’t stress about it and give yourself permission to indulge. Just don’t eat all of your kids’ candy…they won’t like that, either.

SaveSave


We are huge fans of repurposing things here at Jokari. Sure, you can get a lot of use out of everyday products the way they were intended. But it’s incredible how many OTHER ways you can use things, too.

Did you know you can use plastic grocery bags to make beads? And it’s not hard, either!

 

Materials needed:

  1. Clean plastic bags
  2. Parchment paper
  3. Iron
  4. Crafting Glue
  5. Toothpicks
  6. Scissors
  7. Ruler

How to:

  1. Place two layers of your plastic bags between two sheets of parchment paper.
  2. Heat iron to low/medium setting (no steam) and run the iron over the parchment paper.  I recommend running the iron five times over each side (it will be hot when you flip it! So be careful!)
  3. Cut long triangles out of the fused bags. If you cut a wide triangle, you get a long bead. If you cut a narrow triangle, you will get a short, fat bead.
  4. Apply a small amount of glue on one side of the triangle, about ¼ inch from the bottom. DO NOT PUT GLUE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BEAD.  
  5. Roll the bead onto the toothpick, wide end first.  (Be careful not to glue toothpicks to the beads. This is why you don’t have glue at the bottom of the bead.)
  6. Stand toothpicks upright and allow beads to dry (Overnight is always best)
  7. Enjoy your new beads!

So now you have a way to re-use your plastic bags. If you need a place to store your bags, check out our bag holder! 

 

We are huge fans of repurposing things here at Jokari. Sure, you can get a lot of use out of everyday products the way they were intended. But it’s incredible how many OTHER ways you can use things, too. This week we went a little bananas. Literally.

There are several uses for bananas for that have nothing to do with eating them. Here are seven sensational uses for bananas:

Gardening. Plant a whole banana by the roots of your rosebush to help your roses grow.  You can also use the peel to help your tomato plant absorb nutrients, or use the peel in compost.

Shine your shoes.  Yup. You can shine dark leather shoes with the inside of a banana peel.

Remove splinters. Because banana peels can soften skin, you can use them to help get a deep splinter out of your skin. Cut a chunk of the peel off, tape it to the area with medical tape overnight. In the morning, remove the peel and you will see that the splinter has worked its way out and should be sticking to the pulp of the peel!

Relieve poison ivy itch. Rub the peel over poison ivy to reduce itchiness and encourage healing.

Whiten your teeth. Simply rub the inside of a banana peel on your teeth every night for two minutes, then brush your teeth as usual. Just make sure to use a new peel each night!

Use the skin for…better skin. While we’re on the subject of nightly beauty rituals…you can also rub the inside of a banana peel on your face every night.  Rinse your face in the morning when you wake up.

Polish silverware. Crazy, right? But you can rub a banana peel on your silverware and restore its shine. Just make sure to remove any stringy material from inside the peel before you start. Finish by buffing silverware with a paper towel or cloth.

Of course, eating bananas is also encouraged. Try our banana hook to keep your bananas fresher, prevent bruising, and lasting longer.

Diagnosis: Chronically Messy

Definition: A person who is unable to keep a house, apartment or room neat, clean, organized, or sanitary.

Symptoms: Clothes and dishes all over the place, unpleasant odor, tripping constantly, inability to locate important items, frustration, rationalization, and procrastination.

Cure: Unknown

Sadly, there may never be a complete cure for this affliction. There are, however, steps you can take to get your illness under control and vastly improve your lifestyle.

frustrated woman with mess

1. Surround Yourself with Pro-Organizers

We’re not suggesting that you’ll succumb to peer pressure, but you’ll see how much easier their lives are and that will motivate you to get more organized, too. Not only that, but pro-organizers can be a helpful resource for pro-tips. They’re the best sources for hacks from how to fold best to how to budget and keep a calendar. Who knows, they love it so much they may even offer to help you straighten up from time to time.

2. Do One Chore Per Day (not all at once)

Doing your cleaning all at once is a bad idea if you hate doing it. It may be nice to have every single thing clean (for once), but it’ll make you a lot less motivated to do it next time. You’ll think back to when you had to do it last and say to yourself, but that took so long… and it was so terrible… I’ll do it another day. That’s why it keeps getting pushed off in the first place. Breaking it up into smaller chunks is a lot less time consuming and it keeps the place from every digressing into total messy chaos.

3. Clean Smart

Remember: Cleaning everything at once is a bad idea. So, if you’re looking for a place to start, you need to clean smart. Start with the area in your room or house that is causing the most inconvenience in your life and work backwards from there, gradually getting to the least intrusive messes you’ve made. Seeing the immediate difference that cleaning one mess makes in the convenience of your life will motivate you to keep going.

having fun cleaning

4. Make it Fun (sort of)

If you hate cleaning, you probably won’t ever describe it as something ‘fun’, but there are ways to improve the experience. What would you be doing during your downtime if you were putting off cleaning? Probably listening to a podcast, watching Netflix, listening to music- something along those lines? Well, do that while you clean. This way you don’t feel like you have to take a break from your life to clean and focusing on something you enjoy will experience more fun (or at least less painful).

5. Identify Your Worst Habits: They’re Now Off-Limits

It could be hoarding dishes in your room, leaving dishes in the sink, leaving shoes laying around, leaving clothes all over the floor- whatever it may be, it has to stop. But, again, baby steps. Just identify the top two or three mess-creating actions you do. How you want to rank them is up to you: whether it’s by what creates the biggest messes or the most inconvenient messes. Force yourself stop those habits. You may never eliminate your messiness all together, but honing in on one or two behaviors is doable and will greatly improve your lifestyle.

woman vacuuming

6. A Place For Everything, Not a Place for Anything

If you’re a disorganized person by trade, you’ve probably once uttered the phrase, I hate cleaning because then I never know where my stuff is. It sounds crazy, but even though your room might be a mess, there’s often a method to your madness. So cleaning can sometimes have the opposite effect that it should, actually making it harder for you to locate your belongings.

We recommend finding a place for everything, but if you’re worried about messing up your messy system, organize things so simply even you won’t forget it. Use labels and invest in clothing or purse racks. When you’re organizing your closet, do it by color or season (or both). Even keeping a master list of where everything important is may help, just until you get used to the new system. If at any point you find yourself asking, Will I remember that I’m putting this here? -find another place for it. Let’s face it: if you have trouble finding your things, it’s not going to be long before they end up back where they were. Mainly on your floor.

With the summer season in full swing, everyone wants to feel good and healthy. Any summer diet would be incomplete without one ingredient: fresh veggies. They’re incredibly healthy for you, low calorie, and filling- perfect for keeping you feeling energetic in the summer heat. But finding fresh veggies isn’t an intuitive process, it takes some serious research. And you don’t want to be googling avocados all day- you want to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. Well, you won’t be-leaf how easy it is to find fresh veggies with these tips:

Artichokes: When choosing artichokes, look for ones that have tight leaves and feel heavy for their size. One neat trick is to rub the leaves together and listen. If they squeak- it’s good!

Asparagus: You’ll want ones that have smooth, firm, and brightly-colored stalks. Make sure to get ones that have stalks of equal thickness to ensure even cooking times on all sides. Avoid ones with limp stalks.
avocados

Avocados: Avocados are one of the trickier veggies when it comes to ripeness. Choose ones that feel slightly soft to the touch. Slightly avocados may be ripened at home (similar to bananas), but avoid rock-hard ones and ones with dents.

Broccoli: Choose broccoli with firm stalks, tight florets, and green leaves. Avoid those that have yellowed or flowering florets.

Brussels Sprouts: Avoid brussel sprouts with loose or wilted outer leaves. Instead, choose ones with firm and bright green heads.

carrots

Carrots: When choosing carrots, look for ones that are firm and smooth- without rootlets.

Celery: Look for unblemished and green stalks and leaves- avoid any with yellow coloring.

Corn: Corn should have bright green husks and slightly moist silk. Make sure you also peel back the husk and check that the kernels are plump.

Cucumbers: When choosing cucumbers, just make sure you’re picking ones that are uniformly green (again, no yellow).

Green Beans: Choose slender beans that aren’t bendable. Ideally, they should snap rather than bend.

Kale: When it comes to veggies, yellow is typically your worst enemy- with Kale it’s no different. Avoid yellow leaves and instead choose those that are crisp and deeply colored.

lettuce

Lettuce, Spinach, and Other Leafy Greens: Look for greens with fresh, crisp leaves- stay away from those that are wilted or slimy.

Peas: The pods should be crisp and green. Avoid dried, bulging, yellow (again, worst enemy), or white pods.

Peppers: These should be shiny peppers and should also feel heavy for their size.

Potatoes: Good potatoes shouldn’t have green spots, bruises, or sprouts. Look for ones that are both smooth and firm.

Radishes: Choose radishes with unblemished roots and green tops.

Tomatoes: This is one where you’ll get weird looks in the grocery store- but it’s worth it! Tomatoes should be fragrant with an earthy smell at the stem end. They should also feel heavy for their size and the skin should be smooth.

When you travel somewhere, do you tie a ribbon to your luggage so it stands out from the rest? Have you ever used an ice cube to get gum out of someone’s hair? Maybe there’s a tennis ball hanging in your garage so you know exactly where to park your car without hitting the wall. All of these are examples of solutions people have found to everyday problems that help make life a little easier.

person on pinterest

If you do an internet search, you’ll be amazed at the number of blog posts, websites, videos and Pinterest boards are out there that are devoted to tips like these. There are easy ideas like putting your cell phone in an empty pint glass to form a makeshift speaker or using your knuckles to figure out which months have 31 days. If you’re a little more adventurous and crafty, you could save money by making your own liquid hand soap using a cheese grater and a less expensive bar of soap. There are an infinite number of ideas that can help bring out that little bit of MacGyver that’s in all of us.

Some people call them Lifehacks, and other people just call them tips or tricks. But no matter what you call them, these unique solutions have been around for a while…and they probably all can be traced back millions of years to fire.

campfire

It was 1.8 million years ago that our predecessors discovered the controlled use of fire. This is arguably the ultimate in life hacks, and without a doubt it revolutionized the world as we know it today. But, while controlled use of fire changed how we were able to survive and evolve, starting a fire is something that people today still struggle to perfect. If you do a google search of “how to build a fire,” you get over 12 million results, all claiming to be the best.

But we all know that there is no “one size fits all” approach to anything…even building a fire. We all live different lives with different obstacles and different preferences…we all even hold pens differently. That being said, there is no way one hack works for everyone.. Thanks to the internet, however, we have a chance to find the perfect solution for each of us.

Today, you can find a slew of products, tips, and blog posts with simple (and not-so-simple) solutions to everyday problems. People with arthritis have used (and broken) their teeth to open bottles until someone created a product to help open bottles with ease. Mathematicians have taken the guesswork out of when it makes the most sense to play the lottery. Have rotten bananas? Use a banana hook to keep them fresher longer. Want to clean your computer’s keyboard? Use a post-it note. Wrinkled shirt and no time to iron? Hang it in the bathroom while you shower. If you really want to make your own ice cream sandwiches, there are even videos that show how by using a knife to cut slices out of the pint and putting them between two cookies you can create a culinary treat that parallels something you’d find in a five-star restaurant.

While some of these solutions may seem trivial, if you added up the time you saved, not to mention the reduction of frustration and stress you feel, people are really changing their lives by incorporating a few products or simple tips into how they do things.

microwave

One of the biggest areas where people are looking for ways to make life easier is in the kitchen. In 1967, the first domestic microwave was introduced and that dramatically changed the way we did things in the kitchen. The microwave cut down on cooking time, reduced the need to use so many pots and pans (thus reducing cleanup time), and allowed us to reheat leftovers almost instantaneously. Today, approximately 97% of American homes have microwave ovens. But the microwave is just a starting point.

There are an infinite number of kitchen gadgets available on the market today. While people living in the Bronze age used kitchen utensils made of (obviously) bronze, the Iron age brought more sophisticated food tools and as we evolved, we added strainers and the mortar and pestle, which eventually paved the way for jello molds, indoor grills, salad spinners…the list goes on and on. Today, you can even buy a fork that will signal to you with a flashing light if you are eating too fast for your food to be properly digested.

According to Gourmet Insider, the kitchen tool and gadget industry took in $59.8 million in 2016, an increase of 6% from the year before. The number is expected to rise as people entertain from home more, return to canning their own foods, and focus on portion control. The innovations in the industry are never-ending. Whether you want a tech-fueled kitchen or a back-to-basics setup, there is a gadget or two that will help you save time.

wheel

We all know that making life easier doesn’t just stop in the kitchen. The amount of gadgets out there, whether fueled by cutting-edge technology or not, is astounding. The earliest example of a gadget would be the wheel. Can you imagine life without the wheel? It made a huge impact on our society, and nowadays, almost everything uses the wheel in some way or another. One of the most amazing facts about the wheel is that, while most inventions are inspired by nature, the wheel was completely thought of by man. According to the Smithsonian, there are no wheels that exist in nature. You never know where great ideas will come from, you just have to be open to them.

If you are struggling to find a way to simplify your life in one arena, you are probably not alone. Not only that, but given our technological advances and availability, when it comes to gadgets, if you can dream it, it probably exists (or you could make it!). From smartphones to aromatherapy socks you put in the microwave, the options are endless. When Bill Gates said, “Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time,” maybe he wasn’t specifically talking about life hacks. But it applies, and it’s application should inspire us to find new ways to do everyday things.

The importance of gadgetry doesn’t go unnoticed. According to google analytics, people search for different types of gadgets over 100,000 times per month. And you can get even more specific by looking for tech gadgets, kitchen gadgets, and even gadgets to help improve your yoga practice are out there on the market. “There’s a way to do it better–find it,” urged Thomas Edison. Even if someone else’s lifehack idea is not quite what you are looking for, it may inspire you to create your own.

But it’s not just about the gadgets. A simple tip to doing things differently or a motivational quote to keep you inspired are also considered ways of making life easier.

recycled art

Of course, there are also people who will show you ways to repurpose items you already possess in new ways you never imagined. There are artists whose entire visions are based on repurposing everyday objects, even trash we would normally throw away, into art. You can get step-by-step instructions to learn how to make beads from plastic grocery bags or turn an old ladder into a bookcase. If you have a t-shirt drawer filled with shirts you don’t wear anymore, or clothes your kids have outgrown but that have too much sentimental value to give away, you can repurpose them into a quilt out of clothes you no longer wear.

Finding gadgets and tips to make our lives easier doesn’t make us lazy. It really has a lot more to do with prioritizing. If you can save time by doing your banking online with an app, or keep your jeans lasting longer by putting them in the freezer instead of washing them, why wouldn’t you? It also makes for great conversation to share things you are doing in life to make it easier. People love to hear a good tip and the more offbeat, the better.

lifehack cords

What does this all mean? It’s pretty simple, actually. As humans, we constantly realize we want to live our best lives ever. If there are products out there to help us achieve that, then most of us are willing to give them a try. If there is a tip that will save us time at work or in the kitchen or help us keep our finances in order, then we will use it. If our goal is to live a fulfilling life, then gadgets and life hacks are a big part of reaching that goal. The benefits of saving time doing the mundane so we can focus on what makes us happy are reason enough to keep searching for these tips and tricks as we go through each day.