Kitchen products

Handy Kitchen Gadgets for a New School Year

I’m a sucker for kitchen gadgets. They can be so handy, so cute, so clever! But if I gave in and bought every great kitchen thingy out there, I wouldn’t have any room to actually cook in my kitchen. Much like all of the baby paraphernalia we’re told we must have, you really only need some essential things in the kitchen that make cooking easier. I found two things that I highly recommend.

Kitchen products

The Fasta Pasta cooker put an end to having to bring pots of water to a boil and waiting, waiting, waiting.

The first is the Fasta Pasta cooker. We make pasta often for dinner and my kids make it more often than I do for lunches. But it isn’t really fast to make. By the time you get the water boiling and then cook the pasta, you’re talking 20-25 minutes. Plus the kids aren’t good about sticking around to make sure the pasta doesn’t boil over and accidents and messes happen.

With the Fasta Pasta cooker, the two circle openings in the lid help you measure just the right amount (it accommodates 1-4 servings at a time). Lay the pasta in the box, fill it with water to the right point and put it in the microwave. For the majority of pastas, and at four servings, it cooks for 11-13 minutes, much faster than cooking on the stove. And cooler too since the stove isn’t on. The first time or two, I recommend taking a fork and lifting out a noodle after the minimum time to see if it’s done to your liking. Keep adding a minute until it’s the way you want it. Put the lid on, remove it from the microwave and strain it through the lid.

The pasta comes out perfectly and doesn’t glob together like it does when I make it in a pot. I haven’t tried it yet but they say you can cook a variety of shapes of pasta plus cook veggies, soups, casseroles and rice in it! As much as I have enjoyed cutting down on the time and heat used to cook pasta this way, I’m going to sacrifice and give the Fasta Pasta to my daughter in college. This will be perfect for her in her small apartment. College students live by their microwaves anyway. I’m glad to know she can make a variety of things with the Fasta Pasta, which retails for $14.99. That’s such a deal, I’ll be buying myself another one.

I love that

I love that this lunch box container makes room for itself in my cupboard!

The other product can be used just for storage or for lunches and snacks on-the-go. The D’Eco Collapsible Lunch Box comes in two sizes, one for kids ($12.99) and one for adults ($19.99). Two silicone compartments can collapse down to 1/3 their original size for storage. But I have also collapsed them down after eating from them to take up less room in my bag on the way home.

The lid is sturdy and clamps on for a secure seal. There’s a cute eating utensil that’s a spoon on one end and fork on the other that snaps into its own compartment – one less thing to have to pack!

Whether I’m using it on-the-go or storing it away, I love, love, love that it collapses. It’s a handy gadget that doesn’t take up much space! I’m all for that.

Both products are available on and from specialty retailers.

We were provided with sample products to facilitate our review. However, our opinions are our own and accurately reflect our experience  with the products. 

Back-to-School Food Ideas By Edan Goode

In our last post, we asked you to send in your ideas for back-to-school breakfast, lunch and snacks that satisfy the kids, are healthy and keep them going. We’re still gathering ideas from readers and invite you to keep sending them in. Either reply to this blog in the Comment section or email us at

Meanwhile, here are some great ideas and recipes from our friends at LiveWell Colorado who are all about feeding kids right, in school and at home.

Each of these breakfast ideas can be made ahead and reheated. The last two can even be frozen in individual serving sizes for a quick breakfast.

Creamy Harvest Oatmeal. Photo courtesy LiveWell Colorado.

Creamy Harvest Oatmeal. Photo courtesy LiveWell Colorado.

Creamy Harvest Oatmeal – Quick morning tip: Soak the oats overnight. Toss in healthy toppings, even if you don’t have everything the recipe calls for, such as nuts, fruits and spices. Each of these breakfast ideas could be made ahead and the following two can even be frozen in individual serving sizes.

Apple-icious Oatmeal Bake – With the idea of a coffee cake, this recipe is filling and healthy and could even be served as an after school snack.

Frittata – This is another make-ahead/freezer option for egg lovers. Get creative throwing in bits of veggies.


Fruity Kabobs. Photo courtesy LiveWell Colorado.

Fruity Kabobs. Photo courtesy LiveWell Colorado.

Chicken Panini Wrap – This recipe is kid-created and kid-approved.

Fruity Chicken Kabobs – It’s purely psychological, but it works – kids are more likely to try things (including fresh fruits and veggies) if they are on a pick or skewer.

Snack (or lunch accompaniment):

Beet Chips – Toss these chips in your child’s lunch for a healthier crunch than the standard chip fare.

Beet Chips. Photo courtesy LiveWell Colorado.

Beet Chips. Photo courtesy LiveWell Colorado.

Roasted Chickpeas – A make-ahead, protein-packed lunch addition that will help keep kids full for the rest of their school day.

Please continue to send us your ideas and be sure to look at the LiveWell Colorado website for additional ideas for healthy meals all day long and many other helpful resources.

Come! E.A.T. with us! 

Twitter: @CoParentEATblog


Share Your School Lunch Ideas By Edan Goode

LunchboxThe kids are back in school. Phew! We can relax now, right? No way!

Besides the constant flood of papers to read and sign, events to volunteer at, homework to oversee, there are breakfasts and lunches to be made that will energize the kids and keep their mind’s sharp while being so appealing they won’t want to give them away. And then there are after-school snacks for those frantically hungry kiddos that need to get them through homework time while rewarding them for a day of hard work.

I know I need ideas for what to feed the kids and I know you all do too. So let’s share our ideas and recipes, shall we? Let’s help each other out!

Simply leave your ideas and recipes in the comment section below and we’ll gather them up and share them with the group.

And while we’re at it, if you have come up with a way to simplify the process of making school lunches, tell us that too. For instance, I have a friend who keeps plastic baskets in her pantry, each filled with items such as granola bars in one, juice boxes in another fruit in another. She makes their sandwiches but then the kids go down the line, taking an item from each basket to complete their lunch. Personally, I’m trying to stay away from too many pre-packaged items but they do come in handy. What are your tricks?

Leave your ideas by September 5. Thanks!

Come! E.A.T. with us! 

Twitter: @CoParentEATblog


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