Food Safety Refresher and Meal Preparation Shortcuts

Posted by Lori Keroack on Friday, April 17th, 2020 at 4:24pm.


word food written with food 

Photo by stux--12364

With Florida's Stay at Home Order currently in place due to COVID-19, there are many adults and kids at home every day, all day.  Our daily routines have been disrupted and all of a sudden we are juggling a whole new set of responsibilities from the home front.  We're trying to conduct business as usual in our make shift offices even though our kids and pets have other ideas for us.  Structure for the children is imperative if we are to maintain any semblance of our past life when we used to go to work.   It's a huge effort to coordinate and manage school, play, and leisure time for the kids in addition to your own responsibilities.  On top of everything else, there is a lot more cooking that is needed to keep the family fed.  Here's a quick refresher on food safety practices plus a few tips so that you always have ingredients prepped making getting meals on the table quicker.  First, let's go over basic safety rules to Clean, Separate, and Cook food in the kitchen then we'll talk about a few time saving shortcuts to getting the family fed faster.

Clean - Wash your hands, utensils and surfaces often using soap and water or sanitizer.  Wash fruits and vegetables, however, it is not necessary to wash meat, poultry and eggs.

Separate - Be smart - keep foods apart to prevent cross-contamination.  Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs spread illness causing bacteria.  Always, always take extra care when handling these items.

Cook - USDA safe minimum internal temperatures are recommended to avoid food poisoning.  A food thermometer is your best friend in the kitchen.   The minimum internal temperatures recommended by the USDA are:

  • Beef, pork (including fresh ham), veal, and lamb steaks, roasts and chops - 145° F with three minute rest time.  Cooked hams - 165°F.   
  • Ground beef, pork, veal, and lamb as well as egg dishes such as frittata or quiche - 160° F.
  • All poultry including turkey, chicken, duck (whole and pieces) - 165° F.  If the bird is stuffed, the stuffing must be 165° F too. 
  • Leftovers and casseroles - 165° F. 
  • Fish with fins - 145° F.  Shrimp, lobster, crab and scallops are cooked until the flesh is pearly or white, and opaque.  Clams, oysters, and mussels are cooked until the shells open during cooking. 

The United States Department of Health & Human Services maintains current food safety information at

Now that we've had a refresher course on best practices for food safety, here are a few time-saving ideas to help you get dinner on the table fast:

  • Roast a chicken for dinner plus a second chicken at the same time.  Use the second chicken to make soup, chicken pot pie or chicken salad or a combination of these recipes to use for snacks and lunches during the week.
  • Buy extra hamburger meat and prep it several ways - make stuffed peppers, meatballs or meatloaf. Also, press hamburger patties and freeze them for a quick and easy dinner at a later date.     
  • Cook enough bacon for Sunday breakfast or brunch plus BLTs a few days later.
  • Cook several items in the oven while it's already hot.  For instance, you could bake a meatloaf and baked potatoes at the same time.  If you want to use the baked potatoes to make baked stuffed potatoes - you have bacon from Sunday. 
  • Pre-slice and dice all of your vegetables for the week.  Healthy snacks are readily available, you can throw a salad together in minutes or just have the veggies ready for the recipes that you have planned for the weak. 
  • Prepare ahead items like quinoa, rice, lentils or beans, roasted potatoes, casseroles, soups, stews and anything else that reheats well.
  • Double a recipe and freeze the second dish for a later dinner.
  • Some dishes just taste better when they have extra time for the flavors to marry.   Marinara sauce, french onion soup, and chicken, egg and tuna salad fall in to this category. 

A little creativity and some extra planning can go a long way in the kitchen.  Take the time to create a menu plan, prepare your grocery shopping list and make your time in the kitchen as productive as possible.


Lori Keroack is the Business Office Manager of Mizner Residential Group. Lori recently moved to Delray Beach from Connecticut. She is enjoying learning about her new home town and the surrounding areas by researching and blogging about various topics that are relevant to the area.

- Lori Keroack, Business Office Manager - Mizner Residential Group

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