Family sitting around table with candlesticks inside kitchen

8 Tips for Making Cooking at Home Simple, Delicious, and Fun

As inflation continues to eat away at consumer buying power, especially at the grocery store, home-cooked meals continue to trend among American consumers. Between 79 and 80% of American meals are consumed at home, a number that hasn’t decreased even as the pandemic has somewhat loosened its grip on life.

Eating at home has its benefits—portion control, knowing what’s in your food, healthy ingredients, less expense—but if you’re not someone who enjoys the process, grocery shopping and preparing food can be a chore. Yet with a little planning, even the most kitchen-resistant among us can learn to put healthy, delicious, and simple meals on the table, and have fun doing it.

Make a plan. Spend a few minutes on the weekend planning what you’re going to cook and eat during the week. Keep in mind that you don’t have to actually cook every meal. Grill a big steak for dinner one night, save the leftovers, and you’ll have sandwiches/salads/tacos for lunch for the next couple of days. 

Make a budget and a list. (The tedious part.) Once you have a basic menu outlined, then make a shopping list, keeping in mind your food budget for the week. It’s easy to bust the budget by impulse buying lots of meat, cheeses, and expensive condiments, but meat doesn’t have to be the center of your plate at every meal. Fill in with lots of fresh vegetables and beans and use less-expensive cuts, like stew meat (for soups and stews), steak strips (for kabobs) or brisket, which will feed a crowd and still give you leftovers for sandwiches or other meals. And of course, Panorama Organic’s grass-fed ground beef is an excellent choice for burgers, meatloaf, or tacos. The key with meat is to buy the best you can afford, but then use it sparingly and extend it through more than one meal.

Stock your freezer. It’s just as easy to make a big batch of soup or stew as a small one and then freeze what you won’t eat in a few days. Just be sure to wrap it well so you don’t end up with freezer burn, and label and date it so you aren’t faced with mystery containers later. It also helps to keep a list of what’s in the freezer. A small magnetic dry erase board on the outside makes inventory management a snap. It’s super-gratifying to know that on a chilly day, you can pull a package of delicious beef stew out of the freezer and have dinner on the table in no time at all.

Stock your pantry. Buy things like beans, rice, pasta, and other staples in bulk so they’re always ready to cook when you are. Canned stocks and tomatoes are also essentials for soups and stews. But make sure you stock up on things you’ll actually use—we’re still choking our way through the gluten-free quinoa pasta we bought in bulk at the beginning of the pandemic when there wasn’t anything else in the store.

Use prepared foods. You don’t have to bake your own bread, hand make pasta, or cook anything from scratch unless you want to. Panorama Organic has created a pre-cooked line of grass-fed meatballs, sausage, and hotdogs that help you get delicious and wholesome meals on the table quickly and easily. Visit our recipe page for ideas.

Commit to trying one new recipe a week. It’s easy to get into a rut in the kitchen, always making the same set of meals over and over. It’s easy, but it can get pretty boring for both the cook and the eaters. Spend a little time on one of the thousands of recipe sites (Simply Recipes is a good place to start) and come up with a list of new things to try, then pick one each week. Experiment with a new cuisine, a new cooking method, or a new ingredient or spice. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to make it ever again, but it might add a new meal to your rotation and make things a little more interesting.

Make good use of your slow cooker and/or Instant Pot. A slow cooker is great for soups, stews, chili, or even oatmeal for a nourishing breakfast in the morning. And if you have an Instant Pot and some dry beans in the pantry, you can get a delicious soup on the table in a little over an hour without soaking or precooking the beans. It doesn’t get much easier.

Get everyone into the act. Even young kids can learn to make simple dishes like hotdog mac and cheese, so let them cook, with some adult supervision of course, one night a week. And be sure that those who don’t do the cooking are there for the clean-up. Making it a team effort is more fun than having one designated cook who has to shoulder the entire responsibility.

Finally, don’t forget to treat yourself once in a while and go out to eat. Local restaurants are still struggling to recover from the pandemic, so give them your support.

Burger with lettuce and tomatoes and side of fries

Chef’s Blend Burger

Our newest product is hitting store shelves now. Chef’s Blend ground beef is a succulent mixture of ground chuck, short rib, and brisket. It’s full of beefy flavor and juiciness for an at-home burger every bit as delicious as the one at your local steakhouse. We prefer to keep it simple to bring out the meatiness, but if you would prefer, dress it up some steak sauce or your favorite condiments. We have several different burger recipes you can also try. One thing—be careful not to overcook. This one is exceptional at medium rare.

Makes 2 half-pound burgers

  • 1 package Panorama Organic Chef’s Blend ground beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 brioche buns
  • Sliced tomato, lettuce, pickles, mustard, ketchup, or any other condiments you choose

Split the ground beef brick into two equal size chunks. Roll each chunk into a ball and then pat into a burger patty. Don’t overwork the meat. Make an indentation in the center with your finger. This will keep the patty from curling up on the grill. Place the formed patties in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to get very cold, but not frozen.

Heat the grill to high. Sprinkle the patties with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat for a minute or 2 on each side to get a sear and some grill marks. Turn the heat down and move the patties away from the hottest part of the grill. Cook until medium rare. Remove to a covered plate and let sit for 5 minutes. Toast the buns on the grill, then dress up the burgers to your taste. Serve with your favorite French fries. 

Steak on a grill with green peppers and bearnaise sauce

Tips for Grilling Grassfed Steak

When you’re ready to throw that beautiful grass-fed steak on the grill, you’ll want to pay attention and take some care to get the tastiest, most tender results. With its leaner profile, grass-fed beef tends to cook faster, so it’s important to thaw properly, use the right grill temperature, and use a meat thermometer. Don’t skip the last step, which is most important—let it rest after it comes off the grill.

Thawing:  

It’s best to thaw grass-fed beef in the refrigerator for a day, but if you’re in a pinch, you can always place the vacuum-sealed bag in cold water for a few minutes. Never use a microwave to thaw grass-fed beef. Once the steak is thawed, unwrap it and pat it dry, then let it sit at room temperature while the grill heats, for no more than 30 minutes. Don’t cook it cold straight from the refrigerator because it won’t cook evenly. 

Seasoning:

Marinades are great for adding flavor and moisture. Use your favorite or make your own. Place the steak in a glass dish with a cover and then pour the marinade over, making sure the meat is covered completely. Refrigerate for two to six hours, turning several times. Remove from the refrigerator, discard the marinade, and pat dry the steak. Allow it to sit for no more than 30 minutes before brushing with a little olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper, and then put it on the grill.

You can also use a dry rub to add flavor. Again, use your favorite or make your own. Once the steak is thawed, pat it dry and then liberally sprinkle all over with the rub. Allow to sit at room temperature for no more than 30 minutes before putting it on the grill.

If simplicity is your thing, just before putting the steak on the grill, brush it with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cooking:

Always preheat the grill. You can sear the steak before or after it’s cooked to get those nice crispy, caramelized grill marks that add so much flavor. If you want to sear first, heat the grill to high, put the steak on until you see the grill marks on both sides. Turn the heat down to 350° and cook until done. For a reverse sear, just reverse the process. 

Never use a fork to turn the beef. Always use tongs. 

Use an instant-read meat thermometer to test for doneness. Watch the temperature carefully—you can go from perfectly cooked to overdone in less than a minute. The meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat, so when it reaches a temperature ten degrees LOWER than the desired temperature, it’s done.

For grass-fed steaks, rare (125°) to medium-rare (130°) is perfect. If you go much past medium (140°), your steak is liable to be very chewy.

After you take the steak off the grill, cover it and let it sit in a warm place for five to eight minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. If you like, add a big pat of grassfed butter to add flavor, moisture, and even more benefits from healthy fat.

Raw ground beef patty with onion, tomato, and lettuce on side on wooden cutting board

Tips for Cooking the Best Grass-fed Burger Ever

We’ve all been to the barbecue where the burgers cooking on the grill smell delicious, but then, when it’s time to eat, you’re faced with a platter of hockey pucks. You pile on all kinds of condiments and vegetables to make it palatable, but still, that gray, tough, dry chunk of meat lurks at the center.

It’s not hard to make a great burger, but it takes a little care, from the time you buy the meat until you take it off the grill. By following a few basic tips, your grass-fed burgers will be the envy of your grilling neighbors.

Choose the right meat.

Start with good meat and the right fat percentage. Panorama Organic’s grass-fed, organic 85/15 blend is the perfect ratio of meat to fat. If you go too lean, your burgers will be dry. Adding an egg to the mix will give you a tad more moisture for the perfect level of juiciness.

Thaw correctly.

If you’re starting with frozen ground beef, never thaw it in the microwave. Ideally, you should defrost it in the refrigerator for a day. In a pinch, you can let the package sit in a bowl of cold (not warm) water until it thaws, changing the water several times.

Don’t overwork the beef.

Blend it gently with your hands just until the seasonings are incorporated. Too much mixing will make the burgers tough. The same rule applies when you’re making the patties. Don’t overhandle them. Also, wet your hands with water so the meat doesn’t stick.

Make a dimple in the middle of each patty with your thumb. This will help keep the shape of the patty as it cooks.

Chill the patties before you start cooking.

Unlike most meats that should be at room temperature before you put them on the heat, burgers should be as cold as you can get them without being frozen. They cook more evenly with less shrinkage and they hold together better.

Use high heat and a meat thermometer.

With grass-fed, it’s easy to overcook because it cooks quickly. Using an instant-read thermometer will help you keep from overdoing it. For medium rare, the perfect combination of pink and warm in the middle, the internal temperature should be 130 degrees F.

Flip as many times as you like.

The burgers cook quicker and more evenly. And don’t press on the patties with a spatula while they’re cooking. That squeezes all the juice out and makes them dry. 

Cook them in a cast iron pan on the stove.

If there’s snow covering your grill, don’t fret. Cast iron holds high heat evenly and the flat surface allows the burgers to cook in their own juices. Just make sure to turn on your exhaust fan.

Give them time to rest after they come off the heat.

Cover the platter with foil and let them sit for at least ten minutes while you toast the buns and get the rest of the condiments ready. That allows the juice from the surface to migrate back into the center of the meat.

Cheeseburger on bun with lettuce, tomato, and onion on wooden cutting board

Summer Burger Bash

Nothing says summer like a bunch of fat, juicy burgers on the grill, especially when they’re made with organic, grass-fed beef from American family ranches. You can always stick with the classic American cheeseburger, but to give you a little inspiration, we’ve come up with some tasty alternatives. We’ve made these into half-pound burgers, but if you prefer to eat a little lighter (and save room for the homemade ice cream), you can always make them quarter- or third-pound. Just remember to take them off the grill a few minutes sooner than the bigger burgers. Make all of the condiments and toppings in advance so they’re ready when the burgers are.

Makes 4-8 burgers

Basic Burger

  • 2 pounds Panorama organic and grassfed ground beef, preferably 85-15
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, eggs, seasoned salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Use your hands to mix only until blended. Separate the mixture into 4 equal parts (or 6 or 8, depending on the size of the burgers you want) and form the mixture into patties, about an inch thick for the half-pound burgers, a little thinner for the smaller ones.

Refrigerate until well-chilled.

Heat the grill to high and cook the burgers to the desired doneness. Medium rare is perfect. Because of the leanness of the meat, the burgers will cook faster than you might be used to. Keep an eye on them and avoid overcooking.

Remove the burgers to a sheet pan and tent with foil to allow to rest before serving.

Follow the instructions below or create your own burger.

American Classic

  • 1 slice Cheddar cheese for each burger
  • 1 bun for each burger
  • Melted butter
  • Mustard and mayonnaise to taste
  • 2 large tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • 1 red or yellow onion, sliced
  • Sliced dill pickles
  • Several leaves of lettuce

After flipping the burgers on the grill for the final time, add a slice of cheese to each. Finish cooking, allowing the cheese to melt. 

While the patties are resting, brush the insides of each bun with melted butter, then place on the grill until toasted.

Layer each bun with mustard, mayonnaise, a patty, tomato, onion, dill pickle, and lettuce. Serve immediately.

Green Chile Cheeseburger

  • 1 roasted, peeled, and seeded green chile for each burger
  • 1 slice pepper jack cheese for each burger
  • 1 thick slice red onion for each burger
  • 1 large bun for each burger
  • Melted butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime cilantro mayonnaise for each burger

After flipping the patties on the grill for the final time, add a green chile and a slice of cheese to each. Finish cooking, allowing the cheese to melt. While the patties are finishing, place a thick slice of red onion on the grill for each burger. Cook until charred and softened. Remove from the grill and reserve.

While the patties are resting, brush the inside of the buns with melted butter and toast on the grill.

To make the lime cilantro mayonnaise, add 2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro and the juice of one lime to a cup of mayonnaise. Stir well. Keeps refrigerated for up to a week.

To assemble the burgers, spread the lime cilantro mayonnaise on each bun, then layer a patty with the cheese and chile and a grilled red onion. Serve immediately.

Bacon Avocado Blue Cheese Burger

  • 1 teaspoon crumbled blue cheese for each burger, plus extra for the condiment
  • 1 large bun for each burger
  • Melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon blue cheese mayonnaise for each burger
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon, cooked crisp, for each burger
  • 2 avocados, peeled, seeded, and sliced
  • Sliced tomato and lettuce leaves, optional

After flipping the patties on the grill for the final time, sprinkle each with crumbled blue cheese. Remove from the grill and allow to rest.

Brush the inside of the buns with melted butter and toast on the grill.

Make the blue cheese mayonnaise by adding ¼ cup blue cheese crumbles to a cup of mayonnaise. Stir well.

To assemble the burgers, spread the blue cheese mayonnaise on each bun, then layer a patty with the bacon and avocado. If you desire, add sliced tomatoes and lettuce leaves.

Serve immediately.

Steakhouse Burgers

  • ½ cup A1 or your favorite steak sauce
  • 1 bun for each burger
  • Melted butter
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms, sauteed in butter
  • 1 cup caramelized onions
  • 1-2 tablespoons horseradish mayonnaise for each burger

As the burgers are cooking, brush each one with the steak sauce. When they reach the desired degree of doneness, remove from the grill and allow to rest. 

Brush the inside of the buns with melted butter and toast on the grill.

Make the horseradish mayonnaise by mixing 1 tablespoon of prepared horseradish with 1 cup of mayonnaise.

To assemble, spread the horseradish mayonnaise on each bun, then layer a patty, a portion of the mushrooms, and a portion of the onions. Serve immediately.

You can caramelize the onions and saute the mushrooms in advance and refrigerate until ready to use. Warm them before adding to the burgers.

Western Ranch Burgers

  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 slice Monterey Jack cheese for each burger
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 slices Texas toast for each burger
  • 1 thick slice red onion for each burger
  • 2 slices thick-cut pepper bacon cooked crisp for each burger
  • Sliced tomatoes and lettuce for garnish

After flipping the burgers once, brush the cooked side with a generous helping of barbecue sauce. Repeat on the other side. After flipping the last time, top each burger with a slice of cheese. When the cheese has melted, remove from the grill to a sheet pan and tent with foil to rest.

Place the onion slices on the grill and cook until slightly charred. While the onion is cooking, combine the melted butter and garlic and brush both sides of each slice of Texas toast. 

When the onion slices are almost done, place the Texas toast slices on the grill and brown on both sides.

To assemble the burgers, place a teaspoon of barbecue sauce on the bottom slice of toast, then add the burger. Top each with 2 slices of bacon, a slice of red onion, a slice of tomato, and a lettuce leaf, then drizzle with more barbecue sauce and finish with the second piece of toast.

Stuffed Pizza Burger

  • ½ pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 4 slices provolone
  • 4 slices mozzarella
  • 4 brioche buns
  • Melted butter
  • Dijon mustard
  • Sliced onion, tomato, and lettuce

Divide the meat into 8 thin patties. Refrigerate.

In a small skillet, brown the Italian sausage. Drain any excess grease and then add ½ cup pizza sauce. Simmer for five minutes.

Sprinkle the refrigerated beef patties with Italian seasoning. Divide the sausage mixture to top 4 of the beef patties. Sprinkle with parmesan. Cover with the remaining patties and seal the edges well.

Grill over high heat, turning carefully to prevent the burgers from leaking. After flipping the final time, add a slice of provolone and a slice of mozzarella to each burger. Once the cheese has melted, remove the burgers to a sheet pan and tent with foil to rest. 

Brush the inside of each bun with melted butter, then grill until toasted. 

To assemble the burgers, spread the bottom of each bun with Dijon mustard, then top with a patty, a slice of onion and tomato, and a lettuce leaf. Drizzle the remaining pizza sauce over each burger and top with the other half of the bun.

Southern-style Burgers

  • 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
  • 1 large burger bun for each burger
  • Melted butter
  • Spicy Remoulade Sauce (recipe follows)
  • Fried Green Tomatoes (recipe follows)

Make the remoulade and refrigerate.

Before placing the patties on the grill, sprinkle with the Creole seasoning. When the burgers are finished, remove from the grill and tent with foil to rest. Brush the buns with melted butter and toast on the grill.

While the burgers are on the grill and then resting, make the fried green tomatoes.

To assemble the burgers, place a teaspoon of remoulade on the bottom bun, then add the burger and a couple of slices of fried green tomatoes. Drizzle generously with more remoulade, then top with the rest of the bun.

Spicy Remoulade Sauce:

  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • ½ teaspoon dill pickle juice
  • ½ teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed

Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, paprika, Creole seasoning, horseradish, pickle juice, hot sauce, and garlic until well-blended. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

Fried Green Tomatoes

  • 3 large green (unripe) tomatoes, cut into thick slices
  • Salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¾  cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
  • ½ cup fine cornmeal
  • Sunflower oil for frying

Sprinkle the sliced tomatoes with salt and allow to stand for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour to let the liquid release. 

Stir together the egg and buttermilk in a small, wide bowl. Combine ½ cup of flour with the seasoning in another small wide bowl, and the cornmeal and remaining flour in a third bowl.

Heat the oil at a depth of about ½ inch in a medium-size skillet to 350. 

Dredge each tomato slice in the seasoned flour, then dip in the egg mixture, and finally, dredge in the cornmeal. Place in the heated oil and fry until brown on each side. Using a slotted spatula, remove to a paper towel-covered plate. Avoid stacking the fried tomatoes to keep them crisp. Keep warm.