How to Host a Fabulous Spring Brunch 

The earliest signs of spring are fabulous. Birds chirping, tiny green buds on the trees, and flowers popping through. New life emerging from the depths of winter is certainly worth celebrating! Whether you’ve been wanting an excuse to get together with friends to embrace the warmer weather, are celebrating Easter, or just want to try your hand at some new recipes, hosting a spring brunch is a great way to collect loved ones and friends all in one place. At Nick’s of Calvert, we can help you plan your brunch menu and are your one-stop shop for everything you need, from fresh produce to ingredients for boozy brunch cocktails.

Tips for Hosting the Perfect Brunch

If you’re not a regular host of brunch, you may be a bit intimidated by the idea of inviting a group of people over for a large midday meal. Fortunately, with a little bit of planning and help from the pros, you can put together a brunch that will impress—and leave you confident in your ability to do it again! 

  • Set your menu/theme in advance. Planning for a great brunch starts with thinking about your menu and your theme in advance. We recommend identifying your “why” for hosting a spring brunch, as well as honing in on some general food themes. This can help to inform your invite list and let your guests know what to expect, as well as whether or not they’re expected to bring something, what the attire is, etc. It will also help you have a clear idea of how much food you’ll need and what your shopping list may look like! Not to mention how much time and effort you’ll need to put into food prep! 
  • Send invites with plenty of notice. If you want to make sure that the majority of your guest list is able to attend, you should get invites out at least two weeks in advance. Spring can be a busy time, and the Easter holiday can be especially packed. If you can’t get an invite out with all the details, try to at least send a save-the-date, with a promise for more information to come. 
  • Do your shopping early. As the day of your spring brunch approaches, don’t make the mistake of waiting until the very last minute to go to the grocery store! Not only do you run the risk of cutting yourself too short on time to be able to prep everything you’ve planned for, but you also risk the store not having a key ingredient that you need. Make your list and buy all that you need a few days in advance. Being able to check this off the list will give you peace of mind. And remember, at Nick’s of Calvert, we have everything you need in one location, including beverage and dessert options! 
  • Prep the night before. Rather than attempting to do everything the morning of your spring brunch, spend the night (or even a day or two!) before getting everything ready. Many dishes can be baked in advance and then heated up. At the very least, you can chop veggies, set the table, and pre-make any sauces. 
  • Make it easy! One of the most important things to remember whenever you’re hosting is that it’s okay to make things easy on yourself. For example, consider setting up a self-serve brunch station so that you’re not responsible for dishing out food, amongst the many other tasks that’ll be on your plate. Or, choose no-bake dishes, like a fresh fruit salad or charcuterie board. 
  • Don’t forget the must-haves. Finally, don’t forget the must-have brunch items. These include things such as:
    • Coffee – aim to serve both a standard and a decaf option, as well as tea!
    • Eggs – no matter the theme of your brunch, eggs are a staple at brunch. Make sure you serve at least one egg-forward dish.
    • Something sweet – even for the health-conscious, having something sweet on the menu is a must, especially if most of your brunch items are savory. 

Start Shopping Today!

At Nick’s of Calvert, we are fully stocked with all of the items that you need for a perfect brunch, from disposable plates and cutlery to the finest meats and freshest vegetables. We also have a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, juices, and coffees. We also have plenty of pre-made options if you want to save time on your brunch preparations, as well as desserts and appetizers. To learn more about our store or ask a question, reach out to us today at 410-414-7105 today.

Too Tired to Meal Prep? Make Your Proteins Ahead of Time

Preparing individual meals every night can get exhausting. Just thinking about all the ingredients you need and the work you’ll have to do before dinner hits the table can be stressful and make you lose your appetite. One solution is advance meal prepping, but many people find preparing entire meals for the week in advance to be equally stressful. 

Fortunately, there is a middle ground that can give you some relief. When you make your proteins in advance, it saves a ton of time in the kitchen later. You can probably save some money with this strategy, too. Here’s what you need to know about this form of meal prepping and some ways you use it. 

Simple Meal Prepping Trick — Make Your Proteins in Advance

Some people spend an entire day cooking all of their meals for the coming week in advance. Not everyone wants to sacrifice this much time and effort, especially if there are other things you’d rather be doing on the weekend. One simple meal-prepping strategy that works well is cooking all your proteins for the week in one batch. 

Batch cooking is simply the act of cooking items in bulk. And you don’t have to hover over a stove or grill to get the job done, either. Many people use cooking techniques like pressure cooking, roasting, or slow cooking, so you can let items cook slowly while you do other things. 

How to Batch Cook Your Proteins to Save Time and Money

One of the first things you usually think about when planning your weekly grocery shopping is protein. When you batch cook these items, you can save a lot of time in your daily meal prep. Here are some tips for making different proteins ahead of time. 



Hard-boiled eggs are simple to make and store for the coming week. Simply boil water in a pot, drop in up to a dozen eggs, reduce the water to a simmer, and let the eggs cook for about 12 minutes. Let the water cool before removing the eggs to store them in the fridge. You can use them in recipes and salads and pack them in lunches throughout the week. 



Pre-cooked roasted chicken can be used as a main course for a meal alongside some steamed veggies. It is also great for sandwiches and salad toppers. Even better, it only takes about an hour to prepare. 


You can also purchase some boneless, skinless chicken breasts to prepare in your slow cooker. An easy shredded chicken recipe will take about five hours to cook. This is an excellent main ingredient for meals like taco night or burrito bowls. 



While steak doesn’t taste great when it’s pre-cooked, meatloaf sure does. Using 2-3 pounds of ground beef, you can make a delicious meatloaf recipe in a regular rectangular loaf pan. It will take about an hour to bake. Then, you can serve it later in the week with your choice of veggies and potatoes. 


Pulled Pork Loin

Pork loin is low in fat and makes a healthy choice for a pre-cooked meal. You can put a 2-3 lb pork loin in your slow cooker for up to six hours on low. This is excellent served as a main dish, made into sandwiches, or used as a taco filling. 


Roasted Turkey Breast

Turkey is a low-fat protein that you’ll want to leave whole and slice as you use it for each meal. This will prevent it from drying out. You can cook a whole turkey breast (skin-on) in advance in under two hours. This is another protein you can serve as a main dish or use for lunches throughout the week. 


Sauteed Shrimp

If you plan to pre-cook seafood, only cook what you’re going to consume over the next several days. Otherwise, it will begin to smell fishy unless you decide to freeze what you’ve prepared. Sauteed shrimp is an excellent option because it’s super quick to prepare and easy to freeze. Then, you can reheat the shrimp with your choice of pasta or rice. 

Find All of Your Proteins and Other Meal Ingredients at Nick’s of Calvert

Whether you choose to do a full meal prep or batch prepare your proteins, you need quality ingredients. Nick’s of Calvert has you covered. For decades, we have been carrying the highest quality meats, deli items, produce, and other food products and offering customers the helpful service they deserve. We even have many premade options and a large selection of beer, wine, and spirits to complement your meal. Feel free to give us a call at (410) 414-7105 or visit our store in Prince Frederick. 

How to Plan Your Grocery List to Make Your Shopping Trip a Breeze

It happened again — you came home from the grocery store only to realize you forgot to buy at least two things you needed. It’s never a good feeling. While creating a grocery list might seem like just another chore, it can save you a lot of time and frustration. 

But not all grocery lists are the same. You can have a great shopping list or one that will have you circling the store multiple times. Here is why you should make a grocery list and some effective strategies for planning your grocery shopping to make it more efficient. 

Why You Should Create a Grocery List

Grocery shopping is something most of us do at least weekly. But how each person approaches their grocery store visit is a bit different. Just winging it will probably result in you feeling overwhelmed or coming home with items you don’t really need. If you’re reluctant to commit, here are just a few of the benefits of creating a grocery list. 

  • Saves time — You save a ton of time with a grocery list by reducing time wandering around the store and making repeat trips to pick up forgotten items. 
  • Saves money — You’ll be less likely to overspend when you closely track what you need to buy with a list. 
  • Reduces stress — Circling the store ten times after work is exhausting and stressful. A well-ordered list can make your grocery shopping trips more enjoyable. 
  • Improves health — Who doesn’t want to eat a bit healthier? Having a grocery list can help you avoid the temptation to buy junk food and make better buying choices instead.
  • Reduces waste — Billions of pounds of food are wasted in the U.S. alone each year. When you avoid buying food you don’t need or won’t eat, you can make a dent in these numbers. 

How to Plan a Grocery List to Make Shopping Easier

These steps will show you how to make a list that is so organized it will save you time, money, and stress. It’s going to transform your grocery shopping experience. 

1. Meal Plan

Meal planning is an excellent way to ensure you’re only buying items you plan to consume. If you can stay this organized, create a meal plan for the next week and use it to make your shopping list. 

2. Take an Inventory

You can reduce waste, save money, and make your shopping go faster if you avoid buying things you already have in your cabinets. As you create your list, take an inventory of what’s in the pantry and refrigerator. You might also notice a few things you need. 

3. Keep a Running List

Keeping a running list of items you replenish each week, like milk, butter, eggs, and cereal. Don’t forget non-food items like paper towels and household cleaners. 

4. Look for Coupons

One money-saving tip is to look up any specials or coupons available as you create your weekly list. Maybe there’s a cereal or spaghetti sauce you can try that is on special. Or there might be a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) special on items you buy each week, like toilet paper. 

5. Organize Your List by Aisles

One of the best ways to plan your grocery shopping trips is to organize your list based on the grocery store’s layout. This ensures your visit is efficient, and you won’t have to zig-zag around the store. Simply organize your list according to the store’s basic sections, like:

  • Produce
  • Deli
  • Meat
  • Bakery
  • Frozen foods
  • Dairy
  • Household Goods
  • Inner aisles (canned goods, packed food, etc.)

6. Specify Quantities

Quantities are important when creating your list. Make sure you write down how many of each item you need. You don’t want to end up standing in front of the yogurt section, trying to recall if you need one or five items. 

7. Check Off Items

It’s just as important that you check off items on your list as you move through the store. If you fail to do this, it can be easy to miss something as you continually scan the list. As you make a line through each item, you can easily see what you still need to add to your cart. 

Shop Local at Nick’s of Calvert

Now that you know how to make the perfect grocery shopping list, it’s time to fill up your cart with delicious food. Nick’s of Calvert would love to be your grocery store of choice. Over the past half-century, our family-run business has been dedicated to serving the needs of its local customers throughout Southern Maryland. 

We offer the highest quality of meats, deli items, and ready-to-serve food, at some of the most affordable prices. We also have a wide variety of beer, wine, and spirits to complement your meals. Visit us or give us a call today at (410) 414-7105.

How to Host a Kentucky Derby-Themed Party

The Kentucky Derby is right around the corner. Slated for Saturday, May 6th, if you haven’t already started planning for your Kentucky Derby-themed cookout, there’s not a moment more to waste. At Nick’s of Calvert, we have everything you need to plan the perfect party, from pre-made appetizers to the freshest ingredients for cooking to liquor and more. Visit our store today to stock up and find everything on your grocery list. In the meantime, read on for these tips on how to host a Kentucky Derby-themed party—

Get Invites Out in Advance

Since there’s less than a month to go before it’s derby day, you want to prep your invites now. Don’t wait a minute longer to get those out! For expediency, consider using an online invite, such as Paperless Post or Evite. In fact, you can even just text your invite list to get it on people’s calendars ASAP. Make sure when you send the invites out you also request that guests RSVP at least a week in advance. This way, you’ll know exactly how much food to prepare and how many people you’ll need to accommodate. 

Set Your Dress Code

One of the most fun things about hosting a Kentucky Derby-themed party is the dress code! While you can of course do what you’d like—it is your party, after all—ladies typically wear pastel-colored dresses that are flowy and floral. Men also tend to wear pastels, but may also . choose bold separates. Suits are optional for men, but encouraged. Of course, the hats are where all of the fun really is! In fact, if you’re not familiar with the Kentucky Derby, then you should tune in just to watch the Kentucky Derby hat parade, which has been called, “The greatest two minutes in sports.” 

Plan Your Menu

Once you know who you’re inviting and how many guests to plan on (and what they’ll wear!), it’s now time to think about the menu. When it comes to menu planning, there are a lot of options available to you, but you probably want to add some traditional Southern dishes to the mix. A few popular Southern dishes that you might consider include:

  • Burgoo. Burgoo is a stew that’s similar to an Irish Mulligan’s stew. This recipe takes time and care to prepare, so don’t choose it if you’re in a rush! Featuring lima beans, corn, carrots, onion, celery, and usually at least three different types of meat, this is a favorite dish that’s sure to please if you do have the time for it! 
  • Bourbon balls. Your menu wouldn’t be complete without something sweet on the table, and bourbon balls are the perfect treat. These sweet, simple desserts are made from butter, bourbon, pecans, chocolate, and powdered sugar. 
  • Derby pie. Another delicious dessert to have on the table—and one that’s appropriately named at that—is Derby pie. Also made with bourbon, derby pie is made from chocolate chips, eggs, and flour. 
  • Kentucky hot browns. Moving forward with more savory dishes, Kentucky hot browns are always a crowd favorite. A Kentucky hot brown is a type of open-faced sandwich, and features sliced turkey breast, tomato, and bacon, is smothered with a cheese- and cream-based sauce, and then is baked! Yummy! 

Of course, these are far from the only delicious Southern foods you could incorporate. Get creative and try something new! 

Buy the Freshest Ingredients

In addition to all of the delicious (and, ahem, admittedly a little bit unhealthy) dishes above, you can also incorporate a fresh salad or two and some fresh fruit. To get all of the ingredients you need, from seasonal produce to the best cuts of meats and everything in between, head to Nick’s of Calvert. When you buy fresh, high-quality ingredients for your recipes, food tastes better and is better for you. 

Don’t Forget the Drinks

A Kentucky Derby party just wouldn’t be complete without drinks. Whether you’re buying liquor, wine, or beer, or are planning to make mocktails, Nick’s of Calvert has all of the liquor, mixers, and more that you’ll need! You’ll also find cups, plates, and utensils that are disposable so that cleaning up from your party is just as easy as preparing for it. 

Visit Nick’s of Calvert Today 

At Nick’s of Calvert, we love a good Kentucky Derby-themed party and we hope that you do too. If you’re looking for fresh ingredients and menu items that everyone will love, we have you covered. Visit our store today or call us directly to learn more about our prepared foods and fine selection. We look forward to seeing you! 

How to Create a Romantic Valentine’s Dinner at Home

Whether you’re celebrating with your significant other for the first time or the twentieth, you’re probably already trying to come up with some winning Valentine’s Day dinner ideas. Not every couple wants to battle the masses for reservations at the trendiest restaurant in town. The truth is you can have a special and romantic evening right in your own home. 

There’s a lot to be said for not having to book a babysitter or pay for an expensive prix fixe menu. But Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be just another home-cooked dinner night. You should always step it up a notch by making the atmosphere and food as romantic as possible. Here are some tips for creating a romantic Valentine’s dinner at home. 

Choose Your Location

Your first step will be deciding where in your home you are going to have the meal. Sure, you can choose the dining room table. But there are other options. For example, you can set up an indoor picnic with a nice blanket, picnic basket, and some pillows for comfort. 

Another idea is to set up a small folding table somewhere in your home, such as in front of the fireplace or window. Cover it with a nice tablecloth, and you have the makings of a restaurant-worthy seating area. 

Presenting Your Dinner

Once you’ve chosen a location, you’ll want to make it look amazing. Put out your special dishes and tableware that only come out for special occasions. Grab some fresh flowers from your garden or the grocery store to use as a centerpiece. Don’t forget your favorite glassware for those special drinks. Finally, if you’re cooking a fancy meal, you can even create a print-out of a personalized menu to lie on the plates and commemorate your meal. 

Romantic Dinner Drinks

It’s common to plan some drinks to go along with your romantic dinner date. Wine and champagne are classic Valentine’s Day drinks that will set the mood. You can also choose alcohol-free versions and extra garnishes, such as strawberries or raspberries, to make your drinks seem more luxurious. You can also try your hand at mixing your own cocktails or mocktails to complement your meal. 

Valentines-Worthy Ingredients

When you’re celebrating a special day like Valentine’s Day, you should give some thought to your ingredients. Consider the concept of “umami,” which is Japanese for a “pleasant, savory taste.” Most people are fond of these flavors, so it makes sense to include them in a special meal. Foods that include them are things like beef, pork, chicken, and seafood. Others include aged cheeses, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and asparagus. 

Certain foods are also considered aphrodisiacs, so you might want to explore a few of these. While science may not fully back up the idea of food influencing feelings, there’s always the power of suggestion. Foods included on this list include lobster, figs, oysters, okra, and even red wine. 

Cooking a Meal Together

Smithsonian Magazine reports that creative projects, like baking and cooking, are mood-lifting and inspire positivity. Cooking together is a great way to inspire communication and spend some quality time creating something you’ll both enjoy. 

To make this activity successful and not stressful, it’s a good idea to divide up the responsibilities. After 30 minutes or so, you might want to switch roles to keep it interesting. 

Fun Valentine’s Activities

If you and your partner enjoy games, think about having a blindfolded taste test as part of your meal. You can do this with drinks, different cheeses, desserts, or just about anything. One partner will wear a blindfold as they taste items prepared by others and try to guess their names or ingredients. 

Another trend in dining that you both might find a lot of fun is to cook part of your meal at the table. For example, who doesn’t love cheese or chocolate fondue? Another option is to place a small girl or hot stone in the center of your table that can cook meat or vegetables. 

Delicious Valentine’s Desserts

Finally, even if you typically skip dessert, this is a night you might want to indulge. You can grab a pre-made fancy dessert from your local bakery. Or, you can whip something up at home, such as brownies or a chocolate cake. 

Get Everything You Need for Your Romantic Valentine’s Dinner at Nick’s of Calvert

No matter which of these romantic Valentine’s Day dinner suggestions you decide to incorporate into your plans, you’re going to need some supplies. Nick’s of Calvert has everything you could possibly need, from specialty meats and cheeses to the freshest produce. Our full service meat counter is the centerpiece of our store. We offer many pre-made items to supplement your meal and sell a full selection of beer, wine, and liquor. Visit our location today or call us at (410) 414-7105 with any questions. 

Comfort Food Recipes to Get You Through the Winter

One of the most challenging things about cooking for yourself and eating well is knowing what to cook. During the wintertime, the opportunity for meats, stewed veggies, and warm, yummy comfort food is top of mind. To help get you through the winter, here are a few easy and delicious—and mainly healthy!—comfort food recipes to turn to. While some of the recipes require more time to prepare, many are quick and easy and are perfect for the busy parent. 

Beef Stew

One of the easiest and most classic wintertime recipes is a beef stew (or lamb stew). There are dozens of recipe versions out there, so take your time looking through a few if you want. One beef stew recipe that we love is this easy Instant Pot one that features all of the classic stew ingredients like onions, garlic, carrots, and potatoes but can be prepared and cooked in just over an hour. Here’s a slow cooker version of another stew if you have the time or don’t have a pressure cooker.  

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

For many, nothing sounds tastier on a cold winter day than chicken and dumplings. While this recipe requires a slow cooker and therefore demands some preparation, the recipe itself is very easy and straightforward. In fact, prep time is only 10 minutes! Just be sure to give yourself the full five hours of cook time. Note: while this recipe is delicious, it is made with canned soup and refrigerated biscuit dough, neither of which are the healthiest choices. It’s always best to cook using fresh, non-processed ingredients when possible. 

Kalua Pork

If you want something that’s super delicious, easy to prepare, and fast, Kalua pork is a great option. Chef Michelle Tam of NomNom Paleo has created an Instant Pot Kalua pork recipe that is Whole30-approved and requires a mere 10 minutes of prep time. Served alongside mashed sweet potatoes or the recommended cooked cabbage, this dish is sure to be a hit in your home and is great for serving guests.  


Most people eat more meat in the wintertime in keeping with the seasons, as fruits and vegetables that are fresh aren’t in abundance. While ribs notoriously take hours to prepare and perfect, The Castaway Kitchen has a recipe that requires only 15 minutes of prep time. These tasty, flavorful ribs use garlic, apple cider vinegar, ginger, peach, and coffee grounds to bring out bold, savory flavors. Cook time is 3.5 hours. 

Rotisserie-Style Chicken

One of the yummiest and easiest wintertime meals is a rotisserie chicken, which you can pick up prepared and ready to eat from Nick’s of Calvert on your way home from work any day. If you want to prepare your own, this rotisserie-style chicken (that’s actually cooked in an oven) has great reviews and is simple to make, requiring 15 minutes of prep time and under 1.5 hours of cooking time. This is a super easy and healthy chicken recipe that can be served alongside veggies, a salad, or mashed potatoes for a hearty yet healthy meal. 

Mushroom Risotto 

Creamy, savory, and packed with nutrient-rich mushrooms, a great mushroom risotto really hits the spot. This vegetarian recipe is also gluten-free. Loaded with butter, cream, and freshly grated parmesan, you won’t find anyone who doesn’t love this dish. While the ingredients are straightforward, note that this dish does require constant stirring, so make sure you have about a full hour to commit to this meal before you start making it. You can serve this alongside another dish, such as a salad or chicken, but it’s also hearty enough to be eaten alone as the main course without any sides. 

Find All of Your Wintertime Recipe Ingredients at Nick’s of Calvert

Whether you’re looking for fresh mushrooms, the prime cuts of meat, spices, or a great wine to sip on while preparing all of your wintertime meals, Nick’s of Calvert has you covered. For years we have been carrying the highest quality meats, produce, and other food products and providing customers with the attentive customer service they deserve. And while we have all of the ingredients that you might need to prepare a yummy wintertime meal, we also sell premade comfort food options for those nights when you just don’t have the time or energy to cook. To learn more about what we carry or to ask a question, feel free to call us at (410) 414-7105. We open at 9:00 a.m. on the weekends and 10:00 a.m. on the weekdays. 

Packing a Healthy Lunch for School

The new school year is well underway, and that means it’s time for parents to start packing lunches again. While creating lunch menus can feel like a chore, parents should avoid the temptation to just toss anything available into the lunchbox. After all, you want your kids to eat a nutritious meal. But how can you put something together that is also quick and easy?

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that children aged two years and up follow a healthy eating pattern that includes a variety of protein foods, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and oils. The guidelines recommend that children limit their intake of calories from added sugars, sodium, and solid fats. 

The benefits of a healthy diet include maintaining healthy body weight, improved academic performance, and reduced risk of developing serious health conditions. So, how do you pack a healthy lunch for school that your kids will actually want to eat? Here are some helpful tips. 

Stock Your Fridge with Healthy Foods

If you have too much unhealthy food lying around, it can be too much of a temptation for you and your kids to consume them. So, packing healthy lunches starts with what you purchase at your local grocery store. Fortunately, your neighborhood grocer is going to make it easy to buy nutritious and delicious-tasting food. 

When you go shopping, start reading the Nutrition Facts Label on the foods you want to buy. These labels are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They will tell you important information, such as how many calories and nutrients are in a single serving as well as the % of the Daily Value of certain items, like calcium or Vitamin D. 

Include Plenty of Protein 

Protein food sources are not only good for your child, but they also help them feel fuller for longer. This can carry them through the day without the need to include additional snacks, which might be unhealthy. 

Remember, there are more protein options than just meat. So, even if you include a deli sandwich in your child’s lunch, you can supplement that with something like a cheese stick, some milk, or a small container of yogurt. Here are some protein-rich foods you can use as staples for your child’s nutritious lunch:

  • 1 oz of poultry, meat, or seafood
  • 1 yogurt cup
  • 1 egg
  • ½ oz of nuts (peanuts, almonds, trail mix)
  • 6-8 oz milk
  • 1 granola bar
  • 1 oz cheese
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter

Add Some Whole Grains

You also want to ensure that your child has at least one serving of whole grains in their lunch. These are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which will also help them stay full longer. When you are looking at grains, it’s recommended that at least 50% of your child’s intake be whole grains instead of refined grains like white bread. Here are some excellent options:

  • 1 slice of whole wheat bread
  • ½ cup brown rice
  • 5 whole grain crackers
  • 1 cup whole grain cereal
  • ½ cup whole grain pasta
  • 3 cups of popcorn

Don’t Forget Fruits & Veggies

It’s also essential that your child’s healthy lunch includes some fruits and vegetables. Try to pack at least one serving of each. The veggies can be part of a sandwich or on their own. Likewise, the fruit can be considered a sweet dessert. Here are some options:

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 mandarin orange
  • ¼ cup dried fruit
  • 1 cup berries, grapes, or melon
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup cucumbers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, or celery
  • 1 cup spinach or lettuce
  • 1 cup 100% fruit juice

Make it Fun

Now that you know how to make a well-rounded and nutritious school lunch, how can you make sure your child will eat it? Here are a few ideas:

  • Get your child involved — Ask your child what they want to be included in their lunch and involve them in the preparation. 
  • Use fun containers — Let your child pick out a favorite lunchbox at the store or even make their own, so they are excited about carrying it to school and using it every day. 
  • Mix it up — Avoid packing the same thing day after day. Create enough variety so that your child won’t get bored with their meals. 
  • Make it interesting — Try using foods with different colors or cutting sandwiches, fruits, and veggies into fun shapes to keep things interesting. 

Shop for Healthy Lunch Items at Nick’s of Calvert

If you want to pack your children’s lunch with healthy food and snack items, make sure you visit Nick’s of Calvert. For over 50 years, our family-run business has been devoted to serving the needs of its local Southern Maryland customers. 

We are a unique and ideal alternative to large chain stores, with full-service deli and meat departments and high-quality customer service. Visit us or give us a call today at (410) 414-7105. 

Burgers, Burgers, Burgers – Choosing the Best Meat for Your Burger

Ground beef is the most popular choice of meat when it comes to making an amazing burger. But head to your local grocery store and the options can get confusing quickly. What percentage of fat should you choose? What about other types of meat? Should you mix any together? Here is what you need to know about choosing the best meat for your burger and getting it ready for the grill. 

What Percentage of Fat is Best for a Burger?

The ideal burger is going to be flavorful, juicy, and still able to hold together well enough that it won’t turn into a pile of mush as soon as you pick it up. The best way to control your burger’s texture is to regulate the amount of fat contained in the meat. This might sound complex, but it’s easier than you might think. 

You should aim for a burger that has about 15 to 20 percent fat. This ratio is enough fat to give you delicious flavor from the meat, but your burger won’t become too dry when you grill it. 

If you’re aiming for this perfect ratio with a single cut of meat, this means that some cuts won’t be suitable. For example, it’s tempting to use the best cut for your burgers, like beef sirloin. But that meat will be too lean, and your burgers will end up being dry. The same idea applies to a fatty meat like ribeye. The flavor will be delicious, but the additional fat content will lead the burger to either fall apart while you’re cooking or eating it. 

The great news is that you can achieve that ideal 15 to 20 percent ratio by pairing leaner cuts of beef with fattier ones to get the texture and flavor you want. 

Choosing the Best Meat for Your Burger

When it comes to creating a delicious burger, Ground Round is one of the best options. This is because it has the ideal fat content percentage of 15 to 20 percent. This perfect ratio of fat to lean meat means that your burger is going to have that perfect beefy taste, but it won’t fall to pieces the moment you bite into it. If you use other lean cuts, you may wish to add more fat to the mix to achieve the ideal 80/20 ratio. 

Some of the best beef cuts for burgers include:

  • Ground Round — As stated above, this cut does well on its own as a reliable option for creating delicious burgers. Round meat can be from top round or bottom round. 
  • Brisket — Brisket has incredibly high fat content and great beef flavor. It’s a good cut to mix with leaner meats to elevate the fat content. 
  • Boneless short rib — This one has excellent fat content and flavor. 
  • Tri-tip and sirloin — These have excellent flavor but are lean, so you’ll want to mix in a cut with some higher fat content. 

Remember, you can combine any meat you want to get the perfect flavor and fat content. It doesn’t have to be all beef, either. Many people like to include ground pork, which has a high fat content. Ground chicken or turkey are other options with lower fat content.

Much of this comes down to your preferences. Part of the fun is in experimenting with different cuts to get the one that suits your tastes perfectly. 

Preparing Your Burger Patty for Grilling

Usually, you’ll want a coarse grind for your meat when making burgers. This is what most grocery stores sell. You can also ask your butcher to customize your order. 

When you shape your burger patties, this is also the time to include any additional ingredients, such as garlic, salt and pepper, various herbs, and chopped onions. While it’s sometimes tempting to load your meat with different flavors and seasonings, this isn’t necessary. In fact, too many extras can cause your burger to fall apart while cooking. When you use the right combination of meat, your burger is going to be delicious. 

Get the Best Cuts of Meat at Nick’s of Calvert

Now that you know how to choose the best meat for your burger, it’s time to go shopping. Nick’s of Calvert is your hometown grocery store offering the highest-quality products at the best prices. For over half a century, Nick’s has offered its community an alternative to large chain stores. 

Our full-service meat counter is the centerpiece of our store. We provide the freshest meats for your next grilling meal. And, if you need help selecting the right cut or accompanying products, we’d be happy to help. Visit us or contact us today. 

What Does a Food Label Really Tell You?

The information printed on food labels might seem excessive and sometimes overwhelming. But it’s intended to help consumers make more informed choices about their food. The front, back, and sides of the food packages contain information about the food’s contents and origin. But all of those terms, figures, and percentages can sometimes lead to even more confusion. 

The reasons we read food labels can vary as well. You might want to limit your intake of calories or sugar with weight loss in mind. You might also have a serious health concern, such as a peanut allergy. Or you may just want to do business with brands that are more sustainable. Whatever your goals, here is how you can interpret much of the information printed on food labels. 

The Nutrition Facts Label

The first label most people look at is the Nutrition Facts Label, which is overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The label was first mandated in 1990 and has undergone revisions since based on public and scientific input. The information you will get from this label includes:

  • Serving Information — How many servings are in the container and the size of each serving. Many serving sizes are surprisingly small. 
  • Calories — How many calories you get from one serving. This is an important point to consider because many people consume more than a serving of food, so calories can quickly add up. 
  • Nutrients — A list of key nutrients that affect your health (good and bad) and the % of Daily Value included in just one serving of the item. It’s a good idea to compare the %DV for nutrients in similar products to eliminate those with things you want less of, like sodium, and include items with good nutrients, like vitamin D or calcium.

Nutrients to Get Less Of

Sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars are nutrients associated with negative health effects, and also ones we tend to overconsume. Eating too much sodium and saturated fat, for instance, is associated with things like high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Consuming too much added sugars makes it challenging to stay within daily recommended calorie limits. 

Total Sugars vs. Added Sugars

Nutrition labels will list Total Sugars and Added Sugars. There’s a difference. Some nutritious foods, like strawberries and milk, contain natural sugars. They have a sweet taste, making them attractive choices. But added sweeteners, like syrup, can significantly increase the calories per serving of an item. 

Nutrients to Get More Of

Vitamin D, dietary fiber, iron, calcium, and potassium are nutrients listed on the Nutrition Label that Americans generally don’t get enough of. Getting the recommended daily value of these items can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, anemia, osteoporosis, and other health issues. 

Side and Back-of-Package Labels

Ingredients List

The FDA also oversees the ingredients list on food labels. Ingredients must be listed in order of prominence by weight. And common terms may be added next to more unfamiliar names to provide clarity. 

Allergy Information

According to federal law, eight major food allergens must be listed on the package near the ingredients list. These are milk, peanuts, wheat, shellfish, fish, soybeans, eggs, and tree nuts. Sesame will be added to the list in 2023. 

Freshness Dates

There should also be a “sell by,” “use by,” or “best if used by” date on the package. These dates aren’t required by federal law, but some states have their own guidelines. 

Front of Package Labels

Even though this is the first thing many consumers see as they walk through the grocery store, this part of the label is more branding than anything else. However, many food makers will place some graphics and symbols on the front of their labels that can be helpful. 

If you’re looking for organic, gluten-free, or sustainable choices, the label might have a symbol that indicates these options. Many food items will also make claims, such as being “reduced fat,” “low sodium.” or “high fiber.” These claims aren’t regulated, so be sure to verify the information by reading the official Nutrition Facts Label on the back. 

Ask Your Local Grocer for Help Deciphering Food Labels

Understanding what’s in the food you buy is essential to stocking a kitchen full of nutritious items. If you’re not sure how to interpret a food label, ask your local grocer for some assistance. 

Nick’s of Calvert is your hometown grocery store. For over 50 years, we have been serving the Southern Maryland community with high-quality products and exceptional customer service. Visit us today, and we’d be happy to provide any assistance you need. 

5 Things Every Chef Should Have in Their Kitchen

Whether you’re a novice chef or on your way to becoming an expert, if you like to cook, then there are certain things that are must-haves in your kitchen. At Nick’s of Calvert, not only do we have plenty of kitchen appliances and cooking utensils for sale, but we also offer a full range of fruits, vegetables, proteins, wines, and everything else that you need for a delicious meal. Consider this list of five things we believe that every chef should have in their kitchen, and visit our location in person to learn more about all of the wares we offer.

1. A Great Knife

Most chefs would agree that the number one item a good cook needs is a great knife. While some chefs like a range of knife types for all of the various things that need to be cut (i.e. a knife for bread, a knife for fish, a knife for slicing veggies, etc.), most novice chefs can get away with having a single great knife. With that in mind, actually selecting a single knife for your kitchen is a bigger task! This article from serious eats provides a review of some of the best chef knives. Winners include the Wüsthof 8-Inch Classic Chef’s Knife, Mercer Culinary 8-Inch Genesis Chef’s Knife, and Mercer Culinary 8-Inch Millennia Chef’s Knife. We also recommend investing in a knife sharpener, too.

2. A Good (Large) Cutting Board

What would be the use of a knife without a complimentary cutting board? A great cutting board is a must in every chef’s kitchen. A nice woodblock cutting board can be used for everything from meats to veggies, and can also be a nice aesthetic in the kitchen, too! If you’re concerned about cross-contamination when cooking, you can invest in a second cutting board that’s dishwasher safe, and use this one for raw fish and meat.

3. Mixing Bowls and Measuring Cups

For all of your food preparation needs, be sure to have a good set of mixing bowls (at least three, preferably in three different sizes) and a good set of measuring cups. We recommend stainless steel mixing bowls, which look great, won’t stain or absorb flavors, and are dishwasher safe. For measuring cups and spoons, any material will do. If you’re trying to limit kitchen purchases, measuring spoons aren’t as necessary—most home teaspoons and tablespoons will work just great.

4. High-Quality Cookware

A knife, cutting board, and measuring bowls and cups are all for the pre-work of creating a great meal. When it’s time to actually put fire to iron, you want a great set of high-quality cookware for the job. Things to look for in cookware include:

Versatility. A pan or skillet that you can cook multiple dishes in is strongly recommended. Ask yourself whether it’s worth investing in a piece of cookware that you’re only likely to use once.

Safety. Many non-stick pans have a lining that contains PFUAs and PFOAs—forever chemicals that can cause harm to health and the environment. Be sure to opt for cookware that’s safe for your family.

Durability. While it may not be ideal to spend the money upfront, investing in something quality that will last for years to come will help your budget in the long run, as well as your peace of mind.

We love a cast iron skillet as a kitchen staple. If you’re not ready for cast iron, a non-toxic steel skillet can be a great alternative.

5. Hand Mixer or Blender/Food Processor

Finally, unless you have a lot of time and muscle, we strongly recommend investing in a hand mixer or a blender (or better yet—a food processor) for any mixing jobs that you have in mind. A hand mixer can save a lot of time when it comes to prepping baked goods, beating egg whites, making whipped cream, and dozens of other things. If it’s in your budget, getting a food processor with multiple functions and a hand mixer is ideal.

Visit Nick’s of Calvert for All of Your Dining Needs Today

Once your kitchen is fully stocked, all you need are the raw ingredients to transform food into a delicious meal! At Nick’s of Calvert, we have the freshest fruits and vegetables and the highest-quality meats around, as well as wine and liquor for sale. And for those days that you don’t feel like cooking, we have dinner classics that are pre-prepped and just need to be heated up. To learn more about why we’re an outstanding neighborhood grocer, visit us today.