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Quick meal planning

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm going back to work next week: and when I get home, I will need to prepare meals to be ready to eat within 1/2 hour. Does anyone have ideas or websites?

We have a microwave, oven and a GF grill. Our family eats mostly "americanized" foods, as I don't eat beans and no one likes spicy foods. I'm sick of pre-package meals, but I don't have a lot of cooking experience or recipes to fall back on. We have no dietary restrictions, only pickiness.


Oh, if I missed another thread like this, could you post the link?
post #2 of 11
I asked something similar several months ago and was told me make friends with my crock pot. I made a lot of breakfast for dinner, easy things like grilled chicken and steamed veggies, quesadillas/tacos. If you have time on the weekend to cook hamburger meat (if you use it) and grill a bunch of chicken breasts you can use the HB meat to add to pasta sauce, or to make tacos. The chicken breasts are good as is, or on salads, sandwiches, quesadillas, etc. because the meat is usually what takes the longest, having some precooked and portioned out is really helpful. If you're doing pasta sauce, you can even dump the precooked & drained hamburger meat into the sauce and it will defrost as the sauce heats up.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
I really want a crockpot, but don't have one and am cash poor right now

Thanks though! Hopefully I will get one soon!
post #4 of 11
you might ask your friends/relatives if they have an extra one. I know my mom has two, and another friend had two before giving one away.
post #5 of 11
I don't make anything that takes over half an hour to make--just too much work. What I do is write a menu for the week on Sunday, make the shopping list and shop on Monday (I don't work outside the house). Really, just having the menu written out cuts down on meal prep a lot because before meal planning I would stand staring into the fridge of unappetizing food for longer than I care to admit. When I first started menu planning, the first thing I did was write down a list of "food we actually eat". These are the staples. Every once in a while I throw something new into the menu, but not often. Also, I know which days are the hardest and I don't make anything exciting on those days (these are usuually at the end of the week). At the beginning of the week I may be a bit more adventurous. Also, think outside the box. For instance, we have the same breakfast everyday--cold cereal. That leaves other traditionally breakfast foods open for lunch or dinner. In my menus, I have headings for Lunch, Snacks, Dinner, and Prep for the next day (ie. soaking beans, packing a school lunch etc).

We have picky eaters in our family too. This is where making the list "foods we actually eat" comes in handy. Also, we have differing dietary needs. I am vegetarian, but the rest of the family is not. The children are allergic to dairy, dh and I are not. Planning a menu actually helps with this because I can space out the meals where someone is short-changed. Also, there is less for the kids to argue with when it is all written down and I have more of the "good" meals than the "yucky" meals. The kids also don't eat up all the yummy food when they know it is planned for a meal.
post #6 of 11
Good advice above, I need to go back and reread! Our very favorite quick meal is quesadillas. We're not that big on beans here either, but the kids will eat them like this. I empty a can of beans (pink or black, we like Goya) into a bowl and mash it up with a little olive oil and a salt, using a fork. Using organic whole wheat tortillas (boosts the fiber factor), I spread the bean mixture on half, and then top with thin slices of cheddar cheese cut right from the block (shredding's not necessary). You can also sprinkle corn/tomatoes/onions/chicken/ground beef/whatever in there (we use frozen organic). Fold the empty half over and put it in a pan over medium/low heat. The cheese should melt and everything else should be well-warmed, and the outside should be just ever so slightly browned. Basically you're making a grilled cheese inside a tortilla. Serve with sour cream or salsa or whatever you like.

I know some people make these in a pan with olive oil, but if you don't fill it up so much that the filling will ooze out, you can just put it right on the pan and it should be fine. When they're done, I let them cool, cut them in half, and then eat them little pizza slices.

You can also make baked potatoes with all kinds of toppings, and you can make and freeze or refrigerate pizza dough. Then when you get home you can quick press it out, top it and bake it. You might also consider making and freezing some stuff on the weekends for easy access during the week, or cooking after the kids go to bed and throwing it into the fridge to reheat the next day.


Oh, ETA that along the lines of what BusyBee said, breakfasts for dinner are also quick and easy. One of our favorite dinners is cheese omelets and sausage (Whole Foods, if you shop there, has some DELICIOUS fresh sausages in the meat case, and those are a special treat for us). Pancakes, and even baked oatmeal, are popular around here for dinner.
post #7 of 11
I was thinking of this thread this morning but didn't have time to look it up then. Someone happened to bump it today! Lots of quick and cheap meal ideas in here:


And you should try asking on your local Freecycle for a crockpot, they're always posted on mine!
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone! I'm planning on borrowing Mom's crockpot to see if I like it and should look for my own. The only problem is that I forgot to pick it up when I stopped by today
post #9 of 11
Tacos, burritos, pastas, "helper" meals (homemade ones are really easy!)
post #10 of 11
subbing to this thread, I'm always in need of dinner help ideas.
post #11 of 11
Cooks illustated has two great books...one is the Best Quick REcipes and the other is the the Best 30 minute recipes or something along that line.

I know a LOT of people who love Rachel Ray's books, you might check one out of the library and see if you get good ideas out of it. Too, for the crockpot, check out "Not your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook" It ROCKS. Really probably the best crock-pot cook book I've seen yet.

We love our Forman grill (you can probably get one of those off of freecycle or out of a loved one's pantry, too!), because of the ease of use and how really quickly it cooks the meat. We, too, do some precooking. IF we grill on the weekends or bake on a weeknight, I'll make extra chicken breasts, so that dh has them for the week's lunches and so that we can shred one or two for tacos or cube it for soup, or whathave you. Making the ground turkey ahead of time is a great help, too. I also am known for doubling whatever I make and freezing half of it for a "rainy day" when we just won't have time to do ANYTHING but nuke something quick!
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