Hubs and I are waiting for some foster children to be placed, could happen any day kind of thing. Anyhow I'm trying to clear my life of as much extra things as possible for a season to help them heal and all of us transition and would LOVE some of your fastest, last minutest, easiest meal ideas! I'm sure we could all use a little inspirations for busy evenings to bring our families to the table too. We are also on a tight budget, so ideas that don't cost a fortune (and are homemade) would be incredibly helpful.
Thank you thank you!
Ashley, Jesus loving mama to Jaden (8) Trace (6) and Liam (3) and fost/adopt twins Talia and Oliva (1). Happily married for a decade!
I find meals that you assemble at the table are pretty quick and easy. This week, I made soft tacos and with the help of DH and DS (who shredded the cheese, cut the red peppers and lettuce and green onions), it was on the table in about 15 minutes. That's how long it took to cook up the ground beef with some onion, garlic and the seasonings. Individual pizzas are similar - you can use pitas or flat breads if you don't want to make pizza dough.
You mentioned "last minute" meals. I find that if you can plan, there are dishes that need very little prep, but take some time to cook. For example, meat loaf takes 5 or 10 minutes to mix up and throw in a loaf pan, but then an hour to bake. Baked beans likewise take a few minutes of prep and then bake for a long time but you can ignore them until you want to serve them up. A roast can take even less time to put in the oven, but has to be done a while before you intend to eat. It's one of the simplest meals to make though. For us, the beauty of a roast is the leftover meat that can go into another meal or made into sandwiches.
The key to last minute meals is a well stocked pantry and freezer. Once you get a good rotation of basic meals and stock your shelves appropriately meals can come together quickly. However like a PP noted cook times can be long. If you want meals that are quick to assemble *and* quick to the table then you will want to do some preplanning.
My "go to" quick to assemble/quick to cook meals are:
Spaghetti, homemade sauce, meatballs, salad and garlic bread:
- whole wheat pasta goes on sale a lot so I stock up and always have an assortment of shapes and sizes on hand
- canned tomatoes/paste go on sale a lot too so again I stock up and makes big batches of sauce to freeze
- meatballs come together easily and mini ones cook up quickly (I make triple batches and freeze)
Soft Tacos/Burritos w/ salsa and guacamole:
- the meat take minutes to cook
- frozen tortillas can be heated up quickly in a cast iron pan
- I love TJ's roasted tomato, no salt added salsa but you can make a homemade one in minutes w/ canned chopped tomatoes
- avocados can be expensive so I compare prices with premade as they can often be cheaper or omit (Traders Joes is great)
- I always have cheddar cheese on hand for shredding
Grilled Chicken wraps:
- chicken breasts cook up quickly, especially if pounded to even thickness, if you have an extra half hour marinate in fresh lemon juice, olive oil, S/P)
- top w/ shredded lettuce, cheese and wrap in warm tortilla. Add Caesar dressing if desired
- these take no time on a grill or in a pan.
- I grind my own meat (very quick) or pay a little more and buy pre-ground
- serve on whole wheat rolls, with a veggie on the side
- if you have a little more time, slice up sweet potatos, toss with olive oil and roast for fries
Breakfast for dinner:
- scrambled eggs, toast
- pancakes and sausage
- french toast
Pardon me while I
2 cans of black beans, rinsed (or four cups cooked from dried)
1 cup salsa
1 cup broth (water is okay too)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
Mix everything together. Heat (microwave is fastest) and purée in blender. Serve with sour cream, cheese, and chips or tortilla strips.
My evenings have become a lot easier since I discovered http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
If you go the cookbook route, I like the second one more. She is gluten free so this made my first month a breeze. The only issue I have with it is I find it is sometimes lacking in green vegetables. Throw some brocolli in a pan with garlic and olive oil or serve with a green salad. This is not your typical cream of x soup and chicken breasts recipes. Good stuff.
Pardon two posts, having issues with editing.
I have been known to a) prepare meal in crockpot the night before and stick in fridge or b) prepare several meals in advance and store in ziplocs or containers. She also suggests doubling some of the recipes and freezing them prior to cooking.
Baked potatoes, take a while to cook but very little actual work. Top with tuna, bacon bits, baked beans, cheese or whatever. Works quite well with picky eaters who can usually find something to top them with.
Omelette, with whatever fillings people fancy. Usually served with toast here.
Egg fried rice, with some scrammbled egg and whatever leftovers we have in the fridge.
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