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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not even going to post how much we spent last month, because I'm too ashamed. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> DH pointed out last night that we didn't use the stove ONCE in June. While this is a fantastic way to save energy, it's a terrible terrible way to save money.<br><br>
I need to do groceries this weekend, and stock up the pantry. Our main issue is that it's just too flipping hot to cook. Our other issue is that I find myself getting home closer to 6pm, and by that point we're just too hungry/exhausted to cook anything.<br><br>
So...to get to my question. Does anybody have a resource for inexpensive, easy, fast meals? No-cook meals are also a plus. We're a family of grazers during the summer months. I seriously have had no appitite at all. So the occasional meal of salad/sandwiches is fine. Just not every night!<br><br>
We can't think of ANYTHING easy and delicious to make. I've tried google to no avail. I get random recipes that sound utterly horrible.<br><br>
Help, please! Before we bankrupt ourselves on expensive take-out that's no good for us!
 

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Well, we have had the same problem from time to time where we don't get home until late and everyone is starving! So don't feel too bad, but it's good you are going to fix it!<br><br>
What if you went grocery shopping and did the whole weeks worth of cooking on Sat. or Sun? You could get fresh fruit and vegees and cut them all up so they are easy to grab...you could make some dip to have ready...I make a sour cream dip that uses a tub of sourcream, a couple of Tbsp of Miracle Whip, a packet of Italian dressing seasoning, a couple sprinkles of red pepper flakes, and a couple of sprinkles of garlic powder.<br><br>
Maybe you could wash up some salad and have it ready with a balsamic vinegrate ready...I just eyeball it, but it's balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper.<br><br>
Like you said, sandwiches are good...you could have an assortment of meats and cheeses...<br><br>
how about bbqs in the crockpot...hamburger and bbq sauce and cook for when you get home...I also do this by throwing a beef or pork roast in.<br><br>
What about homeade pizza? make your crust and either freeze or store in the fridge for a few days...top and bake quickly and kids love it!<br><br>
We eat pretty simply also in the summer...a lot of times we just graze on maybe some fruit, vegees, and cheese and then have a rootbeer float<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"><br><br>
Good Luck!
 

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I definitely know what you're talking about. We practically put ourselves in the poor house with take-out the first few years after we had DD.<br><br>
I bought some freezer menus from Saving Dinner <a href="http://www.savingdinner.com/about/dinner_freezer_recipes.html" target="_blank">http://www.savingdinner.com/about/di...r_recipes.html</a> last year. They were good, and I mean, freaky-we-couldn't-believe-how-delicious good. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"> It's kind of cool how she has it set up. You can buy a bunch of, say, chicken when it's on sale, make up 5 dinners, and put them in the freezer. I think every meal we made took 20 minutes max to cook. I have some on .pdf if you'd like to take a look.<br><br>
I have a girlfriend who's the crockpot diva. She makes stuff in the crockpot almost every workday, and it really works for her family.<br><br>
Good luck finding something that works.
 

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Well, what kind of take out do you all like? Might help people give you some recipes if they know what kind of food you do like. I find the crockpot is a great tool if you get home late and are tired to cook. You can throw chicken in there with veggies like poatoes and carrots and a bottle of dressing/marinade and put it in on low for 6-8 hours. You can also do burritos with just tortillas, canned beans and grated cheese. We buy burritos out a lot so we should be doing this more often. Really, you can throw almost anything in the crockpot and have it come out pretty good if not great. I love cooler weather because I throw lentils or split peas in the crockpot with chicken broth and a can of tomatoes and diced veggies (or frozen) and some spices and I have a great soup at the end of the day to have with crusty bread.<br><br>
I know food can be so boring sometimes, especially in the summertime it seems. I love the fresh produce so it's fun to graze as you say, but comfort food just doesn't seem as comforting when it's 90 degrees outside. Another thing you could put together a day or so in advance is a greek pasta salad or something like that. I just made one yesterday with twisted rotini pasta, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, crumbled feta, pepperoni, and black olives tossed with italian dressing. It gets better after a day and it's an easy, light summery dish.
 

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Besides the crockpot, you could get a grill and cook outside. That way, all the heat is outside and not in the house. You can bake potatoes, <a href="http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/Grilling-Pizza-Video/Detail.aspx" target="_blank">make pizza on the grill</a>, steam veggies in foil packets, grill kebobs, meats and even fruits.
 

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Here are some of our no- or low-cook meals. We work split shifts so only have 30 minutes to prep and eat 3 nights a week and these are our standbys.<br><br>
1. Bear Creek Soups (just add water and cook 15 min).<br>
2. Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup<br>
3. Layer Dip (refried beans, sour cream, cheese, olives, salsa, etc.) & chips<br>
4. Nachos<br>
5. Cold Pasta Salad (make noodles ahead of time and add yummies like tomatoes, olives, cheese chunks, ham, pepperoni, etc)<br>
6. Jumbo Green Salad (add hard boiled eggs, black beans, ham, turkey, chicken corn, kidney beans, pretty much whatever).<br>
7. Grilled Chicken (marinate in morning) and Rice/Pasta/Couscous.<br>
8. Baked Potato with fixings. (Cook in morning while you shower and get ready and keep in fridge. Then microwave to warm back up.<br>
9. Tacos (just have to fry meat or go meatless).<br>
10. Frozen raviolis. Use your own tomato sauce or do canned sauce.<br>
11. Pizza bread (tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni on broil in the oven for a few minutes).<br>
12. Sandwiches with extra good toppings.<br><br>
Also buy some frozen meals you can heat up. Cheaper than take out! We like Costco's lasagna and some of the Skillet meals in a bag that have all the parts.<br><br>
If you are able to cook ahead, make caseroles and triple the recipe. 1 to eat now and 2 to freeze. I'll get on a binge of doing that and really stock up my freezer.<br><br>
And, I second the crockpot. We use that a lot, especially in the winter because they are more "winter friendly" to me. Chilli, soup, stroganoff, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, these are some great ideas!<br><br>
Grilling on a BBQ is out, as we're in an apartment. For the same reason, any cooking/freezing dealios are out, as we have zero room for a chest freezer. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"><br><br>
I hadn't considered the crock pot. We got one as a wedding gift and have used it maybe twice. I'll have to dig it out and figure it out. :p<br><br>
We're not a picky family, we like pretty much everything. The take-out place that has been getting most of our business is a local greek place. We like pizza loaded with veggies. Salads, fruit, etc. I think the last "meal" we made was nachos, which we had been using as our "easy meal" on sports nights. Super healthy, I'm sure. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"> We love mexican food (and have even started putting salsa on our eggs after discovering the yumminess of it on a trip to California. Salsa is so fantastic!)<br><br>
I'm actually giving MYSELF meal ideas by finally figuring out what I'm craving, haha. I've just had no appitite at all lately, so it makes it hard to get inspired.<br><br>
Thanks for the ideas. Keep em coming! I can't be the only person with the "too hot to cook" problem right now, haha.
 

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You can make easy, quick pizzas by using pita or other flatbreads.<br><br>
Breakfast for dinner (French toast, eggs, pancakes) is easy AND cheap.<br><br>
I like taking a can of refried beans, heating them up, and using as a taco filling with whatever toppings you like. You can heat the beans in the micro, so you don't have to heat up the house.<br><br>
Frozen pizzas are not necessarily a bad thing to keep on hand for quick dinners. They bake relatively quickly, so there's not too much heating up the house.
 

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if you like greek, get a mountain of feta, olives, and spinach. mix them up with some raw egg, dill, and pepper. then (this is the complicated part, butkids love it) make pie dough. (1 cup water, 1/4 - 1/3 cup butter or marj, then add water until it's work-able. knead it until it's well mixed, then roll it out on the counter.) make greek pockets. or tarts, if you use a muffin tray. they're delish, and if you make lots they're a nutritious thing to keep a pile of in the fridge, but they disappear fast! you bake them at 350 until the outside is just the right colour. (sorry i can't give you more specific instructions than that, it depends so much on how big they are)<br><br>
throw a rinsed can of chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, peppers, and whatever else together in a bowl with some olive oil and oregano & rosemary. feta is good in that, too. then use it in pitas or tortillas for wraps. there's no cooking at all!<br><br>
personally, i eat egg salad like it's going out of style. but i use blue cheese dressing instead of mayo. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Eat">:
 

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You know, this probably isn't the most popular idea on MDC, but I find it helpful to keep a few convenience meals (frozen burgers/chicken patties, frozen pizzas, etc.) on hand for nights when cooking just can't happen. So much cheaper than take-out, and if you'd be eating take-out anyway, it doesn't really matter that it's not super healthy.
 

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Is there a Costco near you? I love their roast chicken.<br><br><br>
Take chips, throw on some cheese, and add beans or some chicken (we dice up the roast chicken.) Tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, etc. if you want.
 

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Costco roast chickens are pretty tasty... but any grocery store roast chicken is a good dinner short cut too.<br><br>
If I know it's going to be a miserably hot day the next day, I try to do some cooking late at night the night before so all I have to do is reheat in the microwave. Things that can be eaten cold, like pasta salad or somen work out great too.
 

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We've been eating a lot of variations on pasta salads lately. My favorite is pasta, chopped spinich (or other salad green), a can of tuna or salmon or some left over BBQ salmon and cut up pieces of grapes, oranges, peaches or mangos. It seems to work best with one kind of fruit at as time. I dress it with equil parts mayo and frozen concentrated orange juice with garlic and basil. I've been cooking big batches of pasta and keeping the left overs in the fridge so it hardly takes any time to wip it together.<br><br>
Also wraps are great. Beans, meat, chicken or fish with some veggies and salsa or dressing and maybe some cheese. Yum!
 

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The crockpot is a great way to keep the house cool and still cook. A friend gave me the easiest recipe.<br><br>
chicken breasts (number depends on size of crockpot, I have a big one so I use 6)<br>
can of enchilada sauce<br>
couple cans of pinto beans<br><br>
put the chicken breasts and beans in the crockpot, pour the enchilada sauce on top and cook on low. Using the meat temp thingy it takes about 4 hours.<br><br>
When it is done, take the chicken breasts out and use 2 forks to pull the chicken apart. Throw the pulled chicken back in the sauce.<br><br>
You can use this for enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, eggs, etc.<br><br>
For variety, you can also use barbecue sauce. Feeds 2 adults forever (at least 3 days, every meal). You can mash the beans for nachos.
 

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I keep tortillas around. There's always something you can throw into a tortilla for an instant meal. I've been using deli turkey lately, but anything will work.
 

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We make chicken and cheese quesadillas, the kids really like them and they are super easy.<br><br>
I use the crockpot. Definitely a great idea.<br><br>
I put some chicken breasts in there and the put tomato sauce over them. cook, add a bit of cheese at the end and its so tasty.<br><br>
I also found this not so great recipe but the kids love it!<br><br>
Take chicken breast, pt one can of cream of something soup(celery, chicken, broccoli) and one can of water, put a box of stovetop that is made with water on top. Cook. Its wonderful, I usually use the rice cooker and make some rice to put it over.
 

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In one of the Tightwad Gazette books she talks about making a bunch of pizza crusts, baking them part of the way, and then freezing.<br><br>
The Freezer Cooking Manual is good too.
 

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There's nothing wrong with grazing! We buy veg in the farmer market, and I find the secret is to wash the lettuce, fruit and veg immediately when I get it home. We are more inclined to use them when they are conveniently ready. Apart from veg, in the summer we mostly have hummus, baba, cheese, salsa, avocados, various breads...Like you, I've hardly lit the stove for the past few weeks, but I don't feel guilty<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"> Nothing wrong with carrots and radishes raw.<br><br>
About the only thing I've done with the stove lately is boil eggs for egg salad.
 

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Salads- like pasta and potato are good summer meals. Make them in the morning when it's cooler. Poach chicken breasts and make chicken salad for sandwiches or to add to a green salad. Quesadillas or burritos cook up fast so they won't heat the house too much.<br><br>
We are also terrible with eating out too much. It's such a waste of money and generally bad for you food. I'm always trying to figure out things to eat at home that we will actually eat!
 

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Lots of great ideas here. A toaster oven comes in handy, too. Less space to heat=less heat in the house.<br><br>
You can make a bunch of burritos to keep in the freezer. Beans, rice, cheese, salsa. Roll 'em up, wrap 'em in foil, and you're set.<br><br>
And don't forget "snack night." A big tray of fruit, veggies, cheeses, nuts, olives, whole grain crackers, etc.<br><br>
It's also nice to make things fun. Mix a few juices with sparkling water and serve it in fancy glasses with a sprig of mint to make it feel like summer. Remember to put on fun music, too.
 
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