November 16, 2010

Easy Go-To Meals For Crazy Days

Recently we talked about meal planning.  I think that meal planning helps me to keep everyday life uncomplicated.  But there are days  I find myself standing exhausted in the kitchen with three crying babies, looking back on a day full of potty accident, tantrums, telemarketers and crayon art on the walls. In these moments the idea of making a beautiful quiche with the handmade crust and a side salad seems about as appealing as stabbing myself in the eye with the crayon I've confiscated from the children.

Do you have days like this?

When it fits in our budget, these are the days we order pizza.  Or Chinese food. Or get one of those precooked chickens from the grocery stores food-to-go section.

But sometimes take out isn't an option.  So if you sometimes have days like this, I want to encourage you to make a list of a few meals you almost always have the necessary ingredients for that are super-duper easy.

Here are mine:

  • Grilled Cheese served with whatever cut up raw fruit or veggies I happen to have.
  • BLT's (Especially in the late summer when there are tomatoes in the garden)
  • Breakfast for dinner.  Bacon, eggs, hash browns and toast.  Or pancakes.
  • Grilled chicken Caesar salad
  • This Chicken Divan recipe.

So, tell me, what are your easy go-to meals for those crazy days?


  1. I'm with you--grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup are our emergency dinners. Sometimes we have chicken strips and I usually have ingredients for tacos/quesadillas on hand if needed. PBJs are a good stand-by also.

  2. a whole chicken, cut into pieces, into a lidded casserole with oil, dark and light soy sauce, a dash of sesame oil, seasoning and loads of garlic. extra water to prevent drying out. In the oven, 200 C for 45-60 mins and then reduce to 180 for the last few minutes. it's kind of a baked, asian-style braised chicken which we have with rice. i love it because once it is in the oven, i only need to check it now and then and am free to do other things til it cooks :)

  3. Super quick meal:
    Lettuce (Romaine)
    Prepared Chicken Salad "tub"
    Bread and Butter pickles

    Chop lettuce, place on plates.
    Plop a good dolop of chicken salad on top of the lettuce.
    Add 10 or so bread and butter pickle slices on top of the chicken salad.

    I use the chicken salad from my local warehouse club from the refrigerated section because it has a long expiration date, about 30 days. The pickles make a nice sweet crisp pick-me-up for the savory chicken salad.

    Moderately quick meal:
    "Freezer Shephard's Pie"

    * From the freezer: Pre-cooked family size garlic mashed potatoes from the meat department or left-overs from a previous meal.
    * From the freezer: Ground beef/turkey - unthaw in microwave
    * From the freezer: Creamed corn (if you MUST use the canned stuff, go ahead)
    * From the refrigerator: Shredded cheese (always have some on hand)
    * From the pantry/spice rack: Salt, pepper, Seasoned Pepper, minced garlic, onion (optional)

    (1) Unthaw turkey/beef in microwave. 10 minutes (use the auto-defrost cycle if you have one)
    (2) Unthaw mashed potatoes in microwave, usually 8 - 10 minutes. Set it and forget it. Brown turkey/beef on stove, add minced garlic
    (3) Once mashed potatoes are re-heated, cook corn, again in the microwave
    (4) Dump (techincal term) mashed potatoes into frying pan with ground meat. Mix.
    (5) Turn off stove, serve on plates, cover in shredded cheese. Serve creamed corn on the side. Sprinkle creamed corn with Seasoned Pepper.

    My kids mix it all together on their plates and usually fight over who gets to lick the frying pan. If you're feeling fancy, add a chopped onion while the ground meat is cooking.

  4. Some of my dead-easy non-takeout meals:

    Tacos, nachos, or quesadillas using previously frozen taco filling
    Pierogi skillet - using store-bought pierogis (Pierogis, chopped onions, frozen peas, and a bit of ham/sausage/bacon/etc. for flavor)
    Baked potato bar w/ whatever toppings are convenient/available
    In the summer, what we call 'cold supper': a spread of whatever breads/crackers, tinned seafood, fresh fruits and veg, olives, hummus/other spreads, cheeses, etc. are on hand.

  5. My children are IN LOVE with what I call 'variety platter'- which is essentially the small amounts of leftovers that do not add up to an entire meal, accompanied with fruit, veggies, yogurt, cheese sticks or whatever I can find in the fridge. I arrange it in a fun way on their plate and they eat every bite :)


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