No, I haven’t gone all healthy on you…”when fast-food won’t do” doesn’t mean I’ve given up eating at all my favorite drive-thrus. Rather my eating out budget has been drastically reduced as we have shifted priorities in our family budget. Now I want to save that money for just the right night. But what is a girl to do when she gets home from work and is exhausted and hasn’t a clue what to do for dinner?
Here are some quick and easy fall-backs. Plan your grocery list each month to include these items and you won’t find yourself in need of running through the drive-thru as often as before.
- Tortellini. Open a bag and boil it–it takes about 10 minutes. Slice up an apple, throw some little carrots and maybe cut up some other veggies and D-O-N-E. We server our tortellini with cheese and some Italian seasonings.
- Quesadillas (The Mexican version of Grilled Cheese). Always have flour tortillas on hand and a big bag of mexican blend cheese. I often have some frozen grilled chicken strips that we can heat and add to quesadillas too. My girls like just cheese and maybe a bit of chicken. I also like to put onions on mine. Simply heat a nonstick skillet and place one tortilla down in the skillet. Sprinkle the tortilla with cheese and other desired items then top with another tortilla. Flip the tortilla when it is browned and before it chars! Open a can of refried beans or some Ranch Style Beans (K-Mart sells then in PA) serve with some little carrots.
- Burritos. This is a favorite at our house. Open up cans of refried beans (it takes two cans for my family) and heat on the stove. I sprinkle some fajita seasoning into the beans and stir it in while they heat up. Then pull out those flour tortillas again. Zap the tortillas for a few seconds in the microwave to warm them up. I put mine between two damp paper towels and warm for a few seconds. Then load them up with beans, cheese, and onions…even lettuce if you want. I like to serve with Taco Bell Hot Sauce and Sour Cream and then of course some chopped apples or other easy fruit to cut and serve. (Sometimes I just set the clementine bowl on the table and that serves as our fruit selection for the evening)
- Fish Sticks/Portions. Keep in the freezer you favorite battered fish. Prepare this along with some frozen broccoli and some fresh fruit (or my throw-down fruit of canned mandarin oranges when the fruit basket is empty)
Tiny Bit of Thinking
- Pancakes. I keep a box of Aunt Jemima’s Original in my pantry at all times (along with syrup of course too!). I mix in an individual serving pack of applesauce and sprinkle in some cinnamon into the batter before firing up the griddle for dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes. Sometimes we have sausage and/or eggs too but often it is pancakes and fruit. (Then a bag of popcorn later when we are a teeny bit hungry before bedtime.)
- Tacos. Brown some ground meat and empty the taco seasoning and water (per package instructions) into the browned meat. Serve on warmed hard shells, tortillas, or tortilla chips. You can load the tacos with as much or as little as you can stand to prepare (shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sour cream, salsa) Refried beans, black beans, or corn on the side are a nice addition too.
- Spaghetti. I have a child that does not care for spaghetti (I guess she takes after her Grandaddy). However, it is a perfect “tiny bit of thinking” meal. One pot of water to boil the noodles and one skillet to brown the ground meat (maybe some onions and peppers too) and then add a jar of your favorite sauce. Pull green beans out of the freezer and pop open a can of crescent rolls or french bread and you are on your way to dinner on the table in no time.
- Salad bags are good to have for throw down meals…that is if your family eats salad. Most of mine doesn’t.
- Fresh Veggies…call it Crudite and it sounds more fancy …like you spent some time on it!
- Slice up Fruit- apples and pears are quick favorites for our mindless and tiny bit of thinking meals
- Frozen vegetables are quick and easy to prepare. I like to have broccoli and green beans all the time in my freezer.
So the next time you are on your way home from a long day of work and feel your car pulling towards Chick-fil-a or Burger King, resist! You can still have an easy meal at home with your family for a lot less cost and a lot less salt!