Better "Fast" Food
Eating on the Run
Meals on the Go!
5 Fast Food Facts
Better "Fast" Food?
As the summer is approaching quickly, I need a little help from others about fast, easy to make, healthy, family meals. I have 4 children ages 9, 6, 4, & 2. This is the first year where the two oldest, my husband and I are all playing spring, summer, and fall ball. I will have only 1 night a week where we aren't scheduled for any games and that night is Saturday. My husband and I both work full time during the week. I would like to get away from so many sandwiches and hotdogs. Can you please give me some suggestions? I would really appreciate it!
Keeping Three Weeks Ahead
I take a lunch hour at work about every three weeks and plan three weeks' worth of suppers, bearing in mind slow-cooker suppers, planned leftovers from the weekends, and "fast food" such as omelets. Then I know what to shop for the next week. My goal is to get 6 weeks of suppers, and then use the same rotation every 6 weeks. Right now I'm at 3 weeks. I use the time during a work lunch hour because I know I'll never get the time at home.
Slow-Cookers Are Very Helpful
I'd suggest using your slow-cooker. You can make many things in it, either putting the food in at night before you go to bed, or in the morning before you go to work. Although I'm retired, I prefer putting the food in the slow-cooker in the evening and smelling it when I wake up! That way, if I'm making a roast, I can take it out in the morning, let it cool, put it in the refrigerator and by evening, the fat has come to the top and can be skimmed off. I can then slice if for a hot or cold dinner, for hot or cold sandwiches, or as an entree. I've been doing this for over 30 years.
Here's a slow-cooker site with over 1,200 recipes: southernfood.about.com
Once A Month Cooking
We could all use some ideas for fast suppers for summer! I don't do the Once-A-Month-Cooking full scale but doing some of the ideas really saves time and money. When I buy ground beef, I buy bulk and brown it all at once. Then I put it in quart freezer containers. This amount feeds my family of 5 just right. Then when I'm in a hurry (or don't feel like cooking) I just take out 1 container, and thaw a bit in the microwave. From there I can add sauce for Sloppy Joes, Spaghetti, Mexican night, mock Beef Stroganoff, pizza topping and more. For more ideas, try Real Food For Real People at www.realfood4realpeople.com under OAMC (once a month cooking)
Easy Meal Ideas
Here are some 1 pan dishes that are quick and easy:
One Pan Paprika Chicken
- Chicken (I use chicken breasts)(depending on what type of parts you cook your cooking time will vary)
- 2 can small peas (do not drain)
- 2 can sliced potatoes (drain)
Take a lasagna size-baking pan. Add 2 cans of peas including liquid. Then add the 2 cans of drained sliced potatoes. Place chicken parts on top skin side down add seasoning to taste. I use paprika, salt & pepper, garlic powder. After approximately1/2 hr. flip over chicken and season 2nd side. Your cooking time will vary according to what type of chicken parts and quantity you cook.
One Pan Pork Chops
- Pork Chops or Pork Blade Steaks
- 2 can French cut string beans (drain)
- 2 can sliced potatoes (save liquid)
- 1 lg. can cream of mushroom soup
Take a lasagna size-baking pan. Add lg. can cream of mushroom soup. Add cans of potatoes including liquid. Stir. Now add 2 cans drained French cut green beans. Stir. Place pork chops on top and season as needed. I use garlic powder, or adobe. Your cooking time will vary according to quantity of pork you cook. Cook for approximately 1/2 hour then flip pork over stirring in pork juice into the bottom mixture. Season second side of pork and finish cooking till pork is done.
Another suggestion is to make your meals in a slow-cooker. Most mornings I will take out my slow-cooker and add all my ingredients together quick before leaving for work. I set it on the adjustable HI-Lo setting and food is done when we come through the door at 5:30. Now that's nice.
Quick, Easy Meal Ideas
As a certified piano teacher, I work the after school and evening hours most days. I always look for fast meals. When the 4 lb. frozen boneless, skinless, chicken breasts go on sale, I buy as much as I can afford and freeze them. When I need a quick meal, I take as many breasts as I need out of the pack. I place the frozen chicken breasts in a greased baking dish and pour bottled Italian dressing on top. I put clean unpeeled, pierced potatoes in the oven with the chicken. (These flash frozen chicken breasts can be put directly in the oven without thawing, but you need to bake them about 15 minutes longer).
If cooking time is a problem for you, put this recipe in the slow-cooker in the morning on low. I also buy a turkey breast on sale. Thaw it out in the refrigerator for a day or so. Put clean turkey breast in the slow-cooker in the morning on low. Add a little water or broth, some spices and unpeeled clean potatoes (or other veggies). Cleaning a turkey breast is much easier than a regular turkey and fits nicely into a slow-cooker. We also put beef roasts in the slow-cooker from time to time. This takes very little time and is ready when you get home.
Salads make a wonderful main dish in the summer. Simply add hard cooked eggs, deli meat, grated cheese and what ever raw veggies you want. Add your favorite dressings. If you are really in a hurry, buy bagged salad. Macaroni salad is great too. Make the macaroni in the morning and refrigerate. In the evening, add mayonnaise, grated cheese, and hard cooked eggs. Serve fruit and bread with these dishes. Canned fruit and vegetables are great and easy. You can heat canned vegetables in the microwave for about 2 minutes. I love canned baked beans with salads. Just heat these up for about 5 minutes in the microwave or until warm.
A little creativity goes a long way. Have you thought of having breakfast for dinner? Pancakes or scrambled eggs with fruit?
A Great Web Resource
www.online-cookbook.com This is a wonderful site because you can search for recipes not only by category or name but also by key ingredients. So if you have a tub of cream cheese in the fridge that needs to be used...just type it in the ingredient search and tons of yummy recipes that call for cream cheese will appear. It also has a calculating feature that will let you type in how much or many servings you want and it will calculate all the adjustments for you from the recipe given. You can also request recipes. Of course, not all these recipes are fast but there are so many, I would think it would be a useful resource to anyone who cooks at all.
See "What's Your Fastest Meal to Make?" in The Dollar Stretcher Community
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.
We're still paying off last Christmas and worry how we'll afford the holidays this year without charging it again! Tell us: Yes, we could use help getting out of the debt trap we're in! or No, debt is not a problem for us but I'm always looking for ways to trim my family's expenses further!
More Money-Saving Tips for Families
- Snap up these 9 deals in August
- 5 big bills you can cut fast
- 5 frugal ways to expand your living space
- 4 steps to a simpler (and more frugal) life
- How your family can make a difference on $5 or less
- The perks of part-time work
- Modeling impulse control for your children
- Business ideas for kids
- This week's Readers' Tips