Post #559 Menus O’Plenty

January 28, 2018 at 4:57 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #559 Menus O’Plenty

Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now is focus on quick, fast, tasty, and nutritious meals.  When I was in college, I necessarily ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches due to budget and time constraints.  Once, I got home from work and was sitting on the couch and thinking about everything I still had to get done that evening, meal prep and eating being one of them.  Just as I was setting about getting my butt in gear, a plate of steaming lasagna appeared in front of me.  My roommate said, “Here.  You look like you could use this.”  It helped.  He could throw a pan of lasagna together fast than anyone I’d ever seen.  And he could make enough for two people only, or one person twice.  It was amazing.

Since I’ve started working full time, meals during the week tend to be on the fast side and I try to make them nutritious.  Here’s a typical day.  Partner/Spouse wakes up at 4:30am and gets ready for the day.  Neither the dog nor I rouse much although we’re both aware of his absence.  About an hour later, he shakes my shoulder, kisses me goodbye and leaves.  I get up cuz I’m awake and take the dog out, then feed him.  I get my breakfast and clean the kitchen if I left it messy from the night before.  About 6:15 or so I start working on my computer so I don’t get behind.  I get ready about 8, throw my lunch together, take the dog out once more, and meet my ride, and I’m at my desk about ten minutes before 9.  The day goes forth and I get off at 6:30, if I don’t get any last minute calls that take me past my end of shift, which happens fairly often.  I meet Partner/Spouse in the parking lot.  He may or may not have been home yet.  It’s 7 or later by the time we walk in the door.  Dinner has to be made, the dog has to be taken out then fed, we both have to change and get comfy, and because our day starts early, we usually want to be in bed by 9:30 or so.  So there’s basically two and a half hours or so from the time we walk in the door till trying to get some sleep.  Weekends are worse.  So.  Dinner needs to be fast, plentiful, easy, tasty, and help us sleep.

Initially, I thought about making several things on the weekend and freezing them, but our freezer space is limited.  I do have soups and sauces frozen.  But neither of us is big on leftovers.  I can make quick and tasty dishes but I’m always looking for variety in our diet.  So last week, this is what we came up with.

Monday – grilled pork chops and salad:  I took the chops out before I left for work so they were completely thawed out and waiting for us.  I started the pan heating before I took the dog out, so by the time I was ready to cook, it was blazing hot and cooking even thick chops was a matter of minutes in the sizzling skillet and then the oven.  Making a salad is even easier while the chops finish in the oven.  Partner/Spouse will cut all the meat off his chop and throw it on top of his salad, while I do it all on the plate while I’m eating.

Tuesday – Taco Salad:  I took the hamburger out of the freezer the moment I got up and put it into the fridge when I left the house.  By the time we got home, it was thawed and ready to cook.  I threw it into a skillet after taking the dog out and cooked it up quickly.  I drained it off completely, and added a half-full container of cilantro salsa we’d bought the previous week for tacos.  It was a chunky salsa and had loads of onions, chili peppers, and other great ingredients.  I mixed it all thoroughly and let the juices simmer off and the salsa thickened into a nice chunky sauce.  Then it was just a matter of putting our salads together and putting the hot beef mixture on top.  I had cut lettuce, cheese, fresh tomatoes, more fresh salsa, the beef mixture and cheese on top of that.  I forgot about tortilla chips, but didn’t miss them.

Wednesday – ham and eggs and biscuits:  A long while ago, we’d bought a spiral cut ham on the bone for an amazing price when it was on sale.  Then I cut it all off the bone and packaged it in portions we’d actually use.  So one of those came out of the freezer and into the fridge.  When we got home, I immediately started the oven and took the dog out.  While I’m walking the dog, Partner/Spouse always puts his dinner together and sets it on the floor so when we walk in the door and I unharness him, Buddy runs to his dinner.  I put the skillet on to heat and take four frozen biscuits out of the freezer.

Have I told you about these?

They’re one of the success stories of modern freezing technology.  Faster and better tasting than refrigerator tube biscuits or rolls, we keep them on hand all the time.  You can make as many or as few as you want or need.  We typically cook up four at a time.  While they were cooking, I was searing several thin pieces of spiral cut ham.   In between time, I was beating six extra large eggs for scrambled eggs.  That seems a lot, but some go to Buddy, and by this time of the evening, we’re really hungry.  Lunch seems like days ago.  By the time the biscuits are done, the ham is heated through and the eggs are cooked dry, the way we like them.  Time to chow down.

Thursday – Arroz con Pollo:  Arroz con Pollo is one of those things when done right is ambrosia, and when done wrong is still pretty darn good!  I took the chicken out of the freezer the night before and let it partially thaw then put it in the fridge before going to bed.  By the next evening, it was ready to be cut up.  We have a European style water heater for tea and coffee but we use it to boil up a few cups of water when we need it for something else.  I sprayed a casserole dish with a glass cover with vegetable spray and put a cup of rice in it.  I mixed in some garlic powder and dry chicken bouillon granules.  The water got to boiling while I cut up the chicken into bite sized pieces.  I put a cup and a half of boiling water into the casserole with the rice and stirred until all the flavors were mixed.  Then I added about a cup of basic jarred salsa and the chicken.  I stirred to combine everything, then covered it.  The oven was at 400 so it went in to cook for 45 minutes.  Make sure the chicken is completely cooked (which is why I cut into smaller pieces.)  You can stir to mix it up, or just scoop it up.  It was delicious.  The rice was cooked perfectly and the flavors were great.  I took a big bunch to work the next day for my ride-share friend and he said it was the one of the best things he tasted.

Friday – Take out Chinese:  I got chicken pad thai.  The place was busy so we didn’t get home till just after 8.  A glass of wine with the chinese, slightly later bed time, but all was good.

Saturday –  The chicken pad thai from the day before wasn’t sitting well with me.  We had the last of our frozen biscuits (bought more today) and the last of the ham (bought more today.)  We ran a ton of errands, bought some fun stuff, went to an antique store, took Buddy with us and generally had a good time.  We had planned to grab lunch during our travels but since my stomach still wasn’t feeling up to snuff, we had lunch at home, but late.  Late enough that we really didn’t feel much like eating any dinner, so dinner was foraging.  I had crackers, I think.

Sunday –  Today, we’re having the last of a prime rib roast we bought at Christmas.  We’re cutting it into two thick steaks and grilling it on our cast iron grill pan.  We’re also having Yorkshire pudding, and some fresh tomatoes and cucumber.  Gravy on the Yorkshire pudding.  Yorkshire pudding is basically flour, egg, and water stirred at intervals throughout the day and baked in an very hot oven to get a giant poof, then reduced to cook through.  It’s thick and gooey and very good with gravy.

So that’s our week of meals when time is critical.  Except weekends (Friday included in that weekend thing) when time isn’t critical, it’s usually less than 40 minutes from stepping in the door to dinner on the table.  This upcoming week I’m going to play around with some pasta meals and let you know how those turn out.  We’re not starving, and we eat balanced, nutritious meals.  Sometimes later than we should but it’s better than going to bed listening to our stomach growl.  If you have any favorite “go to” meals for a busy weekday, please share.  I’d love to hear about them!

And, as always,

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