I need some meal ideas....

14 years ago

oh's not always like this - sometimes I handle things quite well, but I have to admit, lately I have been in a slump. :-(

I am so trying to feed my family well - there has been so much sickness - strep, colds, sinus problems, allergies, and I know I don't like to make convenience foods with msg and whatnot, very often. My guys would love it if they had that carp every night so I get no support there.

I have been very busy with the PTO and an intense need to get my house clean from the very core - so days get very busy -plus tons of yard cleanup before the snow hits. (I really don't know how y'all do it...) And Will and I - after I pick him up at 2:30 usually have somewhere to go. To visit my mom - or today we are going to the YMCA together. We'll probably return by 4.

Anyway, my dilemma:

Lately, I've been spending soooo much time after I get him from school and we get home, getting dinner ready - even if I start earlier. I don't know why it seems to take me so long but I hate it.

I plan, what I think are quick meals, and they seem to take me forever. And then after? I am too bushed and want to spend time with them, that the cleanup waits until the next day. UGH.

I'm looking for ideas for some easy, nutritious, not make a huge mess types of dinners to get me through this rough patch!!!

You guys got anything?


Comments (31)

  • teresa_nc7
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Sounds like you are stressed and maybe run-down? I say, make it easier on yourself:

    per week - Soup Night, Stir-fry Night, Pasta Night, Skillet Meal Night, Crockpot Night, Mexican Night, Pizza Night ( CAN do take-out).

    Keep the meal simple; the Food Police will not be barging in your kitchen to see if you have X number of vegetables or if you have a lean protein, starch, vegetable, salad/fruit, and whole grain bread. A stir-fry dish with a little meat, lots of vegetables, and rice or noodles is a good dinner - you do not have to fix anything else.

    Some recipes to get you started:

    Chicken Fajitas cook in wok or large skillet
    serves 4-6

    1 1/2lbs. boneless chicken thighs, cut in strips
    1 TB oil
    1 TB each Worcest. sauce, soy sauce, vinegar
    1 onion, sliced
    1 t. chili powder
    1 green bell pepper, strips
    1 clove garlic, minced
    half a lemon
    dash hot sauce

    Combine marinade in bowl. Stir in chicken and marinade 30 min. or more. Heat oil, stir fry chicken 5 min. Add onion and green pepper, stir fry until crunchy tender.
    Squeeze lemon juice over before serving. Serve with flour tortillas, salsa and sour cream.

    Chicken Vegetable Soup makes 12 cups, 4g fat per 2 cups
    Low Fat Recipe serves 6

    1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
    1 TB olive oil
    1 1/2lbs potatoes (3-4), peel, chop into 1-inch cubes
    2 carrots, thin slice
    2 ribs celery, sliced
    6 large mushrooms, sliced
    3 green onions, sliced
    1 t thyme
    1/2t salt, 1/4t pepper
    6 c chicken broth
    1 can (14oz) stewed tomatoes
    2 TB chopped parsley

    Coat large stockpot with Pam. Brown chicken 8-10 minutes. Remove. Add oil. Cook potatoes, carrots, celery, mushrooms, onion, thyme, s&p in oil 10-15 minutes. Add TB of broth to keep from sticking. Add rest. Bring to boil. Lower heat to simmer. Add chicken. Simmer 30 minutes.

    Spicy Beef Stew  Crock pot

    1 ½ to 2 lbs. stew beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
    4 med. potatoes, cubed
    4 med. carrots, sliced
    1 med. onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 cans tomato soup
    2 soup cans water
    1 c. red wine
    2 TB flour
    1 t. salt
    1 t. paprika
    1/4t. pepper
    1/2t. each oregano, basil, thyme, sage, marjoram
    1 TB Worcestershire sauce
    2 bay leaves

    Coat beef cubes with flour, s&p, paprika. Put vegetables in crock pot, top with the beef cubes. Mix all the rest but the bay leaves, pour over meat and veg in pot. Stir in bay leaves. Cook 8-10 hours until all is tender.

    Beef and Broccoli Lo Mein
    8 ounces thin spaghetti, broken in half
    1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    3 cups chopped broccoli
    1 1/2 cups sliced onion
    1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    12 ounces sirloin tips, cut crosswise into thin strips
    3 tablespoons beef broth
    3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
    2 tablespoons brown sugar
    1 tablespoon oyster sauce

    Step 1
    Stir the spaghetti into a pot of lightly salted boiling water and cook it according to the package directions. Drain the noodles well, then return them to the pot and toss them with the sesame oil.

    Step 2
    Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and onion and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and continue stirring while the mixture cooks for another 30 seconds. Add the sirloin and cook it, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until it is no longer pink.

    Step 3
    In a small bowl, mix the broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, and oyster sauce. Add the soy sauce mixture and the pasta to the skillet and continue cooking, stirring often, for 1 to 2 minutes or until everything is heated through. Serve the lo mein hot. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

  • chase_gw
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Stacy maybe you could shift your dinner prep time to the morning or early afternoon.

    Simple but delicious things like meatloaf, salmon cakes, tuna noodle casserole, shepherds pie, Salisbury steak could be put together in no time at all during the day. You could also prep the veggies ...keep it simple, streamed/boiled brocolli, carrots, potatoes, hell even open a can of creamed corn! Honestly it would take you no more than 30 minutes to throw together and then all you have to do is "turn the oven on" when it's time. Even homemade pizza works. I stick all the stuff in my bread machine and walk away for two hours. If you don't have a bread machine them buy the store bought dough. Toss a simple salad and thats it.

    I also love dishes like a real simple pasta toss with a salad. Gina's Lemon Scampi takes 5 minutes and is to die for. I also have a drop dead recipe for pork tenderloin with capers that takes no time at all : )

    Oh and be sure the boys each have a job clean up or table setting/clearing.

    Also think about spending one whole day every two weeks doing nothing but cooking. It's way easier if you say I'm doing nothing but , cooking or gardening or shopping or house cleaning ....than trying to do a bit of each, every day. Spaghetti sauce, meatballs, cabbage rolls, chicken pot pie, meatloaf, lasagna, whatever.... and throw it all in the freezer so you have several choices for poof.....and then of course there is always order in!!!!!

    Be easy on yourself Stacey, insist on some time that's for just you. Scott works hard and travels a lot and that means a lot falls to you but like my Mom use to say " be careful, if you are all things to all people, then what have you left for yourself and you need to be well yourself in order to be all things to all people"

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    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

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  • Carol Schmertzler Siegel
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Stacy, I cook a lot for the freezer, briskets, soups, chili, lasagna when I needed a quick meal because of PTA. Woodie's chicken piccata is good, so is Marilyn's Chicken Marsala, and you can prepare the cutlets before hand and then just add the both etc at dinner time. I've fried up the cutlets on Sunday and froze them, then just finished it up for a wuick meal during the week. Serve with pasta or rice.

    I got this recipe an old Glamour magazine cookbook called "Glamour on the Run" They are very quick dinners!

    Nine 30-Minute Chicken Dinners
    2 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless and pound to 1/4-inch thick
    1 tablespoon oil
    1 tablespoon butter
    2 tablespoons flour

    Flavor Makers and Garnish

    Before cooking, pound each cutlet between sheets of waxed paper until l/4-inch thick. Each recipe serves two.

    Dredge one whole chicken breast, skinned, boned, split in half and pounded, in 2 tablespoons flour. In medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter or margarine until hot and foamy. Add chicken and saute until golden brown on both sides. Add the flavor makers. Cover and simmer until fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken to plate and keep warm. Over medium-high heat, boil sauce in skillet rapidly until slightly thickened. Add finishing touches and heat through. Spoon sauce over chicken and add garnishes.

    To make Chicken Marsala
    Flavor Makers - 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms, 3/4 cup Marsala wine
    Finishing Touch - 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
    Garnish - additional parsley

    To make California Chicken
    Flavor Makers - 1 cup sliced mushrooms, 3/4 cup dry white wine
    Finishing Touch - 1/2 avocado, sliced
    Garnish - chopped parsley

    To make Chicken Milanese - * Instead of flour, dredge in seasoned breadcrumbs
    Flavor Makers - 1 garlic clove, minced; 1/2 cup chicken broth; 1/4 cup white wine
    Finishing Touch - 2 tablespoons chopped Parsley
    Garnsih - additional Parsley

    To make Chicken Piccata
    Flavor Makers - 1 garlic clove, minced; 1/2 cup white wine; 2 tablespoons lemon juice; capers (optional)
    Finishing Touch - 2 tablespoons chopped Parsley
    Garnish - Lemon slices

    To make Yucatan Chicken
    Flavor Makers - 1/2 cup lemon juice; 3 tablespoons raisins; 2 tablespoons canned chopped hot chilies
    Finishing Touch - 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
    Garnish - toasted pine nuts

    To make Sante Fe Chicken
    Flavor Makers - 1/2 cup red wine; 1/4 cup tomato puree; 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano; 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    Garnish - Lime wedges and sour cream

    To make Provencal Chicken
    Flavor Makers - 1/3 cup chopped onion; 1 teaspoon dried basil, 3/4 cup white wine
    Finishing Touch - 1/2 cup chopped, canned tomatoes; 1/4 cup black olives, chopped
    Garnish - Chopped parsley or fresh basil

    To make Sesame Chicken - Mix 1 egg with 2 tablespoons milk. After dredging in flour, dip chicken into egg mixture, then coat with 3 tablespoons sesame seeds.
    Flavor Makers - 3/4 cup chicken broth; 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce; 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger; 1 garlic clove, minced; 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil; 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    Garnish - chopped parsley or cilantro

    To make Chicken with Peppers
    Flavor Makers - 1/4 cup diced, cooked ham; 1/4 cup chopped onion; 1/2 cup white wine; 1/4 red pepper, cut into slivers; 1/4 green pepper, cut into slivers; 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
    Garnish - chopped parsley

    Woodie's Chicken Piccata
    4 Chicken breast halves, boned and skinned

    Salt and Pepper
    Flour (enough for coating)
    3 tablespoons butter
    Juice of 1 lemon
    1-1/2 cups chicken broth
    1/2 cup white wine
    Put a piece of waxed paper on the counter and place chicken on top. Use a meat pounder, the side of a saucer, the unsharpened side of a heavy knife or other object to pound the breast into a thin piece thats uniformly thick (about an inch). Salt and pepper the chicken generously, then coat with flour. Melt butter in a large skillet and brown chicken on both sides.

    Remove chicken from skillet. Add lemon juice, chicken broth and wine. Boil down until its about one-half cup. Place chicken back in skillet, cover and cook 3 minutes. Remove cover and serve.

    Marilyn's Chicken Marsala
    4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
    All-purpose flour, for dredging
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
    8 ounces crimini or porcini mushrooms, stemmed and halved
    1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
    1/2 cup chicken stock
    2 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
    Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them; pound with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly.

    Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet. When the oil is nice and hot, dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Slip the cutlets into the pan and fry for 5 minutes on each side until golden, turning once do this in batches if the pieces don't fit comfortably in the pan. Remove the chicken to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm.

    Lower the heat to medium and add the prosciutto to the drippings in the pan, saute for 1 minute to render out some of the fat. Now, add the mushrooms and saute until they are nicely browned and their moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Pour the Marsala in the pan and boil down for a few seconds to cook out the alcohol. Add the chicken stock and simmer for a minute to reduce the sauce slightly. Stir in the butter and return the chicken to the pan; simmer gently for 1 minute to heat the chicken through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

  • wizardnm
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Listen to Chase...she has good advice.

    One of our favorite quickies is chicken fried cubed pork steaks... no recipe.. just season some flour (I use S+P, sage and a little garlic powder) and dredge the pork steak in it, fry in a little bit of oil, remove from pan, scrape up any browm bits, add a little butter to the pan if there's not much left, sprinkel with flour (I use any leftover seasoned flour) mix with any fat and slowly add milk, stirring constantly, for a nice milk gravy. Served at this house with mashed potatoes, creamed corn and applesauce.

    Another quicky... I brown ground beef, stir in a cup of reg rice, a pint of salsa and a pint of diced tomatoes, Simmer about 20 min, until rice is cooked. Rven faster using Minute rice.

    Put your crockpot into use and have dinner cooking when you go to pick up Will....

    Cook large enough quanities so you can put enough in the freezer for another night.

    Cook a roast or two on the weekend, plan for the leftovers... turn roast beef into a great hash, both beef and pork leftover roast are gret with BBQ sauce another night....I love having leftover roast pork for making fried rice...

    Remember all those recipes for crustless quiche using Bisquick? I do those for an easy meal...

    A pot of ham and beans is quick...just have to rember to soak beans the night before...

    I went thru my online file and found some ideas that are pretty quick...

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    Green Chile and Jack Chicken


    2 teaspoons butter
    2 teaspoons oil
    4 cloves garlic -- minced
    4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
    1 cup chicken broth
    4 ounces chopped green chiles -- (or 1-2 teaspoons chipotle chiles in adobo sauce)
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    1 cup heavy cream
    2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese

    In ovenproof skillet, melt butter with oil. Add garlic and chicken and cook 10 minutes, turning once. Remove chicken.

    Deglaze pan with chicken broth. Return chicken to skillet. Add undrained chiles and mustard. Simmer, uncovered, until chicken is done, about 15 minutes. Liquid should cook down and be syrupy.

    Creamy Southwest Chicken This skillet chicken dish is one you can have on the table in 20 minutes, start to finish, using canned green chiles and shredded cheese. The chiles are mild, so this isn't a spicy dish, but is a tasty one. Serve with refried beans and/or a salad and sliced avocados. INGREDIENTS: 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts 1/4 C minced onion 2 cloves minced garlic 6\-8 oz canned chopped green chiles (depending on can size) Optional: small amt of chicken stock or Better than Boullion 1/4 C cream 1/3 C shredded cheddar or jack cheese Olive oil Salt, pepper PREPARATION: 1\) Heat large skillet with oil. 2\) Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Saute' till brown on both sides, adding onions about half way through. 3\) Add garlic and cook for another minute. 4\) If needed, deglaze the pan with a little water or chicken stock. Add 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon if desired. 5\) Add green chiles and cream, and simmer until chicken is done and sauce is thickened. 6\) Top with cheese, and serve when cheese melts. Optional garnish: avocado slices; cilantro Makes 3\-4 servings Nutritional Analysis for each of 3 servings: 4.5 grams of effective carbohydrate plus 1.5 grams fiber, 38 grams protein, 18 grams of fat, 347 calories.

    Source of Recipe

    CF Marilyn

    Recipe Introduction

    Here is the Sausage Marzetti recipe - easy and good - last night I used fire roasted tomatoes in it, really gives it a rich taste.

    5 oz. packaged noodles; cook & drain
    1# bulk sausage (I use the kind with sage.)
    1 medium onion chopped
    2 stalks celery; chopped
    1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes (Italian seasoned are good.)
    ¼ cup dry white wine (optional)
    ¼ cup water
    2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
    1 tablespoon brown sugar (dont leave this out!)
    salt & pepper to taste

    In a large skillet, combine sausage, onion and celery. Cook until sausage is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes, wine, water, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, salt and pepper; stir well. Simmer 15 minutes. Add noodles; heat and serve

    SPICY CHEESEBURGER SOUP This is a T+T soup that I have made many times. Great with some homemade bread for dinner. I often double and freeze the extra for a "POOF" night. SPICY CHEESEBURGER SOUP 2 C cubed potatoes (peeling optional) 1½ C water 2 carrots, grated ½ C chopped onion ½ C chopped green pepper 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tsp salt 1 Tabsp beef bouillion granuals Combine the above in a large pan and cook until potatoes are tender. 1 lb lean ground beef Brown and drain ground beef and stir into cooked potatoes 2½ C milk 3 Tabsp flour Combine flour and milk and stir into soup. Bring to a boil then reduce heat. ½ lb Velveeta Cheese, cubed ½ tsp cayenne pepper Stir into soup, just until cheese is melted. bacon crumbles (optional) Top each serving with bacon if desired. Makes 4\-6 servings

    Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos


    Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

    1 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
    3/4 cup bottled chunky medium-hot salsa
    2 tablespoons chopped garlic
    1 tablespoon (packed) dark brown sugar
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
    1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (optional)

    Combine the salsa, brown sugar and soy sauce and pour over the meat in the slow cooker insert. Cover and cook for 8 hours on LOW or 5 to 6 hours on HIGH, or until the meat is fork-tender. Shred the meat with two forks and stir in cilantro and lime juice if using.

    Set out taco shells (I like small soft corn tortillas) and all the fixings


  • Gina_W
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Girlfriend - you need a spa day all for yourself!

    I like to make a bunch of meatballs and freeze them raw on cookie sheets, then bag them up to keep ready in the freezer. You can make spaghetti and meatballs with a jarred sauce, you can saute the meatballs, add veggies and asian spices and serve with rice. You can make meatball lettuce wraps, meatball minestrone soup (chicken broth, vegetables, canned kidney and/or garbanzo beans, noodles). You can smash them and make sloppy joe's, hot meatball sandwiches with melted cheese and marinara sauce. The possibilities are endless...

    Buy rotisserie chickens and keep them on hand. You can make chicken tacos, chicken enchiladas, chicken curry (search for my recent recipe for Butter Chicken), chicken and peas in a creamy sauce on pasta, chicken sandwiches...

    Microwave chicken quesadillas - shred chicken, cover a tortilla with shredded cheeses, the chicken, canned corn, bell pepper, whatever you like. One more layer of cheese, then the top tortilla. Build several of these. Place them on top of each other on a microwave-safe dish. Nuke just until cheese has melted. Remove and cut into wedges. Serve with sour cream and salsa. 10-minute meals - Yeah!

    Don't forget to use the chicken carcass for big pots of broth you can use for soups.

    Kids and dads and everyone like to dip stuff, so to keep things healthy - cut up a bunch of fresh vegetables - carrots, celery, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, jicama, etc. into dip-sized pieces, add cherry tomatoes. Bag them individually for each day. Serve with your favorite ranch and blue cheese dressings for dipping.

  • Terri_PacNW
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing these recipes Ladies..I'll be back to collect them..

    Stacy..I feel your pain..I was sick yesterday, but put in my time in the Art room...came home and basically slept from 12:45 until bedtime, okay through into this morning..The boys didn't bother me to much...But I'm not sure if they ate anything other than a sandwich or bowls of cereal..(Hubby had his basketball night.)
    Today, I made them turkey tacos..I had to hit all three's conferences this am..Feeling better today, but still a bit drained...Dinner tonight...UH.....I dunno..maybe breakfast, or fried rice. I'll have to make more rice, but I have leftover pork loin from Tuesday.

    Fried Rice is one of my go to's..because you can get just about everything and then some into it for a "balanced" meal..and using leftovers makes it really quick.

    I have a "canned" meal they love..

    I don't make it often because of the processed products..but it's a good filling meal..and they ALL love it.

    Crock Pot Chili Dogs
    2 cans of no bean chili
    1 can of cheese soup (whatever flavor you like)
    1 sm can diced green chilies
    Mix together in a crock pot, throw in a package of hotdogs, cook on low 3-4 hours.

  • stacy3
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    First, thanks everyone for recognizing that I'm a bit "down"...if I did a spa day, all I'd do is think about what I should be doing instead...

    Teresa, stir fry is a great idea. I have a great wok burner thingy with my new stove and have barely used it. And boy oh boy would the boys love that lo mein - thank you.

    Thanks for the words of wisdom Sharon...I like your idea of days dedicated to one thing - and I try to do that - really - but there always seems to come a phone call. My mom needs something - or the school does, or lately - Scott seems to be finding time to want to come home for "lunch" during the day?!?!?! What's up with that? In his defense, he's probably feeling neglected, but to take time out for "that" each day at noon and interrupt a room that i may have just torn apart - well, my heart's just not in it - lol.

    Part of it might be just that. That everyone knows I don't "work" so I am at their disposal...sheesh, I have a degree - I used to work - it might be easier to just find a job.

    Linda, I didn't post to the "chemistry" thread - but wow, was I impressed with your suggestions! Anyway, see, I am jusst frazzled and couldn't even come up with frozen chicken breasts on my own...Your comment about it not having to be a recipe was very enlightening to me. I think I've kind of gotten to that. Very dependent on you all - lol!

    Carol, that is wonderful - all the ways to do chicken! Thank you!

    Nancy, thanks for the wonderful suggestions - I've never tried the marzetti - I will have to SOON. ANd the slow cooker tacos. ANd the green chile and jack chicken is a new one to me. They all look great.

    Gina, rotisserie chickens - fabulous idea! And I just used up some meatballs I had frozen - you've inspired me to make more. And bag up the veggies by day is a superb idea. it doesn't get any easier. thank you.
    Oh, and what is (I think you said) turkish seasoning that you used on your chicken wings??? They sounded good.

    Terri, you have way more of a right to whine than I do - lol! I hope you're feeling better. You inadvertenly gave me a suggestion, I think. I forget about breakfast for dinner. I should be sure to have sausage or bacon in the freezer, too. And I can see Scott LOVING those chili dogs - lol! Thank you too.

    Now, I was late coming from the Y and am still at a loss for tonight. sigh. I'm scrolling back up. I know there are a couple ingredients that I don't have - like heavy cream or hot dogs, or 3 hours - hee hee.

    I am turning this around starting tomorrow...
    Thanks again.

  • Terri_PacNW
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Stacy, just make waffles and eggs...If you have some meat..good, if you don' worries...

  • Gina_W
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Stacy, when I bake chicken wings I never make the same spice rub, LOL. Penzey's Turkish seasoning includes salt, cumin, garlic, paprika, oregano. I always use salt and sugar (or brown sugar), and add whatever spices strike my fancy that day when I look at my spice collection. You can't go wrong - you want to cover the wings in spices. If you have a convection oven it takes very little time to bake them. (I don't know exactly how long - I just look to see if they're crispy-looking.)

    I forgot about my "instant" chili: Saute onion, garlic, 1 pound or so of lean ground beef, salt and pepper until onion is tender andbeef is cooked. Add 2 cans of stewed tomatoes (15oz or so), 1-2 cans of kidney beans, can of black beans, spices - chili powder, cumin, oregano. Simmer 10 minutes. Voila! Serve on rice or with bread. (Double the amounts for great-tasting leftovers for another meal).

    Guilt over a spa day? Take Scott with you!

  • elisamcs
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    One of the things I do, when I remember to do it, is prep my veggies for a few days in advance. I cut celery, onions, peppers, etc. and put them in Lock and Locks, or other air tight containers. They stay very fresh, and it makes things go so much more quickly. I've even browned meats and grated cheese in advance. Ever notice how on the food tv shows they put dishes together really, really quickly? This is part of the reason. That, and their staffs of 100 behind the scenes!

  • TobyT
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Since the girls started back to school in September, I've been spending a couple of hours every second weekend making "pockets." I use my regular pizza dough - once I used frozen w/w dough to speed things up. I divide into 2-3 ounce balls and roll into thin circles or if pressed for time, I roll the whole thing out and cut into squares. Then - the sky's the limit. Ham, cheese, pineapple and pizza sauce, roast beef, swiss, horseradish, ham & cheddar, pepperoni - even did pb & j. Fold them over, crimp the edges, bake til brown and crusty. Cool them and throw them in the freezer. The kids grab one in the morning and it thaws by lunch, or we heat up a few for supper with soup or a salad. Since I work during the week, I always do a couple of things toward weekday meals on the weekend. Often make a big pot of soup or a bean dish and anything that can be frozen, I always make at least two of; lasagna, meatloaf, meatballs, mac n cheese...
    But cut yourself some slack - take out subs can be healthy, and are primarily fresh ingredients. That's our go-to fast food. The main thing is to be good to yourself when you need it, because "if the momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"

  • pink_overalls
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I hope you're feeling like you're getting a handle on this. I know it can be overwhelming. Meal prep always takes me longer than I expect.

    Think about ways to save yourself some cleanup time. Bake whole russets or yams without so much as a baking sheet to wash. Line the casserole, roasting pan, pizza sheet, or meat loaf dish with foil, and if you are careful not to pierce it, you'll be able to toss it after cooking, and avoid the pot washing. Microwave things like frozen or canned vegetables, deli meats, soup, cous cous, canned beans, or homemade burritos, right their serving dish. Make more one-dish meals, like hearty pasta soups with plenty of fresh toppings, Vietnamese or Japanese style. Serve a meal of a big salad and grilled meat and you have zero cooking pots. Have you considered an occasional paper plate and cup night? Build your own sandwich buffet? Potato bar? Are you making full use of what I call "my staff" -- bread machine, crock pot, programmable oven? Prewashed salad greens can be your new best friend, and take the guilt out of a meal of convenience foods.

  • giftguru
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Sister, I love recipes but then there is the whole aspect of ACTUALLY cooking them..go figure.

    Go to my page and copy and paste some goodies...

    Hope I helped !!!!!

  • Karigraphy
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Stacy - I'm in the same boat with two elementary school children and lots of afternoon activities.

    I try to make things manageable a couple of ways. First, I make a weekly menu and shop for everything on Sunday to take a lot of guess work out of "what's for dinner?"

    Most weeks, I pick one night to cook a recipe that will have leftovers to use for future POOF dinners: meatloaf, meatballs (I bake them in advance), soups/stews, etc. I often get a rotisserie chicken and use the leftovers for a future meal and make stock out of the bones. Chicken one night, soup about two days later.

    There is nothing wrong with using convenience foods if you're checking the labels. We will have a couple of cans of Progresso Hearty Tomato soup with sandwiches some nights. I get some frozen chicken burritos and a can of pre-cooked rice and beans for another quick dinner, throw in some frozen corn kernels.

    Ham steaks are the easiest things going. Chicken sausage can also be quickly browned in a skillet or grill pan.

    So are veggie burgers - I've been loving Morningstar flavor - "garden veggie patties." You can eat them on a bun or cut them up into pasta.

    My other favorite convenience food is Success brown rice, boil-in-the bag. You can put them in the microwave for 10 minutes with water, two at a time, and have OK rice by the time dinner is ready.

    We've also been getting (sorry to offend anyone), frozen veggies in plastic bags made to throw right in the microwave. One of the big companies makes them.

    I'll sometimes use pre-made stirfry sauce, diced chicken, frozen petite broc florets, and crinkle cut carrots for a stirfry.

    Good brown rice that takes 45 minutes to cook can be frozen if you double the recipe and have leftovers.

    I've picked up a few quickie recipes here and there that are the back-of-the-box type of recipes that throw together very quickly. I'll see if I can post them later because I have to get to the grocery store for laundry detergent before the bus arrives!

    There's always pizza!


  • canarybird01
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Poor you Stacy....I hope you can find a way to get it all together and figure out a way to have a few simple standby meals for when you just don't feel like doing more....and cleaning up the mess.

    As we keep Spanish mealtimes....dinner, (ie main meal of the day) is between 1 and 4 pm which is sometimes difficult to manage when the mornings are the busiest times for getting other things done outside of the house. So although there's just the two of us and we go out a lot, I've also got a few things I do when I need to get a dinner ready within half an hour, with little mess.
    I think sometimes pictures help to inspire so here goes:
    I think of the meal as meat....vegetables....and/or salad.

    Two fast ways with vegetables:

    1. Potatoes or yams...scrub with vegetable brush, and leaving skins on slice in half and put on tin foil-lined roaster tray with halved onion, peppers, cauliflower, garlic cloves, any other veggies that roast well. Drizzle with olive oil and fresh thyme. Roast in oven 20 - 30 minutes. If you cut them in small pieces, they roast in shorter time.
    That's all the veggies done and only the tray to rinse after you throw away the tin foil.
    I use my small counter top oven for doing veggies that way.

    2. Steamed vegetables:

    I use the biggest pot I have, putting water in the bottom and a fan-folding steam basket. Turn on stove and put on the lid. Start peeling potatoes (or don't peel them, just scrub and half or quarter them)....add them to pot. Start peeling yams or turnips....add to pot...(by this time potatoes are partially cooked)....peel & chop carrots....add to pot....prepare and slice green beans, chopped leeks, sliced onions or whatever needs little cooking time - frozen peas - and add to pot. By this time your pot of veggies needs only another ten minutes to be all ready.
    Be sure and save what's left of the water for a gravy or soup.


    Make whole meal salads in one bowl, such as a Niçoise which contains green beans and cooked potatoes as well as tuna and greens. Add chickpeas or cooked lentils for more protein and filling up.

    The Meat Part of the Plate

    If you have your oven on for the vegetables, put in a piece of fish, turkey breast, chicken or sausages in a casserole dish with onions, tomato, herbs etc. so it cooks along with the veggies but in its own container. Fish cooks in 20 - minutes, same as the veggies. So far you have the veggies all together in one container and the meat or fish in another. The swiss steak in the photo was done on stovetop but could be slow roasted in the oven....that would need an hour. The last pic is a turkey breast roasted in onion, apricot jam and orange slices with thyme.

    Other Ideas:

    Vegetable tortilla.....use up leftovers in a Spanish omelette, with slices of ham or leftover cold chicken. Turkey-chicken patties...make ahead and freeze; baked mac & cheese.

    While the oven's on, core some apples and put in a pyrex dish with butter, brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon & walnuts. When you've finished dining on the first course, your baked apples will be ready.


  • Terri_PacNW
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Sharon that is an amazing pictorial plan!!!!!!

  • ziporion
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I've got some lentil soup recipes that are easy, tasty and cook up quickly. Let me know if you're interested.

    Good luck, Stacy, looks like you've got lots to work with here.


  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    My all time favorite meal growing up? Breakfast at night. Probably because there were no vegetables but I grew up just fine and love vegetables now. But I have the best memories of waffles and sausage or pancakes for dinner. Mom did this about every three weeks. So, probably no help here from me. However, don't worry about it=KISS

  • stacy3
    Original Author
    14 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    oh my , you have all brought tears to my eyes. I don't know what else to say.

    Such wonderful suggestions...kari - I haven't seen you in awhile - thanks for some very worthwhile advice. Funny, but first thing that stood out was breaking up those veggie burgers into a pasta dish...:-)

    SharonCB - goodness, girl. I can't think of an instance on this forum where you haven't been near first in line to offer help. That's why I so jumped at the chance to help you, before. You are an inspiration.

    Catherine, hello, friend. :-)

    I had a couple years where I couldn't eat lentils. After I had the flu after eating them...:-(

    But, it was a long time ago, and I'd love your recipes - I love lentils now. And appreciate them.

    BBumb;ebeez - oh heck, I was going to fix that but sorry...:-)

    I LOVE the suggestion of breakfast for diinner and will most likely use that soon - yes it was a help! Thank you.


  • ziporion
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Hi Stacy,
    I'll get those recipes for you tonight.

    PS We had breakfast for supper last night -- what a treat!


  • shaun
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Aw Stacy, you're spreading yourself too thin my friend. You're feeling overwhelmed by all of it.

    I love all the ideas posted above. What great ideas. There's nothing more I can add to what's been written but I just wanted to give you a virtual hug.

    Hang in there and learn to say 'sorry but not right now'.

    When you don't work outside the home people will take advantage of you. They think you have nothing to do so they won't think twice to ask you to run an errand for them or do something for them.

    One time my former neighbor asked me to take her mother to get her mammogram. Being that I can't say no either, I said yes. This mammo place was about a 30 min drive one way. Then the waiting,omg it took forever, then the drive back home. Ruined my whole day I tell ya. So as we pulled into my driveway I looked across the street at their house and my neighbor's car was there. I asked her mother why her car was there, (I thought she had to work) and her mother said, "Oh, she had a pedicure appt., she must be back already".

    I almost flipped out. That was the last time I did anything for them. I kept being "busy". They took complete advantage of me.

    So my friend, pick and choose what you'd like to do for everyone and but always put yourself first.

    Hope things calm down for you soon.


  • pkramer60
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Stacy, I can fully understand what you are feeling. I have been th same but kids are not the reason. I have the adult version, the parents to care for. With Mom in and out of the hospital, in again now, I am beat. The thought of making dinner the other night put me into tears and I am not the weepy sort.

    Hang in there, you will gt your "umph" back. Relax and give yourself a few days off and try the above recipes. I know I will!


  • lakeguy35
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Have you thought about Breakfast for dinner? We loved that when we were kids and I still do the same during the work week with my long commute. Pancakes, waffles, french toast, and omelets are fast and easy. You can add any side you like to these and have a fairly quick meal/dinner.

    Here is another fairly quick one. I like it with a side of rice (different kinds)and steamed veggies...add a simple salad if you like.

    4 boneless, skinless chicken breast haves
    Kosher salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder
    4 tablespoons mayonnaise
    4 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan
    1 cup fresh coarse bread crumbs or Panko
    Chopped parsley

    Season chicken lightly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Combine mayonnaise and cheese.
    Coat each breast with 2 tablespoons mixture, putting more on top. Place in a lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and top with parsley. Bake at 400 until juice run clear (20 minutes).

    I'll add that take-out or order-in is okay too. I know I do it and so did my DM when life was crazy.


  • Terrapots
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Ifeel for you but I also don't like to spend a lot of time cooking although I don't like prepackaged meals. You've got a lot of good suggestions here and I plan to copy and save for myself. There are some good ideas in this 5 ingredient recipe link. I would also recommend the site with the Impossible Pies or casseroles that use Bisquick. I think keeping the number of ingredients short is the quickest meal preparation and, of course, a lot depends on your own family. When I worked, went to college and had four kids at home I prepared a couple of large roasts or casseroles on the weekend to for the busiest days, as well as veggies and salad greens to use. This saved me a lot of time as it saved cleanup and cook times. We had leftovers one day a week and kids always looked forward to this day, believe it or not.

  • Terri_PacNW
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I'm trying this tonight...

  • ziporion
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Hi Stacy,
    A day late, but here are some quick and tasty recipes. I hope you like them.

    30 Minute Lentil Soup

    1-2 T olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    3 carrots, chopped
    1 potato or sweet potato, chopped
    1 T tomato paste
    1 T Patak's curry paste (I use mild)
    2 1/2 c. each veggie stock and water
    1 1/2 c. red lentils, rinsed and drained
    2 c. freshly chopped spinach or swiss chard

    Saute veggies for about 5 minutes in pan. Add tomato paste and curry paste and let simmer for a few minutes. Then add veggie stock, water and lentils, bring to a boil, then simmer about 25-30 minutes or until done. Add spinach at end. If using swiss chard add about 5 minutes before the end. Salt and pepper to taste. (I know, it's a bit more than 30 minutes, but not too much more! Also I leave the spinach out so my kids will eat this soup).

    Lentil & Potato soup with spiced oil (Madhur Jaffrey)

    6 c. water
    1 1/2 c. lentils
    1 red pepper, chopped
    2 med potatoes, cubed
    2 carrots, 1/3" rounds
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 celery stalks, chopped
    1/4 c. soy sauce
    1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
    1 bay leaf

    Spiced Oil
    2 T. olive oil
    1 tsp ground ginger
    1 tsp tumeric
    1 tsp ground cumin

    Combine all ingredients except Spice Oil stuff in pan. Cover and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, warm the oil in a small pan over low heat for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add spices. Stir and set aside. When soup is cooked, add the spiced oil. Season with salt and pepper, remove bay leaf and serve!

    Here's one that is ready in the time it takes to boil water for pasta.

    Adele's chickpea tomato garlic soup

    1/3 c. olive oil
    8 cloves minced garlic
    1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    1 19 oz can tomato sauce
    1/2 c. chopped parsley

    8 cups water
    1 T salt
    1 1/2 c. medium seashell pasta

    Put water in soup pot and cover and bring to a boil. At the near boiling point add the salt.
    Meanwhile, in another pan, gently heat oil and add garlic until fragant. Then add 1 can chickpeas and the tomato sauce. Simmer. Add chopped parsley.

    When water has boiled, add seashell pasta and cook until tender, about 9 minutes. Do not drain. At this time add the tomato mixture to the pasta pan. Stir to combine. Serve in bowls with grated parmesan cheese.

    This is quickly whipped up and sometimes a great Friday night supper with either cheese and baguettes or veggies and dip.

    Quick pasta sauce

    (Adapted from Bonnie Stern, Heart Smart Cooking)

    Put a pan of pasta water on and prepare the sauce.

    In a small pan put some olive oil (a few tablespoons). Cut an onion in half and smash up about 3 cloves of garlic. Let oil heat in pan and onion simmer a bit. Puree a can of tomatoes, add a bit of basil, oregano, and marjoram, and let simmer while you wait for the pasta to cook. If you have some parlsey in the house, it's a nice addition near the end. When done, add sauce to pasta. Nice served with a salad.

    I have faith in you! You'll be out of this slump in no time and back posting beautiful photos on the what's for dinner thread! Chin up sista!


  • stacy3
    Original Author
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Shaun, thanks for the support, I know you know what I mean...

    Peppi, you too. I know when my mom has been in one of her cycles of being in the hospital alot, it is exhausting - physically and emotionally. (she is now in a nursing home with "end-stage" copd - and was deemed hospice eligible 4 years lots of ups and downs) You hang in there too, darlin.

    David, thanks - we love Mique's recipe and I had forgotten about that one - I will definitely plan on that soon!

    terrapots, I love that link - I will be copying from that one! And wow - 4 kids, college, and work? No I feel like a baby - lol.

    terri, how was that meatloaf? looks wonderful - Will would love it.

    Catherine, thanks for coming back - I'm copying your recipes as well. Lentils are so good for you - and I don't eat enough of them. That spiced soup sounds like Scott would love it, he's always trying to get me to make more Indian spiced foods. And I love chickpeas. These recipes look great.

    Thanks for all the kindness everyone. Now I have gotten myself into hosting our annual Halloween party on Saturday. I love Halloween, and usually look forward to this, but am having trouble gettin it in gear this year...but I sooooo wanted to make that MEathead - so we are doing it! lol.


  • lpinkmountain
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Stacy, I'm a vegetarain so I can't really offer many good selections for you, but I do know this, when I am home and want a stress free dinner on Sundays, what I love is something with the crockpot that I put together in the morning. Not only does it make my dinner stress free, the wonderful smell of food cooking cheers me up throughout the day. I make a lot of soup in the crockpot which I then freeze to have on hand for quickie meals.

  • Carol Schmertzler Siegel
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Stacy and Peppi, hope you are both hanging in there!

    Was thinking of you today, Stacy, we had a very hearty soup for dinner and the prep wasn't too bad, it just had to simmer for a while, and it was a filling meal because of the barley and the meatballs. We had it with a salad and I'll freeze it in portions so I can just grab it from the freezer for a POOFed dinner another time. It's from this month's Food and Wine, came out great!

    I used chicken stock instead of beef broth, added a couple pieces of flanken (short ribs) for flavor, some shredded carrots and some dried porcini mushrooms. and I simmered it for a couple hours on low.

    Mushroom Barley Soup with Mini Meatballs
    from Food & Wine, November 2007 - recipe by Grace Parisi

    4 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth
    1 cup water
    1/2 cup pearled barley
    1 large thyme sprig
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 pound mixed wild and cultivated
    mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (or 3/4-pound presliced mushrooms)
    1 large shallot, finely chopped
    1/2 pound ground sirloin
    1 large egg
    2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
    2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
    2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
    Sour cream, for serving (optional)

    In a large saucepan, combine the stock, water, barley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the barley is nearly tender, about 18 minutes.

    Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add the mushrooms and shallot, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until tender and browned, about 8 minutes.

    In a medium bowl, combine the sirloin, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Knead the mixture until blended, then roll it into sixteen 1-inch balls.

    Add the meatballs and mushrooms to the soup and simmer over moderate heat until the meatballs are cooked through and the barley is tender, about 8 minutes. Discard the thyme. Stir the parsley into the soup and serve in bowls with sour cream.

  • Terri_PacNW
    13 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Meatloaf was very very good!!! Give it a whirl!