How to always have something for dinner – meal planning made easy

tuna sub

 

It happens to all of us – you forget to take something out of the freezer for dinner. Heck, I’m not a morning person. It’s hard enough for me to get my butt out the door on time – let alone be thinking about dinner first thing in the morning. Yeah, me! Fresh food fanatic.

So what’s the first thing you do?

Most people start planning which fast food joint they’ll stop at.

Aren’t you sick of that?

Not to mention that it’s expensive, tastes bad, is boring, is keeping you fat, is robbing you of your energy, is making your health problems worse (which is costing you even more money), make hot flashes worse, adds to ED problems, keeps you feeling depressed, … shall I go on?

But you feel kind of helpless, don’t you? The thought of planning dinner after a long day at work is not top on your hit list, is it?

I know how you feel. I used to feel that way too. Boy, when I decided that I was going to try to correct my daughter’s health problems through diet – it was a challenge. After all, you kind of get used to your cooking habits, don’t you? You always fall back on the same old thing over and over again. Everyone does it.

Over the years, I’ve found that cooking fresh can be really fast and easy. I like to think I’m the Queen of the Quick Dinner. If it takes longer than a half hour to get on the table, I rarely make it. I just don’t have the time, or the motivation to spend hours cooking.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the cook all day Sunday and throw it in the freezer stuff. First, I’m not giving up my Sunday. Second, that’s like eating leftovers to me.

We like to eat great tasting fresh food. Don’t you?

I’m such a food snob…

I do have some secrets for making sure I don’t have any real excuses for not cooking a fresh meal. If I have certain staples in the house, I can always whip up a great meal fast –

Eggs, cheese, salsa – Spanish omelets are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Add a salad and some biscuits or toast – and you’ve got a great healthy meal.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders. Even if they’re frozen, you can thaw them quickly in a bowl of cold water. Obviously, thinner cuts will thaw faster. Keep that in mind when you are doing your stock up shopping. The meals you can make with chicken are endless. Some of our favorites are –

  • Seasoned or teriyaki grilled chicken breast with fresh green beans, buttered noodles and fresh fruit, or
  • Chicken wraps with cheese, refried beans, lettuce, tomato, and fresh fruit on the side, or
  • Barbecued chicken sandwiches with a big tossed salad.
  • If you have some left over spaghetti sauce, you can make chicken Parmesan sandwiches.

Other fast favorites –

Tuna salad on either Italian bread or a kaiser roll with cheese, lettuce and tomato is a great fast meal too.

You can whip up fresh spaghetti sauce pretty quickly too, but it tastes better if you make it the night before. And if you happen to have spaghetti sauce on hand, and some mozerralla on hand – you can make baked mostacolli.I make fake baked most of the time – letting the hot sauce melt the cheese.

Another time saver is forming your hamburgers ahead of time and throwing them in the freezer. I do that when I get home from the grocery store. I use this set to make my burgers and freeze them in one step…

So what do you need to keep in the house to make sure you have quick dinner options on hand?

Here’s my weekly shopping checklist –

Chicken breasts or tenderloins

Pork chops

Steak sometimes

Lean ground beef

Eggs

Cheeses

Lettuce, tomato and other salad fixin’s

Green beans, broccoli, carrots, etc.

Fresh fruits like cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes, pineapple…

Refried beans

Salsa

Your favorite seasonings

Tuna

Canned petite diced tomatoes

Tomato paste

Spaghetti noodles or mostacolli noodles

Package of egg noodles

Italian mini loaves cut into 5 or 6 inch pieces. Keep in a freezer bag in the freezer.

Kaiser rolls (keep a package in the freezer)

Flour tortillas

Baking potatoes, sweet potatoes, and even an occasional bag of French fries make handy side dishes too.

From these, I can put together all kinds of different combinations fast!

Try fresh lemonade, orange juice, V8 juices, or water with lemon instead of pop and you’ll have made a lot of headway in your new healthier eating habits!

See – it’s not that hard! 😉

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