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Thread: Better suggestions for dinner "on the run"?

  1. #1
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    Better suggestions for dinner "on the run"?

    Due to my kids' after school sports, on at least three nights per week we do not get home until either 7:45 or 8:45. They can't wait that late to eat dinner. As a result, it seems like we are always eating out fast food (unhealthy and expensive), or at Whole Foods (somewhat healthier, but even more expensive).

    Any ideas for some sort of "dinner" that I could bring along? I've really been striking out on this because a) it also needs to be eaten on the run or in the car, so it can't be too complicated; b) I don't plan ahead enough and by the time I'm getting ready to leave I don't have time to make and pack up a dinner -- maybe something that could be made on the weekend with minimum "day of use" prep time? c) the two of them often don't like the same things.

    This is one of my biggest discretionary spending items that I have not been successful in curtailing, so any suggestions would be welcome. Trying to have a new start on this with the New Year. I do have these short wide-mouth thermoses that you can eat out of, so maybe something that could go in there, like chili, or some sort of pasta/meat combo? They like burritos but very hard to keep warm for hours (I have to leave my house at 3:30).

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    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    First things that come to mind: handpies/calzones, sandwiches, quiche, bento plates of cheese, nuts, dried fruit and maybe meat like ham or pepperoni. All of these can be served room temperature, and don't make a ton of mess/crumbs in your car. Some of these could be prepared on the weekend and frozen, then thawed in the frig to bring with (but they are better served warm/room temp). You could also make soups/stews/chili on the weekend for the freezer in individual amounts, and then heated and put into the thermos. Baked potatoes with a salad. A picnic basket lined with newspaper and then foil can be used to keep things warm (maybe a brick that's been heated in there too), or alternatively a cooler lined with newspaper and foil.

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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Have you considered an Instant Pot where you make the meal earlier in the day and keep it at the warm setting for 13 hours so that you can feed the family on a tight schedule whenever they are in the house. Fill the thermos as you go out the door to keep warm. Sandwiches with a hot solid soup like pea soup or beef and barley work well.

    Other than that feed the family concentrated foods like nuts etc suggested above.
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    When we had these issues I just made sandwiches and brought fruit and drinks for the kids. That way they could eat in the car and not make a big mess.

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    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    I like the sandwich idea; prep time is minimal, fillings can be different for each kid, and they don't have to be kept super-warm or super-cold for how long they need to keep. Supplement them with veggies (carrots, celery, snap peas, cauliflower) you cut up over the weekend (or even buy pre-prepped at the supermarket; still likely cheaper than fast food) and you've got a meal. You won't want to prepare these too far in advance or the bread and fillings won't have the right textures.

    To me, "on the run" implies "finger food" -- stuff that can be eaten sans utensils. In this realm, any number of snack or appetizer items could be pressed into service for dinner: celery filled with peanut butter or cream cheese or mascarpone; little pre-made lettuce rollups holding a protein-and-veggie mixture; maybe savory quick-bread muffins filled with, say, ham and cheese and some spinach or broccoli or kale; crackers topped with cheese and hardier lunch meats (salami instead of turkey breast, etc.);...
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

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    If you have a blender and cups, I might suggest smoothies for high protein, low-fat, high carb meals on the run. Fitness gurus may have better ideas, but I would probably whip something up based on banana/pineapple, soy milk, whey powder, brown rice protein powder. Certain kids may have a fondness for chocolate, nuts, or specific fruits and vegetables.

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    Thanks for the great suggestions! I have mostly tried sandwiches previously but there has been a rebellion against PB&J (which is not much of a dinner anyway) and I'm trying to avoid "processed meats," not have tuna too often due to mercury, etc. Look forward to trying your ideas, thank you.

    By the way, does anyone have an understanding of whether ALL "processed meats" are bad for you? For example, if I am buying uncured bacon or salami or cold cuts without nitrates, am I then okay, or is all of this still the bad thing that is linked to cancer and heart disease?

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamalatte View Post
    Thanks for the great suggestions! I have mostly tried sandwiches previously but there has been a rebellion against PB&J (which is not much of a dinner anyway) and I'm trying to avoid "processed meats," not have tuna too often due to mercury, etc. Look forward to trying your ideas, thank you.

    By the way, does anyone have an understanding of whether ALL "processed meats" are bad for you? For example, if I am buying uncured bacon or salami or cold cuts without nitrates, am I then okay, or is all of this still the bad thing that is linked to cancer and heart disease?
    Most processed meats especially sausage like salami and typical cold cuts are full of sodium and fat.

    chicken breasts or even dark meat for that matter would be good for your kids. Grounds turkey is smethng wlse to comsider. But cheese sandwishces are fine for a break from meat.

    the whole “bad for you” thing I wont address because it all depends.

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    I dont go with good or bad. All things should be in moderation. People will fill their kids with organic milk and food and then take them to McDonalds. Almost anything is dangerous or bad in big quantities. I dont go for most processed meats due to the salt/sugar and preservatives contained in them. But some of the bulk deli meats cut as needed can be fine. Ask to look at the label or check on line. I am thinking of things like plain Boars Head meats or similar. They have low sodium meats with no added sugars.


    The great thing about muffins, meatloaf in cupcake cups, quiche in cupcake cups is that they can be batch made, customized and frozen or refrigerated.

    A hard boiled egg or a chicken piece, a big homemade muffin, an apple or banana would be pretty good for a quick meal.

    A big rotisserie chicken or two can be separated into breast meat for slicing or chunking, legs and thighs for eating as is and pieces to use on a quick salad or for chicken salad on a sandwich. Or just roast a bunch of pieces on Sunday with some plain and some flavored or with a coating and eat for several days.

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    Makes me think of the times when I was a kid and nearest McDonalds was 75 miles away. My mom would just make a meal, put in on a plate, cover with aluminum foil and brought us dinner. Now I would probably put nearly any type of food in a large burrito tortilla, add a piece of fruit and water for kids and still do the dinner on an aluminum covered plate or a fancy divided, disposable dinner plate for adults who are not prone to be messy.

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