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Thread: What to keep on hand for quick weekday meals?

  1. #1
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    What to keep on hand for quick weekday meals?

    I work 12-hr shifts (which sometimes turn into 16-hr shifts without notice). Ideally, I try to plan ahead and completely prepare or heavily prep what to have for dinner on my days off, and when this is done it makes dinner a breeze. Occasionally I am tied up with other things and neglect doing this, especially now that my Mom has been needing additional help. Sometimes I run through a drive thru on the way home, but I have become very tired of drive thru food. Sometimes we end up going out to eat, but this is kind of hard for me because I'm worn out from work, then I have to change my clothes and touch up hair before we go. Then we have to figure out where to go, drive there, perhaps wait for seating, figure out what to order, wait for the server, wait for the food, wait for the check, and drive back home. All this can take up to 2 hours when I am so tired, and normally costs around $50-80 which is a huge hit to my budget just for "convenience." I can whip up a quick spaghetti, or soup and grilled cheese, or a few other quick meals, but I'd like to have more variety. I usually do have pastas, rice, frozen/canned veggies, frozen meats, etc on hand. I'd love to learn what others keep on hand or do for quick weekday meals. In what ways can I best plan ahead for dinner for the times that I don't plan ahead? Incidentally, I am feeding a husband, teen son, and college-age son and nobody has any dietary restrictions.

  2. #2
    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    Tortilla, potatoes, frozen beans (canned also works), shredded cheese, rice, onions, mini peppers, celery are staples. Quesadillas are quick, as are baked (microwaved) potatoes with a veggie side dish. Beans and rice (Mexican flavored or Indian are our favorites). You can also do big batches of a protein and portion those out and freeze. We do this for tacos (we use lentils instead of hamburger). Thaw the "meat", then just chop up some veggies and cheese. We do jambalaya often (from the Good and Cheap cookbook which I believe is still online). Grilling is quick for proteins. Mac and cheese with added vegetables. Pasta and sauce. Those are my usual quick go to's.

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    That's a fantastic list, herbgeek! All of those sound quick and nutritious, and very tasty! I've heard of lentil tacos before, but was afraid of springing them on my husband. He's really good at eating whatever I put in front of him though, lol. I'm definitely going to incorporate your suggestions!

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    I have always kept some convenience foods in the freezer that I can just throw in the oven.

  5. #5
    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    but was afraid of springing them on my husband
    Funny, I'm the lentil hater in our family, my husband loves them. But they're ok with the taco seasoning. Its hard to tell the difference (outside of maybe less fat remaining in your mouth).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher Terry View Post
    I have always kept some convenience foods in the freezer that I can just throw in the oven.
    Good idea! I frequently have frozen french fries and pizza (and of course ice cream!) in my freezer. I used to often buy corn dogs, chicken tenders, sometimes lasagna and pot pies, etc which everyone eats pretty well. Wonder how I got out of that? Will need to restock my freezer now. Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by herbgeek View Post
    Funny, I'm the lentil hater in our family, my husband loves them. But they're ok with the taco seasoning. Its hard to tell the difference (outside of maybe less fat remaining in your mouth).
    That is funny! I've had lentils occasionally and found them to be pretty good. I'm not sure my husband has ever tried them. I do find the super quick cooking time for them to be incredibly interesting, as well as the ability to portion and freeze once cooked. Bet they are tasty with taco seasoning, and definitely look forward to less fat remaining in the mouth. I am wanting to have healthier meals more often.

  8. #8
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I'm a lentil lover. And a hearty lentil soup prepared in a crockpot is indispensable for good, healthy, ready-to-eat. I've been indoctrinating my DH on Lentil Love but for him, it usually takes some nice andouille or chorizo sausage in the soup to satisfy him.

    One time I went away to a short-term rental for 6 weeks and I brought very little with me, but I did bring my lentils and grains. My DD thought it was kind of weird, but I NEED my jars of lentils and grains.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Deli prepared foods would be cheaper than a restaurant. Last night I was at Walmart and knew I would not feel like cooking when I got home so I got some potato salad.

    I never touch up my hair. I wear it short, and even if it were long the customer is always right. I do not need to impress restaurant servers.

  10. #10
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    Catherine, good idea about using a crockpot. I have one languishing in my garage. It would be very convenient to fill it before work and come home to a nice meal. I'll have to remember about adding andouille or chorizo for my husband. Maybe he'll start loving some lentils.

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