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

  1. #11
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    Yppej, thanks for the idea about deli foods! My husband really likes red skin potato salad from the Walmart deli, although sometimes they don't have it. I could pick up a deli rotisserie chicken while I'd be there.

    I do have long hair, but I'm really a wash-and-go type person. I should clarify that my hair touch up is actually a quick attempt to ensure that it has not become too unruly over the course of my workday--no curler or hairspray involved. I like short hair styles too, and have contemplated going shorter. My niece looks nice in her pixie cut.

  2. #12
    Senior Member Simplemind's Avatar
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    When we are behaving we eat a lot of salad. If we want different "flavors" than our usual home made we buy salad in a bag (Asian, Southwest) and add roast chicken from Costco on the top. We buy two chickens at a time, take all the meat off and bag it in salad for two portions. We then take the bones and make a broth for a big batch of soup to be frozen in portions for two. We will also take the chicken to add to a pepper/onion fajita mix and portion that out and then make fajita quesadillas with a side salad. We will also take the legs off and make a few meals with the legs, quinoa and veggies and freeze those like a TV dinner. I swear we will starve when Costco stops selling chickens...

  3. #13
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    I would order in. Cheaper and more restful.

    I would not cook for 3 other grown people after working 12+ hours.

    They could cook for you?

  4. #14
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    I would order in. Cheaper and more restful.

    I would not cook for 3 other grown people after working 12+ hours.

    They could cook for you?
    Yea, I thought of making suggestions and then I was just: a 12 hour day, cooking for 4, and doing some caretaking for a mother, uh no ... I couldn't even do that ... at all ... I'd just collapse. They have more energy than me.

    I work an 8 hour day (but do commute an hour each way so call it 10 if you like) and cook just for me on weekdays. All I care about lately is that food is healthy real food. Ok I often limit red meat and sometimes meat as such, but not always even then. I do rely a lot on canned beans when exhausted (cook with onions/garlics, maybe some cheese, spices), lentil soup is great, a piece of fish or some ground meat cooks up easy. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice (brown rice if I have time). Canned/jarred tuna (good on rice for that matter). None of it impressive but since I'm cooking for me Oh I eat veggies, I take a salad to work for lunch every work day. And yes I have actual dishes I cook that are more work, but the question was what do you cook that's easy, and I often struggle with that too.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  5. #15
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Recently tried a stir-fry recipe that can be adapted easily and it reheats well.

    Saute 3 C chopped onions, carrots, broccoli in a little oil with some garlic (OR grab a package of frozen oriental veggies to lightly saute in a little oil,) add some 2 C cooked meat or chickpeas. Mix and pour in a sauce made up of 1 and 1/2 cup of low-salt chicken bouillon, 1/4 C of low-salt soya sauce and a Tbsp of cornstarch and stir till thickened. Pour over 8 oz egg noodles cooked or rice and scatter a 1/4 C of slivered almonds. I add a small salad of cukes, sliced tomatoes, etc.

    It is so simple and adaptable to different veggies and proteins. The amounts can be modified depending on servings required.

    I must try some lentils one day but find that I don't like the dark colour of the dish if too many dark items.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  6. #16
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    Good morning! Question first: Do you work 3 12s in a row? I know that can make a huge difference in what is doable. I'm a RN working 5d/week and it is rare to be home in less than 11 hours. (oh the joy of Leadership).

    I won't repeat anything I've read here but will add to your arsenal.

    I keep cooked proteins in the freezer. I'll spend a weekend doing the following:
    1. 6-8# roast beef slow cooked in the oven and shredded. This is ready for a stew or soup or taco salads, just add spice and heat.
    2. 2# each, ground turkey/ground beef. Drained and bagged. This is ready for: burritos or enchiladas or taco salads or soups, just add spice and heat up.
    3. 2# each ground turkey/ground beef/Italian sausage. Ready for a fast bolognese.
    4. I always have frozen fish fillets and chicken thighs and breasts in the freezer. Need to take these out before work. Hubby grills them for dinner while I do roasted veggies. Simple and nutritious.
    5. I've been known to cook up huge batches (like 11 quarts), of bolognese and freeze it in 2-3c containers. Toss in a pan for thaw/reheat while pasta is cooking. Dinner in 15 minutes.
    6. Shredded or sliced cheese for quick grilled cheese sands. Add a roasted veg to the plate.

    The reason asked about work shift sequence: Can you do a day of prep? Do the above. And now for freshies:

    Buy bags of ready to eat veggies: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, mushrooms and peas....these all roast nicely in 20" at 425. Quick match up for grilled chicken/fish. Also, these are easy things to send one of the out boys to buy instead of you doing the shopping, along with a roasted chicken or 2.

    Another prepping day (for 3 in a row): Salad Bar. Chop, dice, mince whatever you look and have a bunch of ready containers in the fridge for salad construction. use some of that shredded beef, ground bee and roasted chicken another night. There are 3 salad bars with some variety. Can teach the boys to make quesadillas in the oven to go on the side. This will give you decision-free and pain-free meals for 3d and guess what? The 3 boys can have this out and ready when you arrive home from work!


    With you caring for Mom as well, it's time for the boys to take on some housekeeping stuff. Something I started about 15y ago (we've been married 39y), is after dinner I ask DH what is for dinner the next night. If something needs to be shopped, it gets picked up on the way home. If I leave work first, I stop. If he leaves work first, he stops. We always text "headed home" so I send him a text of what to get if he's out first.

    Sometimes if lunch was late (I brown bag), I'll text hubby and say "I'm not hungry. You're on your own for dinner". sometimes he grabs something on his way home, but usually he fends for himself out of the fridge/freezer.

    And like you, sometimes I'm just too tired and ask "where is dinner".

    I hope something here helps you through this daily quandry.

  7. #17
    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    Gardnr: Do you have a separate freezer unit? It seems like you get maximum value from your freezer. We have a traditional fridge with freezer on top, and we're really challenged to even keep track of what is in there. I don't feel like we even come close to using our freezer to its fullest potential. What we do well is when DH makes beef stew, red sauce with meatballs, chicken soup and similar meals and we freeze them for ready reheat meals.

  8. #18
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    I just realized that the kids are college and high school. They can fend for themselves. Just have easy stuff on hand.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rosarugosa View Post
    Gardnr: Do you have a separate freezer unit? It seems like you get maximum value from your freezer. We have a traditional fridge with freezer on top, and we're really challenged to even keep track of what is in there. I don't feel like we even come close to using our freezer to its fullest potential. What we do well is when DH makes beef stew, red sauce with meatballs, chicken soup and similar meals and we freeze them for ready reheat meals.
    We have a french door over freezer unit in the house. We shopped for the perfect maximized unit. Two full depth drawers and the bottom is divided and full depth. All the precooked meats go in ziploc gallons and live in the bottom left along with frozen chick and beef broth. The right is frozen veggies. All of that listed we keep here. The drawers: 1 contains all my ziplocs of various nuts and the other has odds n ends along with the chicken and fish.

    We do have a 14cf freezer in the garage. This is where the vacuum packed garden harvest goes. By October it is stuffed and by August it's nearly empty.

  10. #20
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    This is a responsive group! I was gone a couple of days and came back to so many wonderful replies!

    Simplemind, different "flavors" of salads sound great and would give us some variety. You have great ideas for the roast chickens too, especially how to make so many meals from them.

    Tammy, my husband makes a good hashbrown casserole, my college-age son can make eggs pretty well and some sandwiches, and my teen son would possibly cook ramen noodles, lol. I need to work on teaching my boys to cook. I've had them in the kitchen some to learn, but they usually scurry off to get on their phones or games.

    ApatheticNoMore, those are great ideas for quick healthy meals! I often have a variety of canned beans on hand. I just picked up some red lentils and may go back for the green lentils they had too. Everyone here eats potatoes pretty well too.

    Razz, I really like stir fry. I think I already have all of those ingredients. Is it 3 cups each of the onions, carrots, and broccoli or 3 cups altogether of them? It sounds really delicious, and my family will love it!

    Gardnr, I work 3 12s in a row usually once every 2 weeks, and 1-2 days at a time here and there. Sometimes I work 4-5 12s in a row if they need extra help, or sometimes I'm scheduled that way. My 16-hr shifts occur when we have some call-ins for the next shift. I really love your ideas for your prep days! This would help tremendously to make dinnertime quicker after work. Also if I have a 16-hr shift, or if I'm just worn out from work, someone else can easily finish getting dinner on the table with all that prep work done ahead of time. I really do need to work with my boys on helping more with housekeeping. They mean well, but can be huge procrastinators. Maybe I can work on a list for them to check off as they complete tasks. I also need to come up with a good balance with work, helping my Mom, and taking care of things at home.

    Thanks everyone for your wonderful ideas!

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