Monday, February 6, 2012

Simple Living: Meals

Several weeks ago, I noticed that my meals have been lacking in a big way.  I have had no creativity, and I’m lucky if we get a meat, potato and vegetables with dinner.  I have been making the same thing over and over again, and it’s been very dull.  I am very fortunate to have a husband who loves to cook.  With his rotating schedule, I get several days throughout the week of not having to worry about what’s for dinner! 
I have found a few ways to resolve my recent lack of cooking inspiration all while keeping it simple and saving time.   This is what I’ve found:

KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

I have big dreams of making these extravagant meals for my husband with ingredients I’ve never heard of and have never tasted before in my life.  I can picture it in my mind: a nice salad, a great meal, some biscuits or rolls on the table and a glass of wine with dessert afterwards.  The truth of the matter is that this is not going to happen!  Yes, sometimes it does when I have all day to prepare it, but on days I work, it’s not!

I am the queen of 5 (or 6) ingredient dishes.  We have our usual favorites, but it is time to add to that list of meals.  I can somewhat achieve my dream of having a really nice meal by making these types of meals in the morning before work, heating them up before hubby gets home and whipping together a small salad. 

There are a lot of resources online that will give you hundreds of recipes with five ingredients or less.  This link shows how many websites have 5 ingredient recipes listed on them.  But I must admit, this one is my favorite for the simplicity.  Many of these recipes require items that are staples in our house, which is why I love them!  No extra (unnecessary) trips to the grocery store to pick anything up!

Don’t forget to check out your local library to see if they have any simple recipe books that you can take out and experiment with the recipes. 

Also, in the line of simple meals, I love to buy roaster chickens.  Not only are they inexpensive per pound, you can you get a meal out of the meat (you can cook it in a crock pot and it falls off the bones!) and afterwards boil the bones to make your own chicken broth.  Add some onion, carrots, celery, left over meat from the chicken carcass and at the end, some egg noodles, and you’ve got yourself a great bowl of chicken noodle soup!  Or chicken and rice soup, whatever you prefer. If you don’t want to make chicken noodle soup, still boil the bones and freeze the chicken stock for recipes calling for it in the future (without having to buy it in the store!)

Use a crock pot

Really, there is nothing easier than throwing dinner in the crock pot and leaving it until dinner time.  I found a great book called Six Ingredient or Less Slow Cookers by Carlean Johnson.  Now this is my type of cooking!  6 ingredients and in a crock pot!  It’s kind of like that commercial, “Fix it, and forget it!” 

I think I’ve used the crock pot more in the past two weeks than I have in the last year.  It is a great way to create something different and not have to stand over the stove all day to make it. 

Crockpot meal at 7:30 AM

Dinner is ready at 6:35 after I get home from work!

Make a double batch & freeze it

After deciding that a recipe is a “keeper,” make a double batch the next go-around.  Immediately freeze the extra portion and thaw it out in a few weeks when it is time to make a meal.  There is nothing better than having a delicious, homemade meal even if it was made a few weeks or a few months ago!

If you only have pieces parts…

There are times that I put off going to the grocery store until we literally have nothing in the fridge but mayo and orange juice!  When the pantry and fridge is looking sparse, try SuperCook and put in the ingredients you have in the cupboards.  It will come up with new recipes using the items you have in your home! I have used it many times to come up with a new recipe with the very little we may have in the cupboards.


Have fun with it

I love to cook, but at times, I dread it.  I like to cook when I want to cook, not when I have to.  It seems after making a few simple yet delicious meals, I become more adventurous.  Remember to set aside a portion of each meal for future use.  There is nothing better than opening up the freezer to decide “What’s for dinner?”

I have taken out the following books from the library and they have already provided several meal ideas for me.  They include:

  • Fix-It and Forget-it 5 Ingredient by Phyllis Pellman Good
  • Once-a-Month Cooking Family Favorites by Mimi Wilson

Happy cooking!

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  1. I love my crockpot, too! It makes life so easy on those super busy days.