Do you ever wonder, “What the hell are we going to have for dinner? I really don’t want to go to the store again this week! We can’t do take-out or the drive-thru again!!!! Ahhhh! Why are they always hungry???”
I have a simple answer. Eat what you already have.
Duh! That sounds easy enough, but life gets busy. You get stuck in traffic. You have some hungry kids in your car. They start whining and you see a meltdown in your future. You are just plain tired and don’t want to have to think about making dinner.
I am starting a new category called Pantry Raid to help you out with finding some easy pull together recipes that won’t take a long time. I have a few ways to help you out with this predicament.
1. Have lots of healthy snacks! Cheese, crackers, cereal bars, pretzels, hummus or peanut butter,chips and salsa… Always carry snacks in your purse/car until you can get home to prevent another night of Chicken Nuggets. Don’t get me wrong! I have no problem with the occasional Jimmy John’s/Zaxby’s etc. run when you have soccer/gymnastics/karate class once a week or so. It gets old fast! Even if you have to eat a little later, it is better to feed your kiddos a snack than cave in to fast food and restaurants all the time. Just think of your snacks as appetizers to your meal!
2. When you go to the store, always add a few staples in your cart—Here are some of my go-tos—-
Pantry- beans, green chilies, black olives, tomato sauce, rice, pasta, bread crumbs, stock in a box,potatoes, red wine, jar pesto
Fridge- onions, carrots, celery, a couple of herbs, mushrooms, tomato paste, soy sauce, hot sauce, white wine, cheese, heavy cream, cream cheese, favorite jar of pasta sauce, tofu
Freezer- meat, homemade stock, leftover homemade sauces, frozen veggies- peas and corn are our faves
3. Sit down on the weekend before you go to the store and meal plan. Here is where I wrote more about this earlier in the year
4. Make some make ahead meals or casseroles on the weekend and have them ready for the week ahead.
5. I have read this many times before…If you can only make it until Wed, you are golden! Plan for Sun-Wed- 4 meals. This means you can have a leftover/clean out the fridge night, family night out, and date night planned in there somewhere as well. You might not be able to complete your entire meal plan, but that is OK! Look on the bright side; Now you have that meal/ingredients for another time!
Here is how I do pantry raid nights (not to be confused with panty raids)-
1. Start with your protein. I had some chicken thighs in the freezer that I defrosted overnight in the fridge. If they need a head start or not quite finished thawing, put them under cold running water. NEVER leave meat out on the counter even for a few hours.
2. See what veggies or herbs you already have that needs to be used up. I had a container of mushrooms, an onion, thyme, and some parsley in the fridge. I had some corn in the freezer.
3. What is your grain? I had a container of yellow rice in the cabinet.
Chicken and Mushrooms with Yellow Rice
I browned my meat and took it off the heat. Then I added my chopped onion, 2 cloves of grated garlic, and a container of mushrooms. I deglazed the pan with some leftover stock I had in the fridge and 2 tablespoons of butter. I added my chicken back in and cooked the yellow rice. When the rice was done, the chicken was done. My corn was a Steam fresh bag that cooks in less than 5 minutes. Add some crusty bread, and you have dinner in about 30 minutes.
For the new year, I hope you are inspired to make a few more family meals to share around the dinner table.