Real Foods: Last minute meals

I don’t know about you, but when I don’t get home until around 4:30 or 5:00 after a long day with kids, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking. Usually I love to cook, but I don’t like to be rushed and there are those days when I just don’t feel it. I’ve been trying to compile a list of healthy meals for those days when time is short and appetites are growing and a list of ingredients that I must have in my house at all times just so I can whip up an “emergency meal”. Here are a few ideas I’ve been using…

Burritos: I have to admit that this is my #1 go-to meal. It’s healthy, quick and easy. And those days that I don’t feel like making the tortillas, I can just serve beans over rice/barley, or make cilantro lime rice and eat it as a meal. I usually keep a can of refried beans on hand just in case, but with my new pressure cooker it only takes 20 minutes to cook up a batch of beans and another 6 minutes to cook rice. I usually season with some s&p, cumin, garlic and chili powder (onions if I’m going to re-fry them, here’s a black refried bean recipe). Serve with green onions, tomatoes and avocado.

Pasta: A simple whole wheat spaghetti with tomato sauce and cheese makes a quick and delicious meal. Or a vegetable rotini is also easy, add a bunch of chopped veggies to the sauce, stir in cooked spiral noodles, top the pan with cheese and cover until melted.

Quick Salads: A garden salad topped with raisins and nuts is always an easy meal. My favorite quick salad though is Black Bean Salad (Cowboy Caviar). I make this all the time in the summer. It is so yummy and fresh, requires no heating of an oven or stove  and can be done in about 15 minutes (I usually cook my black beans in advance, but even if I forget, they can be pressure cooked in 20 minutes while I chop the veggies). Another favorite is garden pasta salad. It only takes a few minutes and I love how it tastes with cold vegetables and warm noodles. Another great summertime dish.

Breakfast: I love breakfast for dinner! Whip up a batch of waffles, pancakes or eggs, bacon and potatoes and you will have happy children any day of the week.

Soup: You might think that soup requires a lot of time, but I have a few soup recipes that are really simple, as long as you have some homemade chicken stock and avocados on hand. Cuban Black Bean Soup might not look very appetizing, but trust me, it is delicious. Black Bean Veggie Chili is also very simple- just add whatever veggies you have on hand and heat it up. And, my other favorite, Chicken Tortilla Soup. I’ve even made it without the chicken before (not on purpose- just slipped my mind) and it still tastes great. Of course, if you have homemade chicken stock on hand- Chicken Noodle Soup is probably your easiest and quickest soup. Simply chop up some carrots, celery and other veggies and stir in some pre-cooked noodles.

Stir Fry: I try to keep a bag of frozen pre-chopped veggies in the freezer for emergencies. Perfect for whipping up a stir fry. Cook the rice/barley and saute the veggies and you have quick, healthy meal.

Roasted vegetables: This is a super easy meal, just chop a bunch of your favorite veggies (potatoes, carrots, green beans, asparagus, finely chopped onions, etc…) toss with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and favorite spices, then bake in a 425 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are browned and crunchy. My favorites are Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts, Sweet Buttered Carrots and Roasted Potatoes.

And here is my “must have on hand at all times” list:
  • Chicken broth (I try to freeze leftovers so I will always have some on hand)
  • Chicken (I always have a can or two of shredded chicken just in case)
  • Lemons & limes
  • Avocado
  • Tomatoes (keep a few cans of diced tomatoes for emergencies)
  • Cilantro
  • Carrots
  • Black beans (I always keep a can or two for emergencies)
  • Frozen veggies
  • Eggs
  • Onions (and I re-grow my green onions so I always have them on hand)
  • Potatoes
What are your favorite go-to meals?

4 thoughts on “Real Foods: Last minute meals”

  1. Spaghetti is my go to meal when I'm short on time and ideas. It's fast, easy, and I always have the ingredients on hand.

    I liked your ideas. I don't make my own chicken stock though. I really should. I've done it before but I'm lazy. We just buy it.

  2. Betty,

    It's super easy. Just stick the bottom part of the green onions in a glass of water and put in a sunny place. They grow super fast! They get slimy after a while so I finally put mine in a small pot of soil. I love grilled cheese too!

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