Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Quick (and inexpensive) meal ideas when mama (or dad) isn't up to cooking

I had my an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon yesterday morning to discuss having my surgery next Monday.  Of course, we didn't just see the surgeon, but another doctor, a PA, and (my absolute favorite) a financial counselor to get my Medi-cal figured out.  Nothing ends a perfect morning of poking and prodding and sickening discussions of pins and plates like spending an hour beating your head again the state's bureaucracy.  And they wonder why our state is sinking... Oy!

Anyway. back to what I wanted to talk about  - quick and easy paleo meals for when mom or dad are not quite up to cooking dinner.  Last night was a prime example for me - I was exhausted after an all morning trek to the doctor's and then spending the afternoon on the phone, my leg was swollen and complaining, and all I wanted to do was lay down...but that was not a choice!  The kids were begging for food and they weren't going to take "wait an hour" as an answer.

What's a mama to do?

Be inventive, of course!

First of all, it's best to have already-prepared stuff in the freezer for such emergencies.  That's one of the reasons why I pre-cook all of my chicken - easy meal time!  Toss the bag into a pan with some butter, salt, and pepper, and we're good to go!  This chicken can also be the protein for a nice green salad if you have the ingredients OR you can add some homemade olive oil mayo or salad dressing and slather the chicken mixture onto stalks of celery.  There's ALWAYS an option .... you just have to be open to the possibilities!

You might also want to check on "ready to eat" options that are available to you in regular and ethnic stores.  While wandering through my local Indian store, I discovered something cool - all natural, ready to eat pouches of Indian sauces.  It's pretty much spices and liquid (no preservatives, chemicals, or MSG) - perfect to sauce up that already-cooked chicken in seconds.  You just snip off the end, pour into a pan, add protein, and reheat.  Though Indian food is usually eaten with lots of rice, I pour mine over steamed broccoli - yum!!! I've seen similar packets in the ethnic aisles of the regular grocery store all priced around $1 - 2 a packet.

Of course, there's always eggs - yummy, delish, and cheap eggs.  Scrambled, fried, poached, - they're all good and super easy to fix.  Add in some veggies and fruit and that's the perfect meal for anyone in your house.  And let's not forget the perfect snack - hard boiled eggs.  I always have a few hard boiled eggs sitting in the fridge, ready to eat.

And then there's the option I did last night which was to make snack trays.  I peeled and cut up a hard boiled egg for each of the kids, added fruit, sliced carrots, celery, and cucumbers, a stick of string cheese, and a cookie for each of them and called it dinner.  Then I crawled back into bed, put my foot up, and ignored the world.

The good news is that my days of being alone with the kids are limited.  They go to their dad's for the weekend on Friday, and then my sister will be up here Saturday to get me through the surgery and take care of us through the first couple of weeks post-op.  And after that, mom will be up here to make sure the kids don't set the house on fire while I stay off of my feet.  Doc says I'll be off my feet for at least 8 weeks after surgery.  Won't this be fun?  HA!

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