Day 9 – Dinner Made Easy

Planning out what you want to cook during the upcoming week is a great way to save both time and money.  Stoke up the slow cooker with several chicken breasts, and you have a big head start on dinner at least two nights this week.  Get a pot of chili started on the stovetop or a pork tenderloin in the oven and you won’t have to think about what to cook on Tuesday night when you get home late and are starving but don’t feel like cooking.  Been there, done that.

There is no temptation to go out for dinner when there is something delicious in the refrigerator just waiting to be popped into the microwave for a quick re-heat.  We live nearly 4 miles from the nearest eatery – about the same as the nearest grocery store.  It is much quicker to warm up a bowl of chili and top it with a little shredded Jack cheese, or wrap some ready-to-go shredded chicken with some salsa in tortillas for fast fajitas.  It’s cozier too, now that it’s either chilly or raining – or both – outside.

My big money-saver is not having to run to the grocery store for some ingredient to complete a meal.  I can’t go into a grocery store and only buy what I went there to get.  I always find other items that I didn’t even know I needed, and somehow they end up coming home with me.  Like ice cream, for example.  Or gluten-free chocolate-chip flax-seed muffins that cost $6 for 4 muffins and are over 300 calories each.  See, I really did not need to buy those.

Keep a few key items in your fridge or pantry, and you can put together a very quick, tasty, and even reasonably nutritious meal fast even if you did not cook it in advance.  Ready-to-heat sausages like Aidell’s are made with chicken and already cooked, so you only have to heat them through and serve.  We like them grilled in a grill-pan on top of the stove with sauerkraut.  They’re also great with a can of (drained) black beans seasoned with some salsa or diced green chilis from a can.  Enjoy some crunchy fresh raw baby carrots or some deli cole slaw alongside.

Eggs are great, too.  They cook fast, and they’re seriously versatile.  Even leftover veggies are good added to an omelette – try asparagus with a few chunked-up shrimp or smoked salmon for an elegant dinner, or spinach with a little feta or Parmesan cheese.  Slice a few black olives and mix them into your eggs with some diced green chilis, then top your creation with a little salsa and sour cream.  Eggs, pizza style?  Why not?  A couple of sliced mushrooms, black olives, and some diced bell pepper with your eggs, some shredded mozzerella in the middle, and a dollop of spaghetti sauce on top would get it done.

What do you like for a quick but nutritious meal?  Inquiring minds are always looking for new ideas so feel free to share!



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