Monday, July 7, 2008

5 quick and simple meals

I'm amazed when I read the percentage of the food money spent in restaurants or takeout places these days. I recently heard that 40% of the money Americans spend on food is spent on such prepared food. Of course the reason is convenience - with most families having two (or one) working parents, the idea of cooking at home after working all day and then driving the kids hither and yon is more than many people, apparently, can handle. But this factoid is amazing to me, because it's so much more expensive to eat this way! And also it's a pretty good ground rule, in my opinion, that any prepared food you buy is likely to be less healthful than what you could produce at home.

So I, your full service simplicity/frugality blogger, will today give you five (count 'em) simple, healthful meals that can be made quickly and with ingredients you can find in your own home. None of these take more than about 30 minutes, and they are at least reasonably balanced. So try them out, and eat at home tonight.

- Broccoli steamed, and then fried in a little garlic butter, served over noodles. Throw in a couple of cubes of tofu if you want some more protein. This was such a staple in my younger days that I gave it it's own name: Bachelors special.

- Kashe varnishkes. This is the Jewish version of rice and beans. "Buckwheat groats" - a word that has no meaning out of this context, like translating tefillin as "phylacteries" - toasted and then simmered in a little broth, served over noodles, preferably bowties. The kashe has more protein than you'd think. Side salad.

- Quick pilaf - fry an onion, add some rice, some tuna or tofu, enough water to cook the rice, a cup of frozen veg and salt. Cook for 15 minutes.

These two take a little longer, because one of the ingredients has to be cooked already - do the pre-cooking in advance, like when you're blogging or watching TV:

- Lentil cheese loaf - cooked lentils, cheese, breadcrumbs, various herbs and an egg. Bake at 350 until cooked through, about 40 minutes. Side salad.

- "Abba mac'n'cheese" - this is with red sauce instead of milk - noodles, red sauce, shredded cheese on top, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder, breadcrumbs on top, cook until cooked through, 30 minutes or so. Side salad.

And if you really want to make the experience complete - eat together, as a family!


suzysr said...

sounds great - so what is for dinner tonite??

Mary T said...

The meals are interesting! What do you mean by 'red sauce'? Don't mean to sound ignorant--I just know of several red sauces. :)

rebmoti said...

Just a simple tomato sauce - can of crushed tomatoes (although a gardener like you probably would never use _canned_!), can of tomato paste, some spices, garlic, simmered 20 minutes.

Mary T said...

well you know... there's canned and there's 'home canned'. ;) Sounds yummy!

suefendrick said...

> But this factoid is amazing to me, because it's so much more expensive to eat this way!

As may have occurred to you, those of us who do take out or eat out sometimes do *not* do it b/c we think we're saving money :-). We do it b/c we are stressed, b/c we feel like we and/or our kids need the treat, b/c we are taking 5 million kids in 5 million different directions on a given night and this is easier, b/c we haven't had a chance to go shopping and haven't gotten organized...

>And also it's a pretty good ground rule, in my opinion, that any prepared food you buy is likely to be less healthful than what you could produce at home.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. At least if we get a pizza, my middlest kiddle gets some vegetable (tomato--I know, I know, it's fruit) in her. Otherwise, if we have our other go-to easier-than-easy pasta (there is no point making it with either tofu or broccoli in it, b/c many of our resident consumers will just remove those), she will just have it with soy sauce rather than the tomato sauce, garlicky veggies, etc. that are offered.

suefendrick said...

BTW, just a follow-up--of course you're right that it costs more money to eat out, and that the food is sometimes crap. But when we do it, we're often making trade-offs--maybe there are better trade-offs to be made, but it's not as if, if only the cost became visible, we'd all go "Wow, I could had a V-8" and go home and cook.

Having said that, there is no question that my own family should grab less food on the run or out and cook more. Thanks for the recipes!

Mary T said...

I think--for us/me--when my kids were all in a certain age range and I felt like I sort of lived in my car-- we did eat out more than we do now. I think it was because I did succumb to stress and also to just plain not knowing how to deal with it all in a disciplined way--and how to get everyone else to cooperate. Sometimes that stress has to do with that--family not going along with the menu plan. Sometimes its just lack of 'know how' about cooking. I think rebmoti's recipes are great. I have learned to collect and try a huge variety of recipes--every thing I cook teaches me new things and helps me build a repertoire of meals I can put together quick. We don't eat out near as much as we used to these days. Thanks Rebmoti for your great little recipes, every little bit helps I think. :)