In the year 2012, I have decided that I need to make a bigger effort at eating real meals at home. I used to be so good at this, and I’m not quite sure how or when I got off track. Sure, I would have good weeks where I would have a large bowl of Peanut Chicken Pasta Salad or a pan of turkey lentil meatloaf prepared and ready to go for an easy lunch or dinner. But, by the end of 2011, I found myself passing something like chips and salsa off as my dinner. And there are only so many times that you can getaway with doing that by using the excuse that you live by yourself.
With all that said, in 2012, I am going to try my darnedest to eat real meals with better consistency. I’m hoping to accomplish this by putting a bigger focus on prepping ingredients (like my most dreaded kitchen task – chopping vegetables) on the weekend and making large batches of food that can then be frozen for quick and easy options when I find myself not in the mood to cook on the weeknights.
So far, I’m off to a pretty good start if I do say so myself. One of the first weekends in January, I made Mini Broccoli, Tomato, and Pesto Quiches and White Chicken Chili. This time with the chili, I subbed in 0% plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream and could barely taste the difference! I love to think that with the substitution of the Greek yogurt, this chili really is a healthy option and packed with so much fiber and protein!
The mini quiches resulted in a dozen and I wrapped half of them up individually in wax paper and stored them in the freezer right away. I’ve eaten these at all times of the day by themselves, alongside a salad, and sandwiched in an English muffin with a squirt of ketchup as a makeshift egg sandwich.
I’m not a huge red meat person, but boy do I love me some chicken! Another tactic that I’ve been trying to use to help make meal time easier is to poach chicken breasts on the weekends. To poach my chicken, I bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil and drop in four chicken breasts. I reduce the heat to low-medium and let the chicken cook for about 14-16 minutes. I’ll usually cut one of the chicken breasts open just to make sure that there’s no pink left and that it’s fully cooked through. I’ll let the chicken cool a little bit so that it’s not too hot to handle, and then using two forks, I shred the meat.
I’ve also been keeping chicken breasts on hand for quick dinners like the one below. I’m proud to say that this dinner came together in under ten minutes (with the help of Trader Joe’s microwavable mushroom ravioli)!
And you know how I mentioned above that chopping veggies is one of my most dreaded kitchen tasks? Thanks to certain mischievous cat, I found myself awake one morning at a very ungodly hour, unable to go back to bed.
I decided to put my extra time to good use and grabbed my cutting board and a bunch of vegetables out of the fridge and carried everything out to the living room. With the help of an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I found that chopping veggies can be a lot less painless if done in front of the tv instead of the kitchen.
And with all the prep work done of chopping the vegetables, making a veggie stir-fry the following night was practically a breeze!
I’m hoping that I can keep this momentum up of taking the time to make real meals. I think I really just have to remember:
- Prepare ingredients ahead of time like chopping vegetables
- Make large quantities and freeze leftovers that can easily be reheated
Do you have any tips for making dinner time easier? Do you have standby meals that you turn to that you know will come together quickly? What’s your most dreaded task in the kitchen?