Do you (or did you, at a very busy point in your life) have recipes you return to when you’re short on time but want something homecooked? Not talking haute cuisine, but rather how you really eat when you don’t have a lot of time for food prep but want to avoid takeout. Are there “shortcut” ingredients or techniques you turn to to shorten cook time or streamline ingredient lists? Old favorites that everyone loves that give you a lot of proverbial “bang” (deliciousness) for your “buck” (whether money or time)?
As a toddler parent who loves to cook but has a lot of competing demands, I’m asking for your go-to weeknight recipes, family favorites, and the dishes you make when you are short on time, energy, and maybe inspiration. Give me your old reliable or “more than the sum of their parts” recipes and meal ideas! Ingredient lists or recipe links are great, too.
Open faced sandwich, hot or cold. Or, Something that I can run thru a toaster oven purchased at TJs. . And, the whole idea behind container foods (prep’d food ready to roll) is the luxury of pulling out fixins from frig or freezer.
And when all else fails, I make a meal from good bread, cheese, sliced meats, jarred pickled veg and a cold drink.
Rather than a recipe, unless its straight up leftovers, quick around here is not recipe driven.
Mixing and matching prepared food and home cooking works for us. My get-out-of-jail-free card is that I’ll buy a prepared main, such as a container of prepared meatballs, so that I can focus on prepping and cooking fresh vegetables and/or salad on weeknights. So using the meatball example we’d get a pizza, a protein + veg meal, and a pasta meal out of the same purchase by adding lots of vegetables.
The reason is that in summer we buy a Farm (CSA) share that keeps the fridge loaded with fresh veggies that demand attention. Great topic, @ChristinaM!
Frittata, stir fry, taco bowls. I have also been keeping frozen Bubba Burgers on hand lately for nights when I forget to thaw meat - they cook from frozen in about 5 mins, just enough time to make a side salad.
Crockpot pork chili verde (boneless country-style ribs in Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde and Hatch Chili Verde - or skip the Hatch chili one if you want it mild) – I make a big batch and freeze it in portions – makes great tacos or a Mexi bowl along the lines of your Cuban one but with pinto beans, lime crema (sour cream + lime juice), tomatoes and radishes over rice, pickled red onions if I have some.
Hotpot as suggested by Harters on a very long-ago WFD: couple cans of white beans (drained) in a casserole mixed with some strained tomatoes (I use the tomato sauce that comes in 8 oz cans), harissa and both whole grain and Dijon mustard, top with Italian sausages (hot or sweet, your preference) drizzled with a bit of olive oil and into the oven at anywhere from 375 to 425 till the sausages are cooked through, about 25 minutes depending on how big they are. A salad with it is nice but not necessary if you need that time to do laundry instead.
If you have an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, Kenji’s Colombian Chicken on Serious Eats could not be easier or yummier – it is WAY more than the sum of its parts. I use thighs and an extra potato. ETA: also use a box of Pomi diced tomatoes instead of fresh. And you need to count on 20+ minutes for the IP or PC to come up to pressure.
Ginger scallion lo mein (with some oyster and/or chili sauce. This is not with the thicker noodles often found in American Chinese Lo Mein, but the finer egg noodles that is more common in HK.
Spam fried rice! Lite or turkey spam now a days.
Japanese “hamburg” - OK, these aren’t really quick, but when I make them, I make a big batch and freeze them. Excellent for just grabbing out of the freezer and cooking for dinner when there is no time.
I always make rice for the next few days so cooked rice is almost always in my fridge.
Lemon thyme roasted chicken thighs
Pan seared salmon with ochazuke. The ochazuke is just rice again, with some is the seasoned “tea” packs that you can get at the markets.
For greens, I eat a ton of Chinese leafy greens, so it’s easy to stir fry or blanche and serve with oyster sauce.
When it’s cool enough to use the oven I really loved this sheet pan meal with kale and coconut- although i just use the entire bunch of kale and leave out the siracha
There’s also the one pot kale and quinoa that’s a good stovetop hands off thing, use whatever sturdy greens. I swap in olives or capers instead of the cheese and just use whatever nuts i have on hand
As you can tell from WFD i’ll make about anything into a (potentially weird) salad, but something like a greek salad with purchased dolmas and good feta is easy.
salad nicoise is a good one, especially if you have the hard boiled eggs done ahead of time and use small potatoes that cook quickly