I would have a freezer full of frozen convenience meals if I could get around three things:
- insane amount of salt/fat/calories
- stuff I can’t pronounce—nor their purpose
While at the store today, I really took notice of the many varieties of quick meals. Looking down one long foggy-door lined row, I saw hundreds of different things. But, they all had a few key ingredients in common: a meat, a pasta/starch, vegetables, and seasoning/sauce. I got to thinking about how much time it would take to re-create these using real food. I have some favorites that I’ve used in the past when in a hurry and that’s usually the only reason I used them. I could throw the bag of stuff in the pan and have it ready in 15-20 minutes. Could I do the same using my own food?
I decided to go with a simple chicken/pasta/vegetable dish. I started the timer and completed the following steps:
- started a pot of water for the pasta. After 5 minutes, it was boiling and I poured in 2 cups of the most dense pasta I had and let it boil until done. If I used angel hair, I put it in and turn off the heat, put on a lid, and it’s done in 5 minutes.
- threw cut up chicken breast tenders, carrots (I buy the already cut kind for stuff like this), onions in a pan to cook
- After 12 minutes, the chicken and vegetables were done. I added the pasta.
- add 1 cup of chopped fresh spinach
- I poured in 1/4 cup of evaporated skim milk and fresh grated parm, salt and pepper
- Total time: 21 minutes including finding pans, prep, and plating my serving.
I had enough for lunch the next day and it was far better tasting than the Lean Cuisine.
I could do the same thing with Asian meals with chicken or beef strips and some Newman’s Own dressings (they do NOT have high fructose corn syrup and work great when rushed for time). I could make any Italian dish that required pasta, meat, vegetables, and fat free ricotta. The choices are endless.
Will I ever buy a Stouffers Lasagna again? Of course. Will I hide behind the “time” excuse as often as previous years? I can’t. In 22 minutes, I slashed fat, salt, calories, and increased the vegetable servings. I do believe this is change I can believe in 😉