It is 6:30pm on a Tuesday evening. I am still stuck in rush hour traffic and I have no idea what I will cook for dinner. If I am lucky, my husband has already completed dinner. The chances of that, however, are very faint. Thus, I will need to cook the meal as soon as I get in. With only about 30 minutes to spare, I must be ready to cook, cook, cook and fast. How can I ensure that I have quick, easy and healthy meals? One good answer is to prepare contents early and have a good idea of meal types.
Meal 1: Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
Spaghetti and meat sauce can take anywhere from 15 until 30 minutes to prepare. The most important step is to thaw and/or cook hamburger meat for the meat sauce. Depending on the thawing method, this step takes about 5 minutes. Next, you can whip up a great sauce from scratch or from a jar. My personal favorite is to use a jarred sauce as a base, and incorporate one’s own flavoring to the sauce. For example, Newman’s Own Marina sauce is an excellent base for a sauce creation. Simply cut celery, use fresh oregano, garlic and rosemary, to season, add meat and viola! The sauce is complete. All of this took 15 to 20 minutes. While you marinate the sauce, boil the pasta and maybe steam some fresh broccoli. Just think, 20 minutes ago, meal time was still a question mark. Now, it is a reality.
Meal 2: Sautéed Chicken breast, Asparagus and brown rice
Sounds good doesn’t it? Well, it is and you can cook all of this- except the rice- in the same pot. Basically, add water, about four tablespoons of Chicken broth, onion, garlic and parsley to one large skillet. Allow thawed chicken to boil on medium-high. It is important to use and split, boneless, skinless breast. This way, the meat will cook evenly–through and through–and the meat will be juicy. Allow chicken to broil for about 35 minutes, then place asparagus stalks into the mixture. Broil together for about 10 minutes more. During this 15 minutes, boil brown rice in a separate pot. Drain and rinse rice. Now, in 45 minutes, you can enjoy a deliciously healthy meal in under and hour.
Meal 3: Baked fish, macaroni and cheese and corn on the cob
I love the way that seafood is easy and delicious. The type of fish you use will cause the cooking time to vary. I recommend using catfish or tilapia. These two kinds of fish are easy to cook and take generally less time than any other type of fish (45 minutes). The first step is to preheat the oven to about 400 degrees. I like the bottom of my fish more crisp then anything else. Therefore, when I am seasoning my fish–usually with lemon pepper or citrus grill seasonings–I also place breading mix on the bottom of the fish. While I place the fish in the oven, I boil the macaroni (Velveeta works nicely!). The macaroni takes about 18 minutes to complete. When the fish has 15 minutes of cook time remaining, I boil the corn on the cob.
Do the math? How long did this meal take? Only 45 minutes. Three meals, healthy, all under 1 hour of cook time. Children of teachers have yummy meals and more time with their parents. Who could ask for more? So the next time you teacher moms are running low on time, take a step back and cook a healthy and easy meal!