That said I admit that I do hate to buy completed meals, fresh or frozen. I have done the math many times and it just isn't worth it. And then there is all the lovely preservatives and additives in frozen and prepackaged meals that just make me crazy.
My go to meal, when I have no ideas for dinner is a simple stir fry. And honestly it doesn't take me much longer to make a stir fry from scratch than it does to dump it from a bag out of the freezer. I should know, I spend the first two years of my marraige using those things at least twice a week! But a simple stir fry? Easy:
1.Cook your rice. I choose to make real rice, not minute rice. But either will do. I make enough for 4 servings becuase leftover rice is awesome (seriously!) I always start the rice first because it takes about 20 minutes to cook and I can get ecerything else done while it cooks.
2. Cut up whatever leftover meat you have around and set aside. Don't have any? Cook up some new or just make a simple veggie stir fry. You need about 2-3 cups. sometimes I defrost frozen shrimp but my kids aren't fans of it so they eat fish sticks.
3. Look in your freezer and fridge and use whatever veggies you want. We usually end up with garlic, onions, peppers, carrots and broccoli. Sometimes I have other things lying around in the freezer as well like green beans. I don't buy squash or zuchinni but I bet they would be great in there as well.
4. Put your veggies in the skillet. cook on medium about 10 minutes. Add precooked meat. Add lemon juice for flavor and any additional seasonings you want.
5. Dish out rice and top with veggine mixture. Serve with a dressing or marinade that you like and enjoy.
It takes me 20 minutes from start to finish to get this meal on the table. It helps get rid of leftovers and we all like it (well my daughter doesn't like the rice but she eats the rest).
Another easy and quick meal? Pasta and meat sauce. I do use jarred sauce. I want want want to try making my own but I have not been brave enough yet. This is on my to-do list for the end of summer if I get enough of my own tomatoes this year (Jon has expressed a STRONG dislike for canned tomatos so I am trying not to use them as much).
1. Boil pasta
2. Brown ground beef or ground turkey in the skillet. Add sauce and simmer 5-10 minutes.
3. Cook a vegetable or make a salad.
4. Pour meat sauce over pasta and serve with veggies.
Again this meal is done in 20 minutes or less.
There are many easy meals out there. These are just two of my favorites and that I almost always have the ingredients on hand to make.
If you are looking to cut back, and find yourself eating prepackaged meals or take a lot then try making your own meals. Pick a couple of meals that you like and seem easy. Pick a few nights a week and start there. Don't try to go all out and cook every night if you aren't used to it. You will get overwhelmed quickly. For me it was a progression that started when I began staying home with Madeline. I started making more things because I was home. Then I started making things healthier when she started eating with us. Now I cook 5-6 nights out of 7 with one for leftovers. I also started freezing meals for nights that I don't feel like cooking.
Have a great week!