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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Frugal Fast Food Meals

I've been incredibly busy and stressed out lately with absolutely zero energy. No exaggeration there. Though I usually love cooking, lately just the thought of preparing food for my family is just another chore with which I don't want to be bothered. (Is it any surprise that I feel the need to quit one of my current jobs?)
In all honesty, if I even had a local takeout place, I would be sorely tempted to be their number one customer at this point in my life, even though takeout prices would drive me to the poorhouse. Instead, what I've been doing lately is relying on a lot of homemade frugal "fast food meals" that can be prepared with minimal effort and minimal time. Some take some advanced preparation but can be frozen in parts and mixed together as necessary. Here's but some ideas.

Frugal "Fast Food" Meals



Breakfast
Waffles. Made in advance in a waffle iron and frozen. To eat, simply pop in the toaster or microwave while still frozen.
Pancakes. Made in advance and frozen.
Raw rolled oats with milk. This can be served with a sweetener or homemade chocolate syrup or cut up fruit as a cold cereal replacement.
Raw steel cut oats with boiling water. No cook porridge. Serve with some sugar and cinnamon and milk.
Milk shakes.
Eggnog.
Toast and scrambled eggs. If you have no energy to bake your own bread, buy a loaf of sliced bread and keep it in the freezer. Defrost slices as necessary.

Main Meals.
Mix and match, taking a protein, starch, and vegetable and perhaps a little sauce like salad dressing or mayonnaise (made in advance, of course) to tie it all together.

Proteins:
  • Canned black beans or chickpeas.
  • Canned baked beans.
  • Canned sardines.
  • Canned tuna.
  • Beans cooked in a crock pot in large batches and frozen in smaller portions. 
  • Cheese.
  • Chicken gizzards, cooked in large batches and and frozen in smaller portions.
  • TVP flakes. Not so healthy, in my opinion, but still probably healthier than what you'd be getting in a fast food restaurant. Add boiling water and you're set.
  • Homemade jerky, either fish, chicken, or meat.
Starches:
  • Instant couscous
  • Instant rice noodles
  • Potato flakes
  • Instant rice. 
  • Frozen rice. Made in large batches and stored in serving sizes.
  • Potato flakes 
  • Frozen sliced bread. 
  • Frozen pita bread.
Vegetables:
  • Frozen green beans
  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen corn
  • Frozen carrots
  • Frozen broccoli
  • Frozen cauliflower
  • Frozen spinach
  • Canned green beans
  • Canned corn
  • Canned beets
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Fresh salad vegetables
Mix and match any of the above, heat, and serve. You can have dinner ready for your family in 3 minutes flat!

Meal suggestions:
  • Tuna melt- pita with tuna and cheese melted inside along with some fresh tomato.
  • Pita pizza. Pita with ketchup or canned tomato sauce, with melted cheese. Add frozen vegetables to complete the meal or cut up some salad vegetables.
  • Noodles with tuna, mayo, ketchup, and veggies.
  • Mashed potatoes with beans, veggies, and spices (or ketchup).
  • Etc...
What do you eat when you have no energy to cook? How frequently do you buy takeout? How much do you spend monthly on fast food?

1 comment:

  1. I think we eat out 4 times a year and its when we make a 10 hour drive to see family. It's more in the colder months to stretch our legs from being in the car. I have a chest freezer and I every 3 months, I prep either whole meals or major components ( cook dried beans and portion into meal size bags) and place in freezer. Most of the time, I will use that as our meal or basis of and then add side dishes the day of.

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