Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I wish I could be one of those bloggers who has a garden in her backyard and everything she cooks is homegrown and whole.  That would be pretty awesome.

But that is not our reality.

It might also be fun to be a blogger who after every weekend shares a new independent restaurant or two she dined in, posting pictures of delicious and unique (and costly) fare.

But that is not our reality either.

Here is our reality.

We are a mostly cook at home, eat at home family.  The majority of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks come right of our kitchen.  I know because I make them - and because I do the never ending stream of dishes! 

Eating out at restaurants is very rare.  Also rare are fast food runs (though we sometimes order pizza and you can bet we eat Chick-Fil-A every time we make a day trip to the beach!). I try to provide balanced meals and snacks on a budget to a family of four people, three of whom who have varying degrees of pickiness.  Ahem.  :)

I often have to do this in a hurry, though.  There are seasons that are extra busy and that is when it can get really tricky.  So I have definitely learned to take shortcuts to keep us eating at home.  I thought I'd share some of those shortcuts with you!

Take last Sunday afternoon, for instance.  I admit I didn't have a plan for a meal or the money to go out to lunch.  So after church, I ran into Publix hoping for some quick inspiration!  First stop, produce section.  Asparagus and lemon were on display, bagged spinach leaves were buy one, get one, and I picked up a bag of potatoes.  On the other side of the store I saw that they had rotisserie chickens on sale.  So there was a quick meal - when we got home I quickly chopped and boiled the potatoes to mash, sauteed the asparagus, and warmed the chicken in the oven to serve plain or on a spinach salad.  We had a filling lunch in about half an hour.  If I had to cook the chicken it would have taken much longer.

Another shortcut I use, even though it can be slightly more costly, is prepped and washed fruit.  We are crazy for these apple slices around here!  Trevor in particular will gobble them up which is great since he is my pickier child.  They come in handy at lunch time, or with peanut butter as a snack, or right out of the bag when we are at Disney or other outings since I always pack our lunches.

This if for me, myself, and I since I can't seem to convince anyone else in my family to eat grapefruit. But I love it and boy is this easier and less messy than cutting up grapefruit, especially for a busy mom.

When the individual packets are on sale, I will pick some of these up too.  Fresh and fast!

Another shortcut snack I go to is almonds.  I often buy the large bags of plain almonds, but my mom knows I love these Wasabi and Soy almonds that have a serious kick, and she bought me some the other day when she saw them buy one, get one.  (Ice cold bottled Coca-Cola is optional, but definitely a good paring on a hot summer day!  Don't worry - my main beverage is water.  These are just my occasional and very much enjoyed treats!)

Another shortcut I use is this squeeze from the tube, reduced sugar jelly.  I never thought I would use such a thing!  But somewhere along the way, probably as I was making my 987th peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I thought I would give this a try and never looked back.  It saves a little time, a lot of stickiness, and has half the sugar of the regular Welch's jelly.  Probably costs a few more cents, but worth it to me.

I love to bake, as you know, and always enjoy trying new recipes.  But sometimes I go to muffin mixes for a shortcut, and the Fiber One Blueberry Mix is absolutely one of our family favorites!  The house smells amazing when they are baking and come out of the oven.  These don't last long in our house, and are a quick and easy breakfast.

I would like to give whoever invented steam-in-the bag vegetables a hug!!  This is another shortcut I use all the time, and is worth a little extra money to me.  No pot to clean and delicious, perfectly steamed veggies in a few minutes!  My very favorite is the broccoli florets.  Though I still can't convince my kids to eat broccoli (I continue to make valiant efforts), Jimmy and I eat these all the time. We also like the mini corn on the cob, regular corn, peas, and have even made the rice a time or two.

And speaking of frozen foods, every now and then I will trust the Gorton's fisherman for dinner.  This is what I call a "Better Than McDonald's" meal.  If we are in a super hurry, I'd rather throw in some fish sticks, tots, and sweet potato fries than make a fast food run.  Fruit, canned green beans, or applesauce make for convenient side dishes. It's not fancy, or grown in my backyard, but it works.

Another shortcut meal I make now and then are sandwiches using Hormel Italian Beef.  Jimmy and I both love Italian Beef sandwiches and though these aren't as good as homemade or getting one from Portillo's in Chicago, they are actually pretty tasty. All you have to do is microwave the meat for four minutes.  I then put the meat on French hamburger buns with some of the au jus and provolone cheese, and put them in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes.  The buns get crispy, the cheese melts, and my husband is super happy!!  One package makes 6 sandwiches and is around $5 at Walmart or when it goes on sale at Publix.

I made these for dinner Saturday night.

I made a quick corn casserole, then also added steam in bag broccoli and canned green beans on the side.

Not only do I rely on these types of shortcuts, but also simple recipes like these that I have shared here before...

Popover Pizza

And there are always good old standbys like spaghetti, tacos, and breakfast for dinner.

We are not always fancy.  I don't always have the budget or time to cook everything I would like to.  But we eat at home, as a family, even when we are busy.

I hope some of these shortcuts and ideas will help you do so too!

1 comment:

  1. I love how you keep it real! I understand how you have to have some quick, trusty meal ideas on hand! I "fancy up" frozen pizza almost every week, and I love rotisserie chicken for several different recipes!! Good ideas all the way around.:) Thanks for sharing.