Foodie Friday: Frugal, Fast-Fix Comfort Food

It’s a thing for me every week–too much to do, not enough time to do it and then, boom! It’s time to pick up the kids from school, homework, dinner, activities … and I forgot to make something for dinner. Again.

We can have breakfast for dinner (read: cereal) or sandwiches (which they love, if I get some nice hoagie rolls), but I prefer to cook as often as I can. I’ve come up with a few fast-fix ideas that can be made quickly, with few ingredients, and will satisfy the whole family.

Here’s a few I’ve tried–I didn’t include measurements because these are all pretty adaptable to how much you need.

Meal #1:

Chicken breasts
+ Bottled Asian Sesame Salad Dressing
+ Bagged Broccoli Slaw
+ Spaghetti Noodles
Easy Lo Mein that my kids love

  1. Cut chicken into bite-size chunks.
  2. Marinate in a freezer bag with dressing for as long as you have up to a few hours
  3. Cook noodles to al dente and set aside.
  4. Saute chicken in a pan until done and sauce is reduced (drain most of the marinade, but quite a bit remained).
  5. Add slaw and cooked noodles to chicken and stir to combine.

I also added leftover snap peas, garden peppers & onion, which I found and prepared while the chicken cooked. I usually concoct my own sauce using soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar with a few other additions, but this dressing worked great in a pinch. In total, it took about 30 minutes. I’m considering buying chicken breasts in bulk and chopping them up to freeze in various marinades.

Meal #2:

Ground beef (or turkey or whatever)
+ Some onion & some celery
+ macaroni noodles
+ can of tomato soup
Homemade “I don’t know why they call it helper when it tastes just fine on its own, Clark.”

  1. Brown the beef (or turkey or whatever ground meat you choose to use) while you cook the macaroni noodles.
  2. Combine all ingredients.

This is a family-favorite dating back 40+ years (maybe more? All I know is it’s as old as I am), and my mom called it goulash. My sister called it cowboy food. I call it comfort on all levels. When I was first moved away from home and married, I called home for the recipe because I was craving the comfort of the taste of it. I was shocked when my mom told me how easy this recipe was–shocked that I hadn’t figured it out already and that something so beloved could be recreated so easily.

I’ve made it differently over the years, adding in more veggies and swapping in low-carb macaroni noodles, but this is basically an easy meal that you could find in a box or make on your own and know every ingredient that you put in the pan. My dad liked it with chopped tomatoes instead of soup (I am not a fan of that change), and this must be made with Lawry’s seasoned salt for the proper balance of flavors.

Meal #3:

Bulk pork sausage (like Blue & Gold)
+ sliced tomatoes
+ biscuits
+ fruit
Better than breakfast for dinner

  1. Cook your pork sausage by slicing it or forming it into patties (or, if you must, buy the pre-made patties) and pan frying (preferably in a cast-iron skillet) until done.
  2. Cook biscuits according to package directions or make homemade and give some to me.
  3. Make sandwiches out of the biscuits, sausage patties and sliced tomatoes and transport your tastebuds to heaven. Serve with a nice fresh fruit salad for balance.

I am not from the south, but I have visited there. My husband’s people come from the south, and this is one of the greatest blessings they have bestowed upon me. Okay, fine, aside from my husband, of course. If you’re so inclined, you can save the drippings from the sausage and stir in some milk and flour, lots of fresh pepper and a handful of the sausage you just cooked (chop it up first) and make you a nice sausage gravy. This is perfect for everything from heartaches to hangovers.

 

All of these recipes are favorites at my house because they taste good, they’re fast and easy to make. What’s your favorite weeknight meal to whip up from scratch?

B+W head shotMari Farthing is co-administrator of Oklahoma Women Bloggers. She writes, edits, runs, chases her kids, binge-watches Gilmore Girls and tries to get a hot meal on the table every night while avoiding doing other chores. Visit her at Mari, Quite Contrary.

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