Monday, February 20, 2012

Quick, easy, and semi-healthy meals for writers on deadline!

By Julie

Having recently completed my first set of editor’s revisions on Calling Me Home, I can now officially say I’ve worked on deadline for this book. (Other than my self-imposed ones in the past, of which there were many!) During the last few weeks of edits, I barricaded in the house for days, working more hours than I care to count getting it all right.

The closer I came to deadline, the more I needed to make meals for my family that were quick, easy, and didn’t require a lot of measuring, shopping, or thinking ahead. I suppose if I were more enthusiastic about cooking, I’d prepare extra meals ahead of time and freeze them. Alas, that just isn’t me. It’s either fast … or it’s fast food, and of course, I don’t want anyone in the house eating fast food for days on end.

I thought it might be fun to share some of the meals we prepared. They’re not the healthiest meals on the planet. (I'm sure they contain preservatives and many other evil chemicals.) Neither are they the worst. We’re always trying to watch our weight and things like fat and cholesterol around here, and these mostly work for that. They’re not as inexpensive as, say, spaghetti with a ground beef sauce, but they also don’t break the bank. And … my kids are teenagers, which means they aren’t as picky as little kids might be.

Maybe you’re another mom or dad writer who needs to feed the family FAST. Would love to hear in the comments about meals you make that meet the qualifications. (Fast, easy, semi-healthy, and fairly inexpensive.) Leave links if want to!

·      Frozen Garlic Chicken
o   Costco sells a huge bag of this stuff, which is full of pasta and veggies, and it takes about 15 minutes to prepare. I add a whole cup of water as opposed to the ½ cup the bag calls for as it never seems to be enough to keep it from sticking to the skillet.
o   Serve with:
§  Open a can of peaches and a can of mandarin oranges (both about half drained), and slice a banana or two and six or seven strawberries into a bowl to make a fruit salad.
§  Optional: Pillsbury Italian or French loaf baked in oven. We often pre-slice the loaf into 10 or 12 individual rolls before baking.

·      Chicken wraps
o   Purchase pre-cooked chicken strips, pre-cut romaine lettuce, fresh tomato, parmesan cheese, Caesar or vinaigrette dressing, large tortillas or sandwich wraps. Serve buffet style. Kids enjoy making their own if they are old enough.
o   Serve with:
§  Store-bought prepared starchy side salad (macaroni or potato salad)
§  And/or kettle or Sun chips.

·      La Madeleine Tomato Basil Soup from Costco
o   Costco (yay, Costco!) sells a refrigerated two-pack of this delicious soup for around eight bucks, and it’s enough to feed at least five hungry mouths. (The package says eight servings, I think.) Dump it in a saucepan and heat it up in about ten minutes. Or microwave it. You can garnish with store-bought croutons and parmesan cheese.
o   Serve with:
§  A loaf of sliced French bread heated in oven, or even grilled cheese sandwiches.
§  Self-serve green salad fixings.

·      Brown sugar ham in crockpot with pineapple
o   Buy a fully cooked sliced ham (1.5 to 2 pounds or so, and I’ve read that a non-smoked one works better and doesn’t dry out as much). Use about 2 cups of brown sugar total, some on bottom of crockpot, some rubbed over top of ham. Dump a can of chunk pineapple with most of the juice drained around the edges. Cook on high for an hour or so, then low for another hour or so. Serve with a little of the juices that have formed from the ham.
o   Serve with:
§  Steam-fresh veggies prepared in the microwave (Green beans? Peas? Broccoli?). Stir in a small amount of butter or margarine after heating for flavor if desired.
§  A package of baked refrigerator biscuits with jam or jelly.

·      Chicken Tortilla Soup from Costco
o   Another Costco soup, also about eight bucks for double pack. We add several cans of extra ingredients as it’s not very hearty:
§  black, kidney, or pinto beans
§  corn
§  diced tomatoes
§  Plus extra seasoning (chili powder, garlic salt, etc.) to taste because we like things spicy.
o   Serve with:
§  Package of self-serve, self-heat tortillas or tortilla chips
§  Self-serve garnishes (cheese, sour cream, etc.)
§  A can of sliced pears or other fruit.

·      Chicken topped salad. (When you resort to chicken nuggets, you know you’re almost there.)
o   Prepare frozen chicken strips or nuggets, breaded or grilled, in whatever number of servings the bag calls for.
o   OR … have your spouse or teenager buy a precooked rotisserie chicken on the way home.
o   Use to top self-serve salad ingredients:
§  Dark leaf lettuce (spinach or spring mix).
§  Sliced strawberries, apples, or canned mandarin oranges.
§  Crumbled feta or other cheese.
§  Candied or honey-roasted pecans.
§  Dried cranberries, or other garnishes.
§  Balsamic vinaigrette or other dressings.

Yes, there’s a lot of chicken here. That means you don’t feel guilty when you order that big, juicy steak on the weekend to celebrate meeting your deadline.

And now you tell me what I can feed my family next time I’m on deadline in the comments, please!

(photo credit: kh1234567890's Flickr photostream, used by Creative Commons license)


  1. I do the chicken wraps and tomato soup too, Julie! Or Boboli crust veggie pizza. Yum!

  2. I gotta give you my chicken tortilla soup recipe again. You just open a bunch of cans, throw in some chicken (rotisserie is best but canned is okay in a pinch) and heat it up. Cheap and yummy and very hearty. All this other stuff sounds delicious. And now I'm hungry.

  3. Roasted chicken from Costco is delicious --hot or cold--served with a mix of roasted veggies. Yum! (Freeze the chicken carcass/bones for making soup stock revisions.) :)

  4. Costco Ryan31 May, 2012

    As a Costco employee, I love seeing someone extolling our virtues! The food we sell is awesome!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...