First of all, this is is not going to be a list of the healthiest meals I cook. Ever since I have the little guy with me all days long, sometimes there just isn’t time for elaborate cooking. For those cases I need to have few easy options available, that don’t take much time.
Just for reference, I make these meals for lunch when it’s just me and the baby and then I usually have something with better nutritional value for dinner. So here comes my survival mode meals list:
This one’s pretty obvious - what can be easier than putting together some pasta with sauce. I don’t make my sauce from scratch yet, so I always have some store bought pasta sauce in the pantry for emergencies:) I prefer simple tomato & basil sauce over spaghetti, but there are so many options here that you can pick one for each day of the week.
Oh, wait, I just realized that I do make one sauce from scratch - or almost from scratch, since it’s made from store bought frozen spinach puree, if that doesn’t count. It’s still pretty easy, just the spinach, garlic, some spices and heavy cream. I’ll make sure to get you the exact recipe some time soon.
2. sweet dumplings
This one’s going to be difficult if not impossible to get in the US. These sweet dumplings I mean are pre-made frozen meal I get from the frozen section at the grocery store. You just cook them in boiling water for 10 minutes, then coat them with sweet cocoa or cinnamon with sugar and eat. Super easy.
In the US you might be able to get the asian alternative but the filling’s probably going to be some vegetables or meat, I guess, definitely not sweet farmers cheese with blueberries nor plums (which are my two most favorite fillings)
3. chicken noodle soup (from scratch)
Did you know how simple it is to make real chicken soup? I know many people think it's super difficult and the only way to have it is to buy chicken broth in a box. Well, let me correct you. All you need is chicken (any part of it for that matter, you can use bones, or keep some meat on them if you prefer meat in your soup). You just put the chicken in a big pot and cook it in water. Little later I add carrots, parsnip, onion, cilantro, basically any vegetables I feel like having in the soup.
The time saving thing is that you don't need to cook it - it cooks itself. The only prep I do is cutting carrots into small pieces, but even that is optional since it's so easy to cut them when they're cooked and so soft. Other than that, I just put everything together in one pot at I LET it cook. That's it. Yes, it takes some time to be done, but you can do anything else during that time and come back later to a nicely smelling homemade chicken soup. Now you just cook noodles in boiling water and voila, your super easy lunch is ready.
4. chicken with veggies and (mashed) potatoes
Ok, this one's little more elaborate. You need to cut the chicken (but you bought the easiest part to cut, right? No time for prepping chicken tights:), it is optional to roast it over diced onions, so I usually just roast it on oil, salt and season it and cover with water. Chicken doesn't need much time to cook, so after 20 minutes your meat is done. At the very and I mix into it some frozen pies and carrots.
I either make potatoes or rice to go with it, but since I don't like to cook rice myself, it's mostly potatoes. Again, super easy, apart from the short prep, it cooks itself, right?
5. any delivery or take-out
These days I try to limit my deliveries to necessary non-food items, since I never know when exactly the delivery guy comes. I could be feeding Peter or putting him to sleep, and we really don't like to be interrupted in those situations. But when there's real emergency this is an obvious life saver. Plus we have 2 good restaurants within 2-minute radius from our house which also have pizza and daily lunch specials, so at least we have some good options here.
Take-out - not so easy these day, as Peter doesn't appreciate his time in the stroller or car seat. But we're working on it and might be out of the house more often soon. Hopefully:)