It’s summer, and I don’t wanna cook. Actually, I don’t mind the cooking; it’s the thinking about cooking I want to lose.
My ideal summer day includes leaving the house on an ill-defined adventure with no set get-home-in-time-to-make-dinner plan. When I walk in the door at 5:30 p.m. (potentially in need of a shower), it would be nice to know that a nutritious dinner is minutes from table-ready and doesn’t involve pizza.
I came up with the Rotisserie Chicken Club while writing Minimalist Parenting. But now that the manuscript is done and summer’s here (and my family is totally sick of rotisserie chicken), I made the mistake of easing off the meal planning. Summer is when I’m least motivated to think about dinner, so it stands to reason that automating meals is as important now as it was when I was focused on a project.
So, my new strategy is assemble-and-heat meals. No-brainer dinners that:
- I can throw together with my eyes closed
- My family likes (most of them, at least)
- Involve very little prep and cleanup
Frozen vegetables make a big showing here for the ease-of-prep factor. I’m lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, but most of these veggie combos can be found at any well-stocked grocery store.
Here are the most successful entries so far:
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Pasta with sausage, onions, and peppers 1 of 5This is the meal that inspired this post. Garlic herb chicken sausage, grilled peppers and onions (precut and frozen from TJ's) heated and served atop pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan.
Photo credit: Great Chicago Italian Recipes
Broccoli tofu stir fry 2 of 5Reliable family standby from our vegetarian days. Precut broccoli (fresh or frozen) and cubed tofu, sauteed with minced garlic and ginger from a jar and seasoned with a sprinkle of soy sauce, sesame oil and brown sugar. Sometimes I throw in a can of cut baby corn.
Photo credit: Delish.com
Chicken pot pie 3 of 5
Enchiladas 4 of 5My secret? No rolling! Combine a bottle of Trader Joe's Enchilada sauce with a can of tomato sauce. Layer corn tortillas, sauce, shredded cheese, grilled onions and peppers (frozen!) and whatever else sounds good. Top with cheese and bake. Garnish with sliced olives and green onions.
Photo credit: Pinch My Salt
Hot dogs 5 of 5Not original but a major treat during short Portland summers. On the grill with corn on the cob, canned baked beans, sliced fruit and all the fixins.
Photo credit: D. Sharon Pruitt for Outdoor Cooking Magic