We put Wesley in year-round swim this year for a couple of reasons. First, he ended his first summer swim well…in the strokes he mastered…but he was still not “legal” in breaststroke and butterfly so we thought he could use some practice to be fully legal this summer. Second? He plays a crapton of video games and it makes us feel better if he periodically exercises too.
3-4 days of the week we leave the house at 4:20pm and don’t come back until 6:20pm. 2 of those nights a week Donnie has yoga classes until 7pm and one night Nikki and I have speedwork. So, everyone is wanting/needing dinner at different times. I was kind scrambling every week and trying to just plan on leftovers those nights or I’d just make the kids fend for themselves with things like uncrustables or cream cheese bagels. They, of course, had no problem with that but Donnie and I like real food EVERY night (I know! We’re so bougie!) so I kept trying different things and I have discovered two sets of easy meals that I thought I’d share that work sitting out for awhile and take about 45 seconds of “prep” time.
(Reminder for those of you new here…I really don’t like cooking. I’m a can-opener cook. I hate slicing/dicing food and I hate dirtying dishes and I hate spending more than 5 minutes prepping ANYTHING.)
The first is the Frozen Skillet Meal/Fake Meat combo. Now, Amy’s is a popular vegetarian brand and there’s a few “For 2” skillet meals in SOME grocery stores. BUT…they are usually around $8 and when you add the $4 packet of whatever fake meat I add, that’s $12 for two people and that’s not sustainable on our grocery budget. Then I discovered that Archer Farms – the Target brand- makes a BUNCH of meatless skillet meals in the freezer section and they’re only $3 a pack! That’s way more sustainable for a quick/easy vegetarian dinner.
You don’t have to add a meat substitute, obviously, but it stretches further and feels more satisfying to ALL of us if I do. I usually add my favorite fake kielbasa/sausage type meat (Brand Field Roast, usually in the produce section) to the tomato one but I do the fake chicken strips to all of the others. It takes like 15-20 minutes for all of that to heat up in the skillet, which I do around 3:30pm and then leave it on the stove all night and whenever anyone is ready to eat they make a plate. I usually eat a little before swim and a little after, heating up the plate a little bit for the “after” serving.
Now, for an even EASIER dinner combo there’s these Taste Bite brand Indian food pouches which I’ve been using since time at Mom’s this summer. But for dinner, I add ONE pouch of rice to TWO pouches of veggies/sauce and my favorite meat substitute again and this time? IT IS ALL MICROWAVABLE.
Now, at my Target there are about 4-5 different flavors of those pouches and I only add rice for lunch but for dinner I just switch up the meat substitutes. The price-per-meal is about the same as the archer farms skillet meals. I heat this all together in the microwave for a few minutes, stir (those rice envelopes are great but you have to break up the rice chunks), and then a few more minutes and then DINNER FOR ALL! And again, I just leave it out on the counter and whenever anyone is ready to scoop it on a plate they can.
Now, Wesley only eats a few versions of these meals, but Nikki will eat most of them and Donnie and I love them so I consider that a success! Most nights there’s even enough leftover to give me one lunch at home. And by switching up the initial packets and the meat substitutes I’ve had several different combos so no one feels like I’m cooking the same thing every night. IT HAS BEEN GREAT!
It’s hard being a busy vegetarian that hates to cook, I’m glad so many brands accommodate me.