Last week I found my self once again facing another long tour at work with no food in the fridge. When I say there was no food in the fridge it sounds a bit dramatic, what I actually mean is that the pantry and freezer are over flowing but there are no meals prepared for my family to live off of while I am away at work. Although the S.O. is more than happy to throw something together for dinner, he walks in the door right at dinner time and I know that if I can take this one stressor off of his plate (pun intended), it will make his evenings as Mr. Mom (and Mr. Dad) go much more smoothly. Its quite a conundrum when its nearly bedtime the night before I disconnect myself from home for four days & I am staring at the bare shelves of the refrigerator wondering what I can tell the Nanny to feed my kids over the next couple of days. PB&J’s are always a safe bet but a toddler cannot live on jelly alone, so I threw together a handful of meals in a hurry.
Fixing spaghetti feels like cheating because it’s so easy and fast to throw together. I keep a few boxes of noodles and sauce on hand for hectic days. I will jazz up the sauce a little, depending on what I have on had. Sometimes I use TVP (textured vegetable protein) which is in replace of ground beef or turkey. When we were transitioning to vegetarian I would use Meatless Ground, but as time passed and we adjusted I switched to TVP simply because it is more cost effective & it stores well. I enjoy mixing frozen veggies and black beans into my spaghetti sauces as well, I feel like it packs more nutrition into a basic meal. We are big on left overs but even still there always seems to be extra sauce. Once the noodles are gone I throw the remaining sauce into the freezer so that I can add it in the next time I make Cheater Spaghetti.
I have kept a boxed meal of Peanut Pad Thai in my pantry for just this very occasion: short on time and out of creativity. I rummaged through my produce drawer and added in some fresh mushrooms and then I pulled a bags of frozen veggies to add to the mix as well. We love tofu in this house so I included a block of extra firm soy-goodness into the dish. I love how tofu is so versatile that it takes on the flavor of the dish. This was quick and easy & pretty darn tasty too.
I am into batch cooking, and if I am going to go through the trouble of a more time consuming dish I will double or even triple the batch so that I can freeze some for a later use. I was relieved to find a frozen vegan lasagna in the deep freezer, a rendition of a Happy Herbivore lasagna recipe. Just like that, another meal is taken care of.
While I was at it I treated myself to a healthy green smoothie as well. Kale & frozen fruit. It. Was. Awesome.
Not an impressive list of meals this week. Nothing spectacular or labor intensive. But this is real life where I am often times really short on time. My main priority is to make sure that my family eats healthy and leaves the dinner table satisfied, even if they are just eating Cheater Spaghetti.
What are some of your go to meals when you find yourself in a bind and out of time?