Favorite Meals and Ideas

I have written this up as much for myself as for anyone else.  I often forget about favorite meals in the day-to-day planning.  I will be adding to this list frequently.  Any comments are always welcome! 
When I actually do this, I look at my freezer, fridge and pantry and plan accordingly.  I rarely shop for specific ingredients, unless there's a special occasion or I have been wanting to make something in particular.

Sides are rare around here.  If I'm not cooking a one-dish meal, I often just steam some frozen vegetables in the microwave and serve as is.  It may sound boring, but it's good.  I might make a salad.  I rarely make bread.  I might microwave baked potatoes occasionally if it's a "meat and potatoes" meal.  Or I might cook some quinoa/rice to go on the side.  

We eat many leftovers around here.  I always cook more than we need and we eat it for lunches and often another supper a couple days later.  With some meals I like to freeze a portion for an "emergency."  When I do meal-plan I write it down on a list on the fridge, and I write the date we must eat the leftovers by next to it. 

Meat on hand when the opportunity (read: good enough sale) arises:
- boneless skinless chicken breasts (the ones that are separately frozen are great)
- whatever other meat I've found at a low enough sale price: ground beef, ground turkey, 6ish pound whole chicken (small enough to fit in a 6 quart crockpot), pork shoulder roast, London broil, decent hot dogs, sausage, random clearance meats such as cube steak.
- cooked ham leftover from a ham supper
- cooked taco meat makes a quick throw-together meal
- meal-sized portion cooked chili

A few of the regulars around here:

Thai Chicken- bottled lemon juice and dried cilantro means I throw this one together without much planning (just enough to thaw the chicken, and it sometimes goes in frozen if I have enough cooking time).

CrockPot Whole Roasted Chicken - delicious and easy.  My 6 quart crockpot holds a 6-7 pound chicken. 

Chicken stock- after the meal pick the chicken from the bones, put the carcass back in the crockpot with the cooking juices, fill with water, and cook a few more hours. Strain, chill, skim the fat off the top, and use to make chicken soup within a couple days or put it in the freezer for later.

Stir-Fry- saute diced boneless skinless chicken breasts, stir-fry onions, garlic and vegetables from the freezer section or whatever fresh vegetables sound good (starting with the ones that need longer to cook) then add a mixture of chicken broth (bouillon), soy sauce, cornstarch and red pepper flakes and cook until thickened a little and heated through.  Serve with (brown) rice or quinoa.

Mongolian Beef- This one just joined "the rotation" but it's definitely a keeper.  I added a bag of frozen broccoli towards the end, and next time I want to increase the amount of sauce to accommodate it.  

Spicy Shredded Pork- I cook the meat, then chill and skim the fat off the juice before mixing it back in to make moist, delicious pork. This can be eaten as is on tortillas, topped with taco toppings on a tortilla, add barbeque sauce on a bun, and the list goes on. It freezes beautifully for a quick meal.

Beans (or when I need something fast):
Black beans (sometimes with tomatoes/corn/salsa) and rice or quinoa, can add lime juice and use fresh tomato to fancy it up a little.

Warm Lentil Salad - add additional vegetables (mushrooms, kale, etc.) as desired and adjust the dressing amount accordingly.

I usually use canned beans (except lentils), because they're fast and I can get them cheap (55 cents per can, which is excellent around here). It would be even cheaper to cook dried beans ahead and freeze them in can-sized portions.

The following are still regulars, but a little more rare:
Pasta with Chicken, Feta and Olives-This is one of the few meals I actually shop for specifically.

Cube Steak Sandwiches (or wraps)- I cook it all with olive oil spray and/or olive oil and add a little butter to the sauce at the very end. I also add more onions and mushrooms, and I have made it with about 1/2 a head of cabbage as well. You still get wonderful flavor, but the meat goes much farther (as in 3-5 servings with less than 1 pound of cube steak bought on clearance) and it's a little more healthy/filling.

Quiche-with more vegetables, maybe with sausage.  This can be made without a crust.

Greek Turkey Burgers with tzatziki sauce- either on a hamburger bun or in a pita pocket.  

And while you have the Feta on hand, Greek Salads with lettuce, green peppers, carrots, red onion, kalamata olives, and a vinaigrette are perfect.  

Even more rare:
Macaroni and Cheese - This is how my mom made it growing up, but without the egg.  It is absolutely delicious.  I serve it as a main dish with a side of steamed vegetables.  I reduce the butter a little, use skim milk, and sometimes use lower fat cheese.

Pasta Carbonara Frittata -Quick and easy if you have pasta leftovers. I change the vegetables as needed, and make it with or without the bacon.


Taco Soup- this uses just 1 pound of ground beef/turkey and makes a full 6 quart crockpot (freezer friendly).

Black Bean Soup- Delicious, not too spicy. 

Chicken soup- from chicken stock made from a whole chicken. Could be Lemon Chicken Soup with Spinach or simply chicken noodle or chicken vegetable soup.

Chili- this freezes very well too

Ham stew- ham stock from a boiled leftover ham bone, add potatoes, diced leftover ham, cabbage, canned diced tomato, dill, salt, pepper, and maybe some other vegetables or beans.

Baked Potato Soup-This is good by itself or with the "loaded baked potato" toppings.  It isn't a regular around here, but it's delicious!

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