I figured I'd switch things up and give you an easy idea for protein. One of the least respected quick meals is a protein and a can of vegetables or frozen vegetables. I like to buy large packs meat and separate the meat into the amounts needed for individual meals and freeze them. My mother in law was a chef and after we got married, my husband let me in on one of her secrets; she remakes individual hamburger patties, wraps them individually and freezes them. We don't eat beef much anymore but you can steal that if you'd like.
When I need a portion to make a meal, I just pull the freezer bag out and defrost the meat. If it's chicken, I toss some olive oil and butter and spices into the bag and let it marinate for overnight or for a few hours. If it's fish, steak or pork, I usually do a dry marinate with some spices. If it's a burger, I usually season it with season salt as I'm about to cook it.
Did you know George Foreman grills are still a thing?! I don't use one anymore, it either grill in a pan or I fry or we grill on the barbecue pit. But since we're all about easy meals, why not take your meat and cook it quickly and easily on a Foreman grill?
However you cook, honestly protein can be the basis for a quick easy meal. I try to keep plenty of canned and frozen vegetables on hand at all times. Canned vegetables can be as simple as opening the can and microwaving. Frozen only requires a few minutes on the stove to warm.
Even on the worst flare days, I'm able to take my individually wrapped fish, season it and toss it on the stove for a few minutes; bonus points to me if I make vegetables with it.
You could even make an extra portion or two of any of these proteins and put it in the refrigerator for your next meal or a quick meal a couple days later. Be sure to label the container with what it is and the date you are putting it until the refrigerator so you are wondering how long it's been in there.
Each Friday or Saturday we make pizza. We have made pizzas many different ways with many different ingredients, steps and procedures. I'm going to give you some suggestions for quick, easy, inexpensive pizza that are a great alternative to frozen pizzas. It takes me about 30 minutes or less start to finish.
First, we need to chat about crust choices. I have made my own dough in the past but I just don't have the energy anymore. Here is a quick and easy pizza dough recipe if you feel like tackling it. In the past, we have also bought pre-made pizza crusts. These are usually in the same aisle as spaghetti sauce. We discovered pre-made pizza dough about two years ago and we love it! They are a few dollars cheaper than the pizza crusts and not too much more expensive than getting the ingredients to make our own and the convenience is worth the difference. We find the best price at that huge discount store slash grocery store super center that most people consider the devil; it's only $1 there. We also find them at the local grocery chain but they are a little over $3 there. In both places, the dough is in the deli section. I don't have to rank these as to how much energy they require, I'm sure you've done that already.
The ingredients will vary based on which dough/ crust choice you make and what toppings you want on your pizza so I'll explain what we do. My kids are all old enough now to prepare their own pizzas so I make my own as well; sometimes my husband does it for me. My pizza:
• ½ pre-made dough (I like thin crust. Use a full dough for thick)
• pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce* (Italians don't judge me; look away)
• cheese (I use mozzarella and Italian)
• olive oil
• Italian seasoning
* you likely have spaghetti sauce already and will use it for other dishes. This is just easier than dedicated pizza sauce and it tastes fine. I'd stick with traditional flavored/style sauce.
Preheat your oven to 425 or so. I gather all of my ingredients before beginning because my hands get very messy. I take a ramekin and I mix 2 parts butter to on part olive oil and melt it in the microwave. Then I add Italian seasoning and garlic to the mixture and set it aside. I put about a half cup of flour on a clean counter and spread it around bigger than my pizza will be. Then I rub the flour all over the front and back of my hands and between my fingers then pile the remaining flour out of my way. I take half of the dough from the package and begin to flatten it out with my fingers, adding flour as needed. I shape the dough as desired. (generally make a rectangular thin crust, my daughter usually makes a perfect circle with edges like at a pizza parlor, my husband and sons aren't pretty but are utilitarian.) when my pizza is almost the size I want it, I grab my baking sheet and smear my butter/ olive oil mixture on the pan so the crust doesn't stick then put the crust on the pan. Then I smear the butter/ olive oil mixture over the top of the crust; this adds flavor and makes it easier to finish spreading. I continue to spread my crust out on the baking sheet; it's much easier to spread with the oil on top and bottom. Then I wash my icky hands. I place the crust in the oven until it is very lightly browned. I do this because I want the crust cooked and it may not cook as quickly as the cheese will melt. After removing it from the oven, I add sauce and desired ingredients and put the pizza back into the oven until the cheese is melted. I don't over brown my cheese because this makes enough for two meals. I cut the pizza in half, eat half and let the other half cool. I place the remaining pizza into a bag, label it and put it into the refrigerator. When I reheat the pizza in the oven, my cheese won't burn because I didn't overcook it the first time.
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