I used to pride myself on cooking almost everything I served my family from scratch. These days though I’m not averse to buying and using foods that help me spend less time in the kitchen, and have no problem purchasing things like frozen meatballs, pre-made potstickers, jars of marinara sauce, cookies from the bakery, or using a mix as the foundation for a cake.
I still enjoy cooking and baking, but I don’t enjoy getting overheated in the kitchen, a big issue here for me. So, meal preparation has meant including more ready-made items that help me put dinner on the table faster and keep me from becoming a hot, wilted mess. Convenience items have also helped me better adapt to our family’s busy and ever-changing schedule these days.
Before purchasing any frozen or convenience foods I carefully read the labels – with a couple of exceptions (i.e cake mixes, which I used maybe every other month) we don’t buy anything with preservatives, or other ingredients we can’t pronounce. Convenience foods can cost more, but surprisingly not by all that much or at all if we buy them at Costco. For example, we cannot buy quality, grass-fed ground beef here and make hamburger patties for any less than the frozen ones we buy at Costco. It’s the same for other items. I will buy convenience items out in town that I don’t want in bulk, like salad dressings and such, but the cost is high so we keep those at a minimum.
Here’s what we’re having this week (only one convenience item being used, the sauce for the pork & pepper stir fry):
- Tuesday (this evening): Chili pork burritos; grilled zucchini (no rice for me) – this got bumped from yesterday
- Wednesday: Grilled fish tacos with fresh mango salsa; yellow rice; cucumbers (no rice or tortillas for me)
- Thursday: Barbecued teriyaki chicken; zaru soba; cucumbers (I’m going to try dipping zoodles instead of soba!)
- Friday: Chinese 3-color salad (hiyashi chuka) with chicken (zoodles for me vs. rice noodles)
- Saturday: Leftovers
- Sunday: Caprese skillet eggs; grilled zucchini; toast; fruit (I’m skipping the toast)
- Monday: Pork & pepper stir-fry; steamed rice (no rice for me)
We’ll need cucumbers, cilantro, basil, and a jalapeno pepper (if we can find one) from the farmers’ market this week. Otherwise, we’ll be buying lots of lovely summer fruit!