Do you love good food, but hate to cook? Is your schedule so filled with the people and activities you love, that you find it hard to keep up with all the basic chores of life? Do you procrastinate with meal planning and preparation, so that every time mealtime rolls around, it feels like an emergency? Do you find yourself responding to this “emergency” by picking up take-out, or by fishing around in the freezer for fish sticks, frozen pizza, and chicken nuggets? Do you wish you could just come home, and have a delicious, nutritious meal waiting for you and your family?
Let me share five simple things I have learned, in my search for sanity…. but first, let me introduce you to a good friend of mine: Mr Crockpot. Mr Crockpot is getting up there in age, and some people consider him obsolete and no longer relevant. But at our house, we still appreciate his services, often several times a week. He has a special touch, and is able to take some of the most economical cuts of meat and make them melt-in-your-mouth kind of yummy. Furthermore, if you just take a moment to wake him up in the morning, he works all day while you are gone, and you get to come home to delicious smells wafting through the house and into the garage. Mr Crockpot has been replaced in many homes by Mr Instant Pot. Mr Instant Pot (at least the one who moved in with us), appears to be rather lazy, as all he does most days is sit around on the shelf. Some day soon, we need to have a meeting with Mr Instant Pot, to determine how we can better utilize what he has to offer. In the meantime, we will continue to allow Mr Crockpot free room and board, in exchange for his services.
Now, back to those survival skills I have learned.
1. When you start with good meat, you don’t have to add a bunch of extra ingredients to make it good; it IS good! When I cook a chuck roast, for example, I put the roast into Mr Crockpot, cover the bottom of the crock with water, add about a teaspoon of salt, and Mr Crockpot does the rest; it may take him all day, but he does a fabulous job!
2. Cook more meat than needed for one meal, then get creative with the leftovers!
– Fork-shred leftover roast, and add BBQ sauce for simple BBQ beef sandwiches.
– Slice leftover steak into thin slices, and make steak and egg wraps for breakfast
– Grill all-beef hot dogs for sandwiches one evening, then slice up the leftover hot dogs and fry them with eggs in the morning.
3. Ground beef from the farm is a different food than “bargain” grocery store ground beef. One of my customers recently told me, “I ran out of hamburger, and I almost went to the grocery store for some, but I knew I would be so disappointed…so I just waited until I could get it from you at Farmers’ Market!” Once again, if you start with good meat, it takes less effort to make a good meal.
4. Buy BBQ sauce by the gallon. Ok, maybe that’s extreme, but we actually do use a lot of BBQ sauce at our house. It comes in handy for things like short ribs the easy way: put Mr Crockpot to work again. Slather the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce and let them simmer all day. (One of my customers who does them this way says that when her kids know there are short ribs cooking, they beg to NOT have guests, so that they don’t have to share!)
5. Keep these “emergency foods” on hand for some on-the-go protein: beef sticks, bologna, and jerky. Think outside the box for using them, too. Grate the beef sticks on top of salad. Serve the bologna with cheese and crackers… or chop it up and fry it with your eggs.
Those are just a few of my favorite little tips in my culinary emergency prevention plan.
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Until next time,