Instant food ideas, including ready meals(16 Posts)
Reflecting on how I spend my time, the most stressful parts of my day are the bits I spend trying to cook with a toddler "helping", the time I spend planning meals for the week, and shopping (online takes even longer, given that our local supermarkets have never yet not made mistakes with deliveries).
I've had enough, I'm always wrecked. My DH comes home every evening to a frazzled wife. I always loved cooking before I became a mother, but I now hate it. I can't do food prep wat naptime, as I need to catch up on work. So I've decided to switch to ready meals, which I have never bought before, and leave cooking for the weekends.
Can anyone offer any advice or reccomendations?
I'm often dissapointed with supermarket ready meals. These people are v good www.cookfood.net/
I'd alternate these meals with supermarket standbys such as baked potatoes & salad, oven chips with egg/fish portions/sausages, fish cakes & steamed veg, dr oetker pizzas, etc.
I'm scaling back the cooking ATM (toddler, new baby, DH working crazy hours). If you cook double each day at the weekend, then you've got 2 weeknights sorted.
Morrisons curry ready meals are quite nice, as are most supermarket lasagnes, especially M&S. New Covent Garden Soups good with garlic bread. Other than that we are eating a lot of jacket potatoes, eggs and toast.
White fish (frozen works fine); large pot tomato pasta sauce, e.g Tesco fresh one; harissa paste; fresh coriander, v easy and tasty, just bung all in pan and heat til fish cooked. Plus toddler can be distracted and actually help by cutting up coriander.
I'm a bit the same during the week. My quick easy meals are:
Sweet & sour (Uncle Ben's) cooked with quorn chicken plus b-i-b rice
Salmon and flavoured couscous
Fresh pasta with sauce from the chilled aisle
Breaded chicken or fish with oven chips
For ds aged 4.6, I do freeze portions of weekend stuff plus also make things to stick in freezer for him, such as meatballs or macaroni. A cooked chicken with a potato or waffles is one of his favourites, gets it on a supermarket day! He eats at nursery 3 times a week though which helps.
my easy meals are20 mins)
sausages/mash/frozen veg (as required)
stir fry chicken - microwave rice, jar of sauce, chicken left over from sunday roast, peppers chopped up (which toddlers can help with). i try and chop over breakfast then can get it all out the fridge ready to go.
baked beans on toast
pizza (but not so much)
ready made meatballs with jar of tomato sauce(DH does this one)
fish pie/shepherds pie made the day before
(always make extra mash!)
oven baked salmon.
i find the hardest parts are the carbs (if you chop potatoes small and start with boiling water you can do mash in 20 minutes)
and the veg (frozen stuff helpful but cauliflower really easy from fresh)
don't ask how the got in there - i am please my meals take 20 minutes. coming in from swimming at 5.30 with 3 starving children is no joke!
also slow cookers are good - you can do the prep for tomorrow's meal on the night before (IYSWIM). so i can do friday's meal now, after the kids have gone to bed. then get it out the fridge in the morning and leave it to cook all day. again the carbs can be a problem - think microwave rice or baked spuds.they are dead cheap, have a look at the threads on here for some advice.
you have to like 'stews' though.
I'm not a ready meal fan - mainly because they're so expensive and I know I can always do better!
But here are a couple of quick 'bung in the oven' things that I do. First is mince and onions - literally just that. Dice a couple of large onions, fry in olive oil, add 500g of beef mince. Season with salt/pepper, a good sloosh of Worcestershire sauce, any dried herbs you fancy, and add an Oxo cube. Stir till meat is browned. (If you have the time, you can chuck in a couple of sliced carrots as well).
Add about a litre of water and then simmer for at least half an hour, with a lid on. Then take the lid off, taste, and season as appropriate. Cook until the liquid has reduced and it's the consistency you like.
Serve with some ready made Yorkshire Puddings and a tin of baked beans.
It's only the time to cook that you need to factor in - prep time is minimal.
Second idea - barbecue pork chops/steaks. Cover the pork in barbecue sauce (Heinz table sauce variety rather than cook-in/Homepride variety), Worcestershire sauce and black pepper.
Bake in the oven on a medium heat for around an hour, checking constantly - it can dry out, so add boiling water to the oven dish occasionally.
If you put a jacket potato in the oven at the same time, they should all be ready at the same time.
Third - buy pre-prepared filled pasta and a sauce - this is the closest to a ready meal I'm prepared to go! Just make sure you have a bag of salad to serve with it and lots of fresh parmesan.
If you have a potato ricer then you can make mash by micrwaving baked spud and ricing it. I find this far better than peeling spuds.
I hate ready meals they always taste fake and they're never big enough. Try googling once a month cooking. The idea is you cook one day a month then freeze it all in portions for your own ready meals.
I aim to make at least one meal for the freezer at weekend. I always make enough for 3 nights in one go.
I do a curry, bolognaise, chilli, cottage pie etc
All I have to do is take out of the freezer and defrost in the fridge overnight then reheat and cook rice/pasta to accompany as necessary. Tea in 10 mins.
If you do it every week you soon have a nice stock in your freezer - I have a list on the door reminding me what is in there.
I bought those rectangular pyrex dishes with lids - still going strong after 5 yrs. Stack easily in freezer, can see what is in them and can go in oven/dishwasher/microwave.
Thanks all for the suggestions, I'll be trying them out over the next few days!
We had fishfingers, peas and chips for dinner yesterday. It was a lovely relaxing evening, and I was able to get chores done, e.g. laundry sorted etc before DD's bedtime. DD also loved eating it, and if she had refused her food, as she so often does, I would not have felt frustrated, having made no effort!
also of course remember fruit/yoghurt for pudding!
it sounds like you are having a hard time at the moment - are you coping ok otherwise?
(i must confess i buy the omega3 fishfingers to try and beat my guilt down)
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