In my last post I discussed time management and the importance of looking after your health by fitting proper nutrition and exercise into your busy schedule. Today I am going to give you some tips on how to prepare some ready made meals that will make it easy for you to pass by the “Golden Arches” on the way home, have a healthy home-cooked meal instead and also save some money while you are at it.
Most grocery stores sell fully cooked rotisserie chickens in their deli department. This provides a quick family meal to go but it also offers a way for singles to prepare freezer meals without the time, fuss and muss of having to cook it yourself. All you need to do is assemble the meals in freezer containers so they are ready to reheat when you get home from work. Just pop the meal in the oven or microwave as you are heading to the shower and you are ready to eat when you are done.
- 1 Rotisserie Chicken
- Frozen Vegetables
- 2 Microwave Pouches of Rice
- Tomato Sauce
- 1 Lemon
- 1 Small Jar of Your Favorite Asian Curry or Stir Fry Sauce
- Ready-made Chicken Stock
- 1 Package Sliced Mushrooms
Assembling your meals:
- Put a pot of water on the stove to start cooking 2-3 servings of pasta
- Grab your 6-7 storage containers. I like to use the disposable foil food containers with lids because they stack well in the freezer and I can write the date and contents on the tops then just rinse and toss into the recycle bin when I am done but these containers are not microwave safe so they need to be reheated in the oven. If you want to use reusable containers make sure they are freezer and microwave safe and choose ones that can be easily stacked in the freezer and you can see through them (unless you like your meals to be a surprise).
- Cut up the chicken. Remove the two leg/thigh quarters and place them in two of the containers. Divide one of the rice pouches between the two containers as a side dish and add a serving of the frozen vegetables to each. Put on the lid and label with today’s date and “Roast Chicken Dinner”. Pop them in the freezer and you now have two meals prepared.
- Dice up all of the rest of the chicken meat. Remove all of the meat from the carcass. Don’t throw out the bones though, they can be placed in a freezer bag and pulled out at a later date to make chicken soup.
- Divide the other pouch of rice between two more containers. Add a portion of diced chicken meat to each. Add a large portion of vegetables. In a small bowl combine the juice of the lemon with a couple teaspoons of sugar or honey, lots of black pepper (to taste) and enough chicken stock to make 1/2 cup. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch and microwave until thickened stirring every 30 seconds. Pour this sauce over the contents of one of the containers and you have instant Lemon Pepper Chicken. Allow it to cool completely before putting on the lid and labeling. To the other container pour on your favorite curry or stir fry sauce, cover and label. That’s 4 meals done now and it has only taken about 5-10 minutes.
- Add a portion of pasta to 2 more containers. Add sliced mushrooms and a portion of diced chicken meat in each container. Sprinkle with garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Add tomato sauce to both and toss the contents so the pasta is well coated in sauce. Add more sauce than normal as the pasta will absorb some of it. Make sure it is completely cooled before putting on the lid and labeling with the date and “Chicken Cattiatore”. Now you have 6 meals completed. If you wish, you can just assemble the chicken, sauce and veggies to freeze and cook your pasta fresh when you prepare the meal.
- Any leftover chicken, vegetables, pasta or rice can be be combined with the chicken stock, add some spices and you have a ready-made soup that can be taken for lunches or frozen for a meal.
This same process can be done with any roast, ground meat, seafood, etc. Now that you know how easy it is to have ready-made meals there is no excuse for not eating properly no matter how busy your schedule is or how much you think you lack cooking skills.