Information, helpful advice, and commentary about topics relevant to relaunchers.

Five-Minute "I-Hate-to-Cook Suppers"

Quick and easy dinners make work/life balance easier.

I don’t know anyone who hates cooking as much as I do so the major criteria of these supper recipes is that they take no more than five minutes of my time in the kitchen and that my kids will eat them. I have not seen the first two recipes anywhere (not that I actually study recipes, since I hate to cook), but I think they’ re reasonably original. You probably know the other three, but they fit the criteria so here goes:

1. Pasta and Tofu
Pour about 1 tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan and heat; slice up one full block of tofu into about a dozen rectangular pieces of tofu and lay them in pan; splatter some soy sauce and sesame seeds on the tofu and leave to sauté on low/medium heat; boil up water for pasta; throw together a salad or boil up a package of frozen veggies. When the pasta is done and the kids are hungry, let them make a plate of pasta and veggies, then pour on their favorite jar of tomato sauce and/or cheese and zap in the microwave. Place tofu strips next to the pasta mixture. This is literally my family’s favorite weeknight supper. And mine. It takes almost no time and has protein, veggies and carbs.

2. Tofu Tacos
No, I am not a vegetarian, but with the right sauce tofu is a quick and easy supper protein. For these tacos, I slice the tofu block into little cubes and sauté with any combination of the following that I happen to have in the fridge: BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, soy sauce; then I boil up a can of kidney beans and put out bowls of cut tomatoes and cheese pieces. When the tofu and beans are hot, I call in the kids, put out a box of tacos and tell them to spoon in portions of each item and zap it in the microwave. Another instant family favorite.

3. Home Made Sloppy Joes
A lot of you are probably already making this one but I just came up with it myself a couple of weeks ago when I wanted to make spaghetti and meatballs but didn’t have time. Saute sliced onions and peppers (whatever you’ ve got) in a frying pan with oil. Throw in some ground beef and stir; throw in whatever tomato goop you’ve got lying around the house—leftover pasta sauce, canned crushed tomatoes, whatever—stir. Cover and let cook until you think it’s done. Serve with salad and rice or pasta or mashed potatoes or even tacos if you have no time to whip up a carb.

4. Salmon and Onions with Rice
Put up a pot of rice. I prefer basmati because it cooks faster (30 minutes), flakes well and has a pleasant flavor. Saute sliced onions and oil in a frying pan. Toss in salmon fillets, skin side down. Leave uncovered and go do something else. When you start to smell the fish in another part of the house, return to the kitchen, turn the fish over, peel off the skin so your kids won’t get grossed out and let the other side cook, again uncovered. When the fish looks done (no jellyish-looking sides) and the downside is nicely browned, call in the kids, flip the fish so the most appetizing-looking side faces up and serve with the rice that is hopefully done now too and a hastily tossed salad.

5. Grilled Chicken Cutlets and Veggies
This one requires a little planning, but I’ve found that 5 minutes invested weeks or months in advance can get me out of a “ supper jam” tonight, so here’ s what I do: whenever chicken cutlets are on sale, I buy them in bulk, wash and trim them, stick enough for one family meal into a series of Ziploc freezer bags, pour BBQ sauce into each bag, shake up and freeze. Then, when I know I have a busy day, I take out a bag in the morning to defrost and grill with sliced peppers or zucchini. I like to grill all year (feels more like camping than cooking) so this is not just a summer supper in the Rabin household. I usually serve with the ever-present pot of basmati rice.

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