How To Put Together Last-Minute Meals

Here are my tips for how to put together a last-minute meal for those days when everyone needs to eat, the motivation is low, and the grocery store shopping didn’t happen.  This really happens on the weekends around here more than I’d like to admit.

I do menu plan during the week and highly encourage you to try it!  Even if you don’t have a blog or aren’t interested in linking up a post (although that is fun as well!), the Menu Plan Monday posts hosted by Laura over at I’m An Organizing Junkie are a fantastic resource for meal planning tips as well as new meal ideas.

Sometimes though…I just don’t feel like putting a meal together.  The boys are hungry but they don’t know what they want and they certainly don’t want anything we have readily available.  This always tends to happen on the weekends when the grocery goodness is wearing thin (I typically shop one day a week, Sundays or Mondays during the school year).   Or it happens when one of my children is home sick.  Why do children never get sick on the day after the grocery store trip but always on the day you planned to go?  Sometimes you can just let everyone do their own thing and not worry about those last-minute meals.  I like those days even if I have to close my eyes and pretend potato chips and pickles count as vegetables.   last minute meals

Sunday was going to be one of those days.  I hadn’t gone to the grocery store, we woke up to stormy rainy skies, and I was hoping baseball practice would be canceled.  My motivation was lacking.  The rain cleared but it would certainly be too muddy for baseball practice.

Except, they never EVER cancel baseball practice.  Why won’t the kid just play soccer?  SIGH.  It was time to put together a last-minute meal.  Here is what the boys had for lunch on Sunday:

Last minute meals

Not bad for a last-minute meal.

So how did I pull a rather decent looking lunch out of my hat when I hadn’t been to the store, lacked motivation, and had no input into what they would eat.  Here are a few of my tricks:

  • I freeze the extras when we have leftovers.  These are great for saving the day when you need last-minute meals.  We always tend to have leftover pork chops that go into a freezer bag for another day.

  • Baked potatoes make great last-minute meals by themselves or a great side.  I always seem to have a bag of potatoes floating around in the kitchen.  Microwave them in a covered dish (poke them with a fork first unless you like potato explosions!) for about 10-15 minutes and they are ready.

  • Canned potatoes can also save the day.  While not my favorite, my husband can make a meal out of canned potatoes and the end of the deli ham cooking them together in a little butter.  He did this last night when he came home too late for dinner and the leftovers weren’t appealing to him.

  • Bread is great for rounding out last-minute meals.  We happened to have leftover sandwich rolls from Easter (so yes, a week old) that needed to be used or tossed.  I heated them in the oven for about 10 minutes with the pork chops and had instant dinner rolls.

  • Fruit.  While a nice green salad would have been a great addition to this meal, I hadn’t been to the store and so the vegetable offerings in the fridge were slim.  I did have a pineapple sitting on the counter begging someone to cut it before it went bad.  Pineapple pairs nicely with pork.

  • It’s okay to be different.  Sometimes there are only enough left-overs for a last-minute meal for one or two people.  There is nothing wrong with everyone eating different main courses and having the same side dishes or vice versa.

  • Think inside and outside of the box.  I buy the occasional boxed meal kits and have been known to open them to get out the tortillas or the seasoning packets if I’m missing an ingredient.  Crushed up taco shells make decent tortilla chips in a pinch.

  • When the chips are down, eat them!  Tortilla chips can be turned into nachos or eaten with the little containers of humus sitting in the fridge ready to expire, you know the ones that fell down on the back shelf into the unknown recesses of the fridge.  Or does that just happen here?  Regular chips and a grilled cheese work as a quick last-minute meal.  Throw some of that yogurt hanging out with the humus containers behind the bag of frozen (how did that happen?) carrots.

  • Don’t discount those meals you planned and then didn’t make because the weekly plan changed.  A frozen roast won’t work but spaghetti usually comes together without much effort although as a last-minute meal the garlic toast may be hot dog buns or the sauce may be jarred instead of the favorite frozen brand.

  • Finally, if the going gets tough, the tough get going….to their favorite fast food restaurant (or the nearest one).  There is no shame in needing to occasionally hit up the drive through (it’s called fast food for a reason…unless you work at our local McDonald’s and then, it’s called how many times can you mess up our order before I think I could have thawed the roast and cooked it myself before you get my order right.) or order a pizza.

What are your tricks and tips for putting together last-minute meals when you lack motivation and a fully stocked kitchen?

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I’m linking this post up over at the Pinstastic Pinteresting Party #59 hosted by Blessed Learners.  Lots of good stuff there, go check it out!

Small Project Day: No Taxing Tasks Here

Happy Tax Day!  Is it an oxymoron to wish someone a happy tax day?  I don’t know.  However, in honor of tax day, I’ve decided not to put any taxing tasks on my list for Small Project Day.  I also decided since the day needs an element of fun to tackle small projects that begin with “t” although I’m certainly hoping that won’t be too taxing of a task.

smallprojectday

Here are my 3 non-taxing projects for today that all start with “t”:

  1. Tea time!  This project will make my husband happy as he’s been requesting it.  I have a slight problem with my “Stash” of hot tea.  Some people collect shoes.  I collect new flavors of tea.  I love Stash tea but it isn’t always in the grocery budget so I stock up when it is on sale.  The baking cabinet has become the tea cabinet and it isn’t so pretty.
    Time to relocate my stash of hot teas.

    Time to relocate my stash of hot teas.

    I can find what I want in there but my husband doesn’t like the amount of effort it takes to find a measuring cup.

  2. Throwing out the towels.  I actually got the idea for this from one of the daily tips from Patty over at Homemakers Daily.  We have towels that are pretty much falling apart taking up space in the linen closet.  There really is not a reason I can’t go to Target and pick up some nicer towels for us.  I’ve been wanting some green towels to go with the shower curtain and brighten the bathroom a bit anyway.  First step though…go through the towels we own and donate the ones that are rags to the rag basket.  Actually, the very first step will be to the laundry.
  3. Type on the computer and get some on-line things complete.  This wouldn’t be a task at all except I’ve put these items off so long they’ve become a small task of their own.  I guess you could say I need to pay my procrastination tax.  Ha!

Completing these small projects really does help me feel like I’ve accomplished a least a little something each week.  What small projects are you going to finish today?

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*I’m linking this post up over at Not-So-Wordless Wednesday today.  There are a variety of fun and interesting links over there.  Go check it out!

Happy Homemaker Monday

I had some issues with motivation last week.  The biggest issue was simply that I had none.  I’m hoping this week will be a tiny bit more productive around here.  If I don’t end up getting called into work a bunch, I am hoping to get a few things accomplished around here.

My motivation to continue these planning posts as usual comes from Sandra over at Diary of A Stay At Home Mom and the Menu Plan Mondays hosted by Laura from I’m An Organizing Junkie.  If you need a push to plan your weeks, go check out both sites!  Taking time to plan my week in a blog post really does keep me on track a bit.  I may have lacked motivation last week but at least we had dinner each night!

The Weather Outside

We woke up to cold rainy skies this morning which stopped just in time for J to have baseball practice.  I think it is supposed to be pretty typical sunny, then rainy spring weather with highs in the 60s to low 70s for the rest of our week.  Of course, it won’t rain on baseball practice night, not that I really want it canceled.

Currently

I’m working on this post while listening to the PBS Documentary, Cancer, the Emperor of All Maladies.  It is very interesting.  I had to turn off the show that followed Once Upon A Time over on ABC because it was to intense for me.  I’m also excited because I can hear my husband taking on the “convince the younger child to bathe” duty.  I’m thinking of making a cup of tea.

To-Do List Items

My 7 things before 11 worked fairly well last week until my motivation left and never returned.  That means that I do indeed have a fairly decent to-do list for this week which includes several things I should have done last week:

  1. Laundry (I pretended to do laundry while watching Netflix last week but really I just watched Netflix).
  2. Sign G up for summer school and call and ask questions regarding it.
  3. Figure out what to do with J while G is attending summer school in June.
  4. Blog posts
  5. Clean G’s room a bit (translation: spray lots of Febreeze in there)
  6. Clean J’s room
  7. Go to the grocery store
  8. Go to Target
  9. Get J a new baseball bat (I’m hoping my husband will do this actually. I have no idea how we managed to lose a baseball bat but we did.)
  10. Order gifts for teacher appreciation week.  Normally, I just send gift cards but I know 2 of J’s teachers will like these little boxes of peace so I’m going to attach gift cards to them.  I actually have one and love having the words on my fridge.
  11. Go get some new glasses!  I still have my old glasses but I think it is time to see a bit better even if it means breaking down and getting…pains my fingers to type the word: bifocals.

Oh my, I made a list of 11 things that I need to do in the next 7 days.  I’m sure the list is really longer but I’m stopping there.

Menu Plan

I’m hoping to keep it rather simple again this week despite the fact that I tore a bunch of new recipes to try out of some Everyday Food magazines my mother-in-law gave me last week. The only day I didn’t follow our menu plan last week was Friday when I dropped a frozen pizza upside down in the bottom of our oven.

Pizza I dropped into the bottom of the oven and then left on the oven shelf overnight-oops.

Pizza I dropped into the bottom of the oven

It was not pretty and left me wishing I’d have went ahead with the planned meal.  Did I mention I forgot to remove it from the oven rack where I’d stashed it so I could pick up (almost) 101 olives that fell off of it and only remembered it when I was heating the oven the next morning and started smelling it?

MONDAY: Roast in the Crock Pot or I may go ahead and do the copy-cat Chik-Fil-A sandwiches instead as J woke up with a fever so probably won’t eat dinner.

TUESDAY: Chicken Enchiladas for G & myself and mini-tacos (package) for J & my husband

WEDNESDAY: Fish of some sort, fresh for my husband and me and frozen for the boys.  Baked potatoes or maybe onion rings.  Perhaps I’ll buy some more out of season watermelon.

THURSDAY:  Baseball practice night so something super simple.  I’m thinking chicken sausage and cabbage.  I’ll probably just do hot dogs for the boys.

FRIDAY:  Broccoli, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stromboli, new recipe I found flipping through the magazines.  I’ll have a frozen pizza on hand for a back up meal.

Books and Television (and a movie)

I read Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields.  It was a Dollar Tree find.  I could pick up that she truly wanted to help other mothers as she wrote the book.   While I certainly don’t fault her for protecting her child by not sharing any photos, I admit I was hoping to see at least a few in the book as I read along.

I’m planning on watching our usual Wednesday night comedies but I did drag G out to a movie with his mom yesterday.  We went to see Insurgent which was fairly good but “diverged” from the books enough to annoy us both a bit.  “The book is always better than the movie, mom.”  Just like at the end of the Divergent movie, they tied it up enough that they could stop there if needed.  We were speculating if they would make the Allegiant movie since it would probably potentially upset quite a few viewers especially those that hadn’t read the books.

Blog Posts and Plans

I’m trying to improve and grow my blog but I’m struggling because so many of the ideas for growing and increasing blog numbers just don’t feel genuine to me.  I have trouble supporting blogs with content that to me is not great (politeness) and especially ones that are grammatically impaired (it’s lose, not loose!).  How do they have so many followers?  I simply can not bring myself to follow and support them.  I’m not saying my content is superb but I do proofread and spellcheck religiously and still miss things. However, when the grammar error is consistent, I have to think it’s because the author doesn’t know the rule. This has left me in a bit of a blogging crisis with much to consider.  Where do I want to go with this blog?  What direction to take?  Did any of my more experienced blogger friends experience this?

On a happier note, I do plan to try to post a bit more.  I do genuinely hope at least a few of you enjoy reading my rambling.  And on a funny note, I had my teenager tutor me a bit in Twitter and actually learned a few tiny things.

From the Camera

My tulips finally opened up last week!

My tulips finally opened up last week!

I love these little windflowers that continue to come up and  surprise me each spring.

I love these little windflowers that continue to come up and surprise me each spring.

 Thoughts for the Week

Don’t Trade in Your Authenticity For Approval  (unknown)

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken (Oscar Wilde)

Do not worry about tomorrow,                                                                                                                 for tomorrow will bring enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34)

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Already my plans have changed since I started this post Sunday evening, as I have J home sick from school today.  I guess I’ll have no excuse not catch up on the loads of laundry now.  Maybe I will actually get an extra blog post or two written as well.  What is on your agenda this week?

Five Senses Saturday: My Lazy Week

This has actually been a bit of a lazy week for me.  Sometimes after a holiday or big event (especially one I’m hosting), a lazy week is exactly what is needed.  I was lucky to get to enjoy one this past week.

Here are a few things that set off my fives senses during my lazy week:

Sight

A big part of my lazy week was spent staring mindlessly at the television watching too many episodes in a row of Burn Notice.   My husband and I also watched 22 Jump Street last night.  It was not as good as the first movie but worth sitting through just to see the credits at the end.  I appreciate a stupid comedy that can make fun of itself.

I did work for just a few hours on Tuesday, I think.  I helped out with picture day at preschool so I got to see many cute preschoolers posing for their spring school pictures.

In addition, I enjoyed seeing my white tulips my sister gave me for hosting Easter each day as they reminded me both of her and my favorite show, Fringe (white tulip happens to be the name of the best episode of the series).

lazy week

my white tulips

 

lazy week

Spring “snow” from a windy day. Comes off the Bradbury pear trees, I think.

Sound

Gentle and not so gentle “Excuse me, were you asleep?  Could you please open the door so I could check on something outside.” meows from our cat.  Important cat stuff seemed to occur at 4a.m. a lot this week.

lazy week

Listen to me. Your job is to open that door no matter what time I ask.

Fun conversation with J about the car in front of us on a school morning:

Me:  They have Oregon plates.  They’ve come a long way.

J:  Maybe they are on vacation.

Me:  I don’t know why anyone would leave the beautiful state (I’ve only seen it in pictures) of Oregon to come to Missouri for vacation.

J:  Maybe they are going to Branson.

Made me smile.   Branson is a popular vacation spot.

Finally, fittingly, I heard The Lazy Song on the radio yesterday morning as my lazy week was ending.

Smell

My Easter Lily that my sister-in-law gave me for hosting Easter brunch.  I should probably make a note here that I always ask the people who feel the need to bring things to brunch to bring me flowers.  Yes, it is a shameless ploy but I get pretty flowers to enjoy that way.

By the way, G thinks these flowers smell “horrible” and I even had to remove it from our table so he could eat.  I could stand with my nose in these flowers all day though so I’m taking an informal poll:  Do you think Easter lilies smell great or like my son, do you think they smell ghastly?

Taste

Too much Easter Candy!  Hangs head in shame and admits I even bought more on clearance when I was grocery shopping.

I did use the Peeps to make Rice Crispy Treats because my hair dresser had shared about a parent at her kid’s school making them. It was fun to melt the Peeps.

lazy week

Out of the package and into the pan.

I might have eaten one whole package one prior to melting them.  We had salads with dinner one night also so that balances everything out, right?  I wish!

A glass of Emergen-C since my husband came down with a slight bug on Tuesday.  I didn’t want to take any chances.

Touch

If the Peeps up there, made you go yuck, I know they are love ‘em or hate ‘em candy, then this may put you over the edge as it ranks about a 12 on the gross o meter:  dried cat puke.

I was leaning on the couch to get something that fell off a side table when I realized the top of the couch didn’t feel like smooth leather.  Not a pleasant sensation.  Although, I suppose dried cat puke was better than fresh.  Maybe?  It wasn’t a joy to clean up either.

I guess it is only fitting to say I also touched many, MANY Clorox wipes as well as hand soap and water.

Feelings (Bonus Sense)

I did  feel a bit panicked yesterday when I realized how low the car was on gas as I started the morning school runs.  I still haven’t filled up the tank.

Annoyance at the cost of something I had planned to get my teenager for his upcoming May birthday.   It’s just a shirt with a logo but seriously if he’s going to be advertising their project by wearing it, shouldn’t they pay us?

Um, did I mention I was having a lazy week?  I felt lazy a lot this week.  I think I was just tired and needed a bit of a break.  I am going to finish my lazy week out in style today by doing as little as possible.

Finally, I felt grateful that I was able to have a lazy week and not do too much.

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What things set off your senses this week?

 

 

Doomsday Preppers Pondering

I just finished watching all the seasons of Doomsday Preppers that were available over on Netflix.  It is an interesting show and I wasn’t quite prepared to run out of episodes on it so soon.  There are more seasons available just not on Netflix.  Just like I can wait out the summer for Netflix to add season 5 of The Walking Dead, I can also wait until they add more episodes of Doomsday Preppers. 

If you’ve not watched Doomsday Preppers, it is a fairly straight forward documentary type show that follows people who are preparing for their very own version of doomsday.  My husband joked a bit that he didn’t want me watching it because he was scared I’d turn the basement into a food storage bunker.  I found myself pondering quite a bit of things as I watched the show and not just how we might not be very prepared around here.

I thought I’d share my pondering during the show with you in this post.  Hopefully, you’ll find them as thought-provoking as I found the show at times.  At other times, I found the show rather silly and so if you find some of my thoughts silly, I certainly will not take offense.

doomsday preppers

 

  • We would not last very long in a Doomsday scenario based on the criteria of the show.  I actually just took the quiz over on their site and my score was a generous 1-2 weeks.  I am not sure I’d last that long.

  • While I learned valuable and interesting lessons from watching the show (like the rule of 3: you can go 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, and 3 hours without shelter), I also watched several episodes where I wanted to throw economics, history, and science textbooks through the screen (sometimes all 3 books bundled together).

  • I simply did not get the people on the show who seemed to be spending all their focus on being prepared to the extent they were no longer taking family vacations and were basically checking out of society.  I felt sorry for their children.  It’s one thing to be prepared but it is another to spend so much time preparing that you aren’t actually spending any time living.  The phrase, Get busy living or get busy dying (Stephen King), went trough my mind.

  • Prepping is big business and cool products abound.  I am not a prepper by any stretch but after watching the show, I want the following things:  a crovel, my own wind turbine (pretty sure our city zoning is against it but I still want one!), a solar oven, a rain water filtration system (actually, I’d settle for a rain barrel and have been begging my husband for us to get one forever), solar panels, and a ghillie suit.

  • I’m sure there are better ways to teach your children under age 5 about the food chain and circle of life than having them watch a lady butcher a turkey (it may have been a chicken) right in front of them.  All I could think about when I saw that particular episode was the movie, Silence of the Lambs.  Oh, and that those children would probably grow up to be vegan.

  • I simply do not get the defend your stash of supplies with military weapons and maneuvers side of the preparations.  My instinct would be to help people not shoot them.  I realize I’m over-simplifying a bit but I really stand by my belief that there are more good people in the world than bad.

I want to make a point to say I realize this show probably looks for extremist and like most reality shows probably edits quite liberally to make the people appear more polarized than normal (I certainly hope that is the case with a few of them!).  While we aren’t (even close) to being preppers around here, I am not passing judgment on any readers or friends who happen to follow that lifestyle.

While I was watching the show and researching something, I actually came across The Survival Mom blog and subscribed.  She has great information on her site and I always learn something when I visit.  I’ve had today’s post in the works for a couple of weeks now (working a lot and preparing to have your entire family over for Easter brunch does take a toll on blogging time) and the post on her site today inspired me to go ahead and finish it.  Make sure you watch the video near the end.  I thought she made several good points in it.

As I’ve watched the show and read The Survival Mom blog, I have started to take a few tiny steps to be a bit more prepared.  I updated my car first aid kit plus added one to the baseball bag.  I became aware of how dreadfully unaware my oldest son tended to be when we go places in the car (comes by it honest) and have started trying to make sure the boys know which direction we are traveling and landmarks close to home.  I’m sure there is more but I hear a new Netflix show calling my name.

How prepared are you?

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