I love cooking. There are days when I’d be content to never leave the kitchen (assuming, of course, that someone else is going to do the dishes). But lately, but life’s been so swamped that I haven’t had much time for hanging out in the kitchen and cooking complicated meals. So, what do I cook when I don’t have time or energy to cook something exciting?
Often, we have leftovers. I try to plan my menus a week in advance and if I know an afternoon/evening is going to be busy, I try to make a big meal the night before that we can eat twice (or more!). When that doesn’t work out (like this week, when I somehow ran out of planned meals for the week), I have a few stand-bys that I go to. For most of them, the freezer is key. Keep a stock of “go-to” meals in the freezer and you’ll be set–and now that there’s almost no meat in ours, we’ve got lots more room.
Emily’s Top 6 “No Planning” Meals
Mark Bittman’s pancakes, with 1 cup of whole wheat flour substituted in for one cup of the All Purpose Flour. Pancakes for dinner are a surprisingly excellent meal.
Stir Fry, usually with frozen vegetables and sometimes with tofu. I frequently use the sauce recipe from The Pioneer Woman’s Sesame Noodles, because I’m pretty much obsessed with it (and her).
Tuna Melts There’s an awesome Emeril recipe in the May issue of Everyday Food for a tuna melt that involves tomatoes, capers and red onion. Tuna melts are great on their own, but adding more ingredients makes them even better.
Whole Wheat Pasta, with my favorite marinara sauce, fresh from the freezer.
Pizza I keep extra dough in the freezer and you can top pizza with whatever’s seasonal or in your pantry.
Frittata A perfect way to use up leftover meat, cheese and vegetables, frittatas are ridiculously easy.
What do you cook when you have nothing else planned?