Two weeks ago Mr. Crumbs and I flew to a wedding. We boarded two airplanes to get there, and another two airplanes to get home.
Every single one of the planes was delayed.
- Missing flight paperwork?
- Need to refuel after 15 minutes of taxiing?
- Touch and go fog at LAX?
- Airplane a no-show?
- Need to change airlines?
- All of the above?
The time spent with family was fun. The to and from? Not so much.
There we were, sitting in our seats with our seatbelts securely fastened, not really knowing if we were EVER going to take off. My stomach let out a tiny pain that only the well-trained body can recognize. The smoothie I had for breakfast had officially run its course. I was hungry.
As visions of sugar plums and tacos danced through my head, I traded in a dollar spot Sudoku book for my trusty spiral notebook and started to plan our menus for the month (which I shared last week).
With an ever increasing appetite, my imagination ran wild. Huge and exquisitely prepared meals filled the days. Lots of freshly baked goods and desserts were essential for every meal. Four weeks of glorious food bliss were headed our way!
I held out the notebook to admire my handiwork and I thought to myself –
Am I crazy? I don’t have time for all of that!
I shook my head and brushed off the eraser shavings from the pages. I don’t want to spend every day, all day cooking. My family doesn’t need gourmet. With the unpredictable appetites of a commuter bicyclist and two young children, leftovers nights are a must!
We’re all in the same boat. We need easy. We need healthy. We need to work when it’s worth it and welcome reprieve when it matters.
Enter the list of “easy meals.” These are the meals that I can make in 30 minutes or less for busy nights or even a night when I need a break in the kitchen. Lucky for me, these are also some of my family’s favorites.
(1) DIY Salad
There’s almost always a container of washed and chopped lettuce in our fridge. Pull this out with any other fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts that we have and dinner is done. Some of my favorite salads:
- Buffalo Chicken and Bacon Ranch Salad
- Southwestern Salad
- Spinach Salad
- Asian Mason Jar Salad
- Honey Roasted Almonds (for topping!)
Like the lettuce, we almost always have a jar of homemade spaghetti sauce in the freezer. If not, there’s homemade pesto in the fridge or we can take frozen green and bacon for this savory pasta favorite. If all else fails, a few smashed cloves of garlic and cheap butter are delicious too. Choose whatever shape pasta is available and call it a night.
(3) Gourmet Grilled Cheese
While my family doesn’t need gourmet, it’s kinda fun to spruce up “boring” meals. Slicing fruit takes less than a minute and mixing up the cheeses offers plenty of sandwich options.
The perfect way to use up random pieces of leftover meat and veggies. Toss in some soy sauce and ginger and serve!
(5) Pulled BBQ Pork/Chicken
This is by no means an exhaustive list. These are simply my go-to meals when I know there won’t be time to cook. Or I’ll be too exhausted from sitting on two airplanes and in multiple terminals to bother making something else!