Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Doesn't Real Food Take a Lot of Time?

When I am asked this question, the first thing that comes to my mind is, "Compared to what?"

If you're used to making a frozen pizza for dinner, then making it homemade will take a bit more work and time. However, if you are used to ordering pizza, I'm convinced that you could have a homemade one on the table at least as quickly as it takes for the delivery guy to arrive.

Fast Food


Cheeseburger...On the Side
Or this?
If you're used to running through a drive-through on the way home from school/work/soccer practice, then making  cheeseburgers or chicken nuggets homemade might take more time. On the other hand, if you're used to dinner at a sit-down restaurant of any kind, you can make these foods at home in the same amount of time it takes for the waiter to get the food to your table.

For me the trade-off for better taste (not to mention health) is totally worth it. I used to dump a can of Campbell's soup in a pot on soup night. It only takes a little longer to make a delicious homemade soup and there is no comparison! Homemade Hamburger Helper or Macaroni and Cheese takes pretty much the same amount of time. And sauteing that chicken breast instead of deep frying it? Real food is a time saver in that case!

Here are a few other real foods that improve the taste phenomenally but take less than 10 minutes of hands-on time:
  • homemade taco seasoning instead of  the little packets
  • homemade popcorn instead of  microwave popcorn packets
  • oven brown rice instead of  packets of seasoned rice
  • cheddar potato strips instead of frozen french fries
  • homemade bread in bread machine instead of frozen dough
  • oven roasted chicken instead of rotisserie chicken
Here is an entire real food meal that take less than 30 minutes of hands on time:
An hour to two hours before you eat, dump 2 cups brown rice, a dash of olive oil and 5 cups water into a 13 x 9 pan. Sprinkle with salt and cover with foil. Set oven on 400 degrees and forget about your rice for about an hour. When the water is absorbed, just turn the oven off until you're ready to eat it.
About 15-20 minutes before you want to eat, pull some cooked meat out of your freezer. Our favorite is leftover steak cut into thin strips. All you need is one or two leftover steaks for this meal. You can also use cooked, diced chicken or even cooked hamburger.
Put 1 or 2 T. olive oil in a skillet, toss in some chopped onion and minced garlic (I just buy it in a jar). Now toss in your steak and any frozen or leftover veggies you have in the fridge or freezer. (I would skip the eggplant, but it's totally up to you!) Sprinkle on some seasonings of your choice.
While that's getting warmed and the flavors are blending, toss together a salad. You probably even have time to whip up a homemade dressing.
Put a generous amount of rice on each plate, top with the meat mixture and call it stir fry. My husband likes to put soy sauce on his. I have an aversion to anything soy, so I like mine best plain.
Good things sometimes take more time, but real food really doesn't require you to be in the kitchen all day. Unless of course, you include the dishes.

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