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Need bland dinner meals

Okay, Chowhound cooks, I need some suggestions here. My boyfriend plays ice hockey on Monday nights (like tonight!) but he doesn't like to eat dinner before an early game unless it's easy on the stomach. Anything tomato is automatically out (pizza, marinara, etc). Bland is good (mashed potatoes, plain rice, cold sandwich).

So, what do I make for dinner? Obviously, I'd like it to be somewhat balanced (mashed potatoes are not an entree) and tasty since I'll probably be eating dinner with him (or snagging a corn dog from the food court later). I can think of buttered spaghetti with parm cheese, but that's kind of boring (to me) and I don't think I want that to become a standard Monday-night-meal. Oh! Chicken would be okay, I'm thinking, as long as it's not sauced or spicy.

Because I enjoy spices and sauces, my head just can't merge "bland" with "dinner I want to eat". But I know you, as impartial opinions, will be able to come up with some ideas!

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  1. I recently did the butterflied chicken method from Cook's Illustrated, you end up with a lovely roast bird with potatoes roasted in the drippings. The whole thing took under an hour (except for brining the bird). Tastes great, but nothing that would bug your stomach later.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JGrey

      I thought of another one, we used to eat bierrocks before volleyball games in highschool. Plus they freeze very well, and you can just pull out a few at a time. This recipe looks similar to the one I have at home:

      I dip them in ketchup and mustard.

      And the concept would work for anything. I've also made chicken and cheese turnovers with biscuit dough, just cook up a filling, seal it in the dough, and bake like the biscuit recipe says.

    2. Eggs - they aren't just for breakfast any more! Make him a simple ham and cheese omelette, and make yours a little spicier with whatever you want. Serve with grits or potatoes and veggies or fruit.

      I always had eggs and bananas as a protein/potassium kick before swim meets as a teenager.

      1. I often have "bland" meals when my stomach is upset (a.k.a. my euphemism for a hangover). Cabbage sauteed with a bit of olive oil or bacon grease with s+p and a dash of caraway seeds makes a good side. Roasted meat is a very appropriate side and as long as you go easy on the oil (or bake a chicken without any fat whatsoever a la Thomas keller) you should be good to go. Poached chicken and salad is a lighter choice.

        I also second eggs. There's a noodle frittata that I find very filling and appropriate for most men's palates.

        1. agree with eggs, poached, omelettes, frittata, etc. other breakfast type items like pancakes and waffles are good carb boosters roasted chicken with just lemon salt and pepper, with roasted new potatoes. linguine with ricotta sauce and shredded basil and mint. soups like chicken noodle/rice, or asian inspired like ginger/chicken. corn chowder. white bean/spinach soup. chilled shrimp with lemon aioli and tomato salad. turkey sandwich with green apple and cheddar. chicken or tuna salad and bibb lettuce on baguettes with grapes on the side.

          does he eat fish? mild fish like flounder, cod and halibut simply poached or seared would work.

          it is only one night a week after all... ;)

          1 Reply
          1. re: hotoynoodle

            Maybe Mondays will become Breakfast for Dinner night! I like the suggestions for eggs... of course, he likes to eat eggs with ketchup, which is a tomato product, so who knows if that will fly. I think he tends to stay away from dairy, too (like milk, ricotta, yogurt) before games. He's very picky.

            Fish sounds good, though...

            Thanks so far! I've got a good list going to get us through the next few hockey nights. they play year-round, too, so it's not like this is only a seasonal thing!

          2. for veggie sides, how about roasted vegetables? Zucchini or cauliflower are pretty bland, easy to digest, but very good roasted. It's the only way my husband will eat them.

            1. We go through the exact same thing on Thursday nights in my household. This won't be terribly inspiring for you, probably, but we do a lot of high protein smoothies/shakes, pasta primavera, crepes, dosai, iddly, soup (i.e. barley, beef, and veggie) with bread, blini (buckwheat blini is great), rice pilaf, orzo, risotto without too much cheese, or just cereal with milk, the dinner of champions. =) Sometimes we do a single maki roll. More than one makes me slow.

              Load up on the digestible carbs. For us, even eggs take too long to digest and sit in your tummy while you're playing.

              3 Replies
              1. re: cimui

                *sigh* I'm probably thinking about this the wrong way. I'm thinking bland = not spicy/heavy and I should be thinking "quickly digested". So, maybe pancakes are a good way to go!

                Maybe I'll just throw him a loaf of bread and go find dinner in the food court while he's playing, ha ha!

                1. re: leanneabe

                  I think thats your best idea yet! Before BF becomes DH, let him figure out what he needs for his "tummy" and deal with it. I myself fall back on the eggs thing when dealing with different tastes, here's the stuff-do your own thing! A George Forman grill is also very useful for men. Better yet, the Hamilton Beach where the grill plates come out to wash. Is ketchup really a tomato thing??

                  1. re: leanneabe

                    That *is* a great idea. Seriously. A giant hunk of good, fresh bread an hour or two before playing is really hard to beat. Washing it down with soup is optional.

                2. How funny... eggs would have been the last thing I would have suggested- they upset my tummy! What about corn chowder or potato and leek soup- I would think those would be easy on the tummy for sure?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Katie Nell

                    I agree re the eggs. They would be the last thing I would have before my long run - especially with coffee. I don't think the cabbage would be good either!
                    I can't think of anything substantial I'd want to eat right before actually - just maybe a little yogurt and a banana - then eat afterwards.

                    1. re: Katie Nell

                      I agree on the eggs -- once I had a frittata and then went to the gym, and wow, my stomach did not enjoy that at all. I'd recommend pasta with simple sauces, I know that pasta is always easy on my stomach. Simple spaghetti with pesto, or with tuna is easy on my stomach, as is something like rice pilaf or couscous with vegetables and roasted chicken.

                    2. If he loves mashed potatoes, and some red meat is not out of the question, how about some shepherd's pie. I usually use ground lamb in mine, but that doesn't sit well with everyone, I see no problem with using ground beef. Saute a little bit of chopped onion and diced carrot, add your beef (or veal or lamb or a combo) and cook until nicely browned. Add a tablespoon slurry of flour, and toss in a box of frozen peas, cook until the raw flour is toasted, and then pour filling into a casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes and bake at 350 until you get a nice brown crust on the potatoes. Maybe it's not the lightest, but it makes a meal of mashed potatoes.

                      1. I eat mashed potatoes as an entree quite a bit, actually - mix in cheeses and herbs for flavour, and make yourself some vegetables to eat with them. Sounds like you are going for quick digesting, hi-gi food for game energy. Risotto would work, or a risi-bisi - just call it rice soup. Or make a really good dessert to eat later in the evening.


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: pepper_mil

                          I didn't want to say anything before, but I eat mashed potatoes as an entree all the time too! Hahaha. I like to take leftover mash, warm it up with a little buttermilk, stir in some scallions, put in a small gratin dish, and top with good cheddar and bake.

                          1. re: pepper_mil

                            And it's just 1/2 a step away from being potato pancakes, too--which are a totally legitimate-ish meal!

                          2. how about making a big pot of chicken soup? add egg noodles, dumplings, matzah balls, whatever and you've got a nice meal that is flavorful but not hard on the stomach.