Ready to eat meal/snack ideas
Wrist pain has been keeping my mom more and more away from the kitchen and into relying on cans, bread, and worst, instant noodles for meal solution. She is normally a very health conscious person that prefer lots of fruits and vegetables but pain and fatigue is making her look for quick solutions.
My question is what can I make that can be eaten out of the fridge or with a quick heating. So far what i can think of is egg salads and maybe stews. Please list your ideas.
I usually have a frittata and a prepared batch of steel cut oats in my fridge, for my kids to heat and eat, along with chili which I keep frozen in 16 oz freezer containers.
I have a question. I am trying to make something similar to the Oreida steam and mash. My goal is to do the prep work, put them in a bag in the freezer to be microwaved and mashed. I have found the ziplock steam bags, but I am not sure if the potatos need to be pre-cooked prior to freezing. Any help would be great.
Along the frittata lines, quiche is also a good thing to have around - can be warmed if she likes, or eaten cold/at room temp. Pre-cleaned mixed salad greens would be handy - you could cut veggies for her to add to a salad and keep 'em in the fridge too. Grape tomatoes could be left whole and just added later. For a protein, you could pre-cook chicken breasts (maybe marinated beforehand to make them a bit more interesting) and those could be sliced on top of the salad.
Trader Joe's makes a zillion prepared things that can be healthy and are super easy to prepare - do you have a store near you?
Fruit salad will keep for a day or two - good for breakfast and snacking.
Does she eat cottage cheese and/or Greek yogurt? Both good sources of protein and could be prepared in either sweet or savory ways. Trader Joe's or pre-prepped stuff from Whole Foods are probably going to be my fallbacks.
I'll try to think of more ideas - I'm now casted for a bum foot right now and am in a similar situation (w/a family to feed, no less) so I might come up with some other ideas in the next few days!
re: gansu girl
Thanks for the tips so far. We do have microwave but I don't want to go the TV dinner route even if it is trader joes or whole foods. She is not use to cheese, heavy dairy, or stuff with too much meat so Chili wouldn't be an option. So I am still looking for light, veggie oriented bites.
Maybe some roasted veggies that she can re-heat in mw? Roasted chickpeas also might be a good snack, much-discussed on this board. Kale chips, too...? I have not made the kale chips but I've read that they are excellent. Also, how about some cucumbers sliced up in vinegar with some fresh herbs? (sort of like a pickle but without sodium) Oh, also, how about a 3 bean salad?
OK, so cooking in quantity is the answer - here are some ideas - they all make big batches that could be reheated:
A egg/ham/brown rice pie thing - you have to read the recipe to understand: http://www.semisweetonline.com/2009/0...
This makes a vast quantity and you could easily decrease the cheese and it would still be very tasty - bonus is it's in the slow-cooker - you could assemble and let it rip and she could dish it up at suppertime: http://www.semisweetonline.com/2009/0...
Another slow-cooker veggie meal - this one with curry: http://www.semisweetonline.com/2009/0...
For the summer: pasta salad with light lemon & olive oil dressing, chopped parsley, and plenty of whatever her favorite veggies are. In the fall-winter, I like to make a big grain salad and put it in individual containers for the week. My favorite is wheatberries with roasted veggies (eggplant/zucchini, carrots, red peppers, red onion), dried cranberries, feta, black olives, parsley, and a simple red wine or lemon vinaigrette. But you can vary it with different grains if this sounds like something she'd like: quinoa, farro, wheatberries, or if the whole grains are too chewy for her taste maybe try a lentil or bean salad or pasta, orzo, rice, or israeli couscous.
Tabbouleh (your own or store-bought), hummus, cut-up veggies (carrots, red peppers, cucumbers, grape tomatoes).
How much cooking are you willing to do, and can she handle reheating things in a microwave? Soups & stews can go in the freezer, as can lasagna. That way she could have some individual meals ready in the freezer and would not get sick of eating the same thing four days in a row (take it from someone who lives alone). Freeze rolls or small sections of baguette well-wrapped in foil to be thawed and served with dinner. Some favorites of mine: split pea soup, butternut squash soup, Silver Palate's vegetarian chili, Silver Palate's chicken chili, Moosewood's winter vegetable stew, Moosewood's Peruvian quinoa stew (but I double the spices for that one!).
Cold soba noodles with favorite veggies (I like julienned carrots, scallions, and cabbage), extra-firm tofu cubed and toasted in a dry skillet, chopped cilantro, and a dressing of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil (if you want to get fancy, add a squeeze of lemon, pinch of cayenne, and a bit of honey). This one probably should only be kept a day or two.
Jeanne Lemlin's sweet potato & black bean quesadillas. I've made these and then had them cold as leftovers and thought they were still yummy. I'm sure they would be good with a quick reheat in the skillet, not sure about freezing but I'll try it next time I make them. I don't have the cookbook here, but you basically bake a sweet potato, then peel it and slice it thin, and then put the slices between tortillas with black beans, scallions, and a light sprinkling of cheese. Heat in a skillet until cheese melts and tortillas are lightly crisped. Slice into wedges. You can then wrap up halves or quarters for later.
Most fruit can be eaten out of hand. Grapes are especially easy.
You can cook rice and then freeze it to be reheated. Broccoli (cut up ahead of time into bite-size florets) can be steamed quite nicely in a microwave.
If she has a small container of lemon juice and some grated Parmagiano on hand in the fridge, she can jazz up microwave-steamed veggies.
I second the oatmeal, frittata (or mini frittata), and salad greens with pre-cut veggies ideas. Chickpeas or other beans, grilled chicken, and nuts or seeds (sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, walnuts, pepitas) add heft to salads. Depending on how often you'll be there to stock her fridge, you could basically set her up with a salad bar in her fridge so that she could just combine and toss the components. Homemade salad dressing makes all the difference. Whip up a vinaigrette for her, it'll keep in the fridge for at least a week (maybe longer? I usually use mine up within a few days). A nice roll or piece of bread helps make it more of a meal.
You could look at the prepared foods section of your supermarket (if they're healthful) for other ideas of the kinds of things you can make.
Does she have a dishwasher?
Hope some of this is helpful. You are a good daughter/son!
Well, I found this helpful!
I totally agree with going with different carbs, pre-cooked, and then adding different veggies and toppings. Just remember some veggies and certain cooking methods hold up better with reheating than others. Grilled and doused in olive oil, zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes will keep for several days in the fridge. Don't precook brassicas like cauliflower and broccoli - they just get smelly. Pesto and home made tomato sauce (I jar my own) have kept us fed on many can't-be-bothered nights.
Last week my sister brought over a chunky pea dip. The leftovers were unbelievable with some tomato salsa (also holds well in the fridge) and pasta, tossed together. I miss it...
There are countless rice and pasta and other based casseroles that you can prepare, then divide into meal-sized portions and freeze.
Snowpuppy - I don't really have too much to add, other than ready to eat sandwich fixings, which is my usual standby
I DO waht to comment on what a wonderful board that so many people jump right in with so many delicious and easy ideas! Love Chowhounds!
Pre-cook proteins for her. Chicken tenders are great because of their manageable size. Freeze in single layer. Good quality frozen veggies or pre-cut fresh veggies. Pre-cook rice, noodles, grain, potato. Pack all separately. Get her a variety of "stir-fry" sauces or marinades to provide variety. One pan, a drop of oil or spray, add from protein/veg/starch. She has a quick meal with countless variations. You could even pre-pack the combos for the week. Also as it gets cooler the same packets can be heated in broth for a filling soup. All one pot meals with great nutrition.
Steam or roast vegetables for her. I keep them for 3 to 4 days in the fridge and then add them to salads, or toss on top of rice or pasta. I'll throw veg in the strainer and dump the pasta and water over to warm up and toss with pesto or whatever for a fast and dirty meal.
Bean salads... good for the protein
Salads and/or protein/fixings to stuff pitas
Lasagna made with zucchini and eggplant slices instead of the pasta, and go light on cheese, heavy on vegetables
Mediterranean mezzes -- hummus, tabbouleh, etc.