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easy dinners for swing shifters

I'm a single guy that maybe has one old cook book my mom gave me and a few mixed recipes at 49 I tend to eat the basics mostly baked or fried chops,steak once in awhile chicken rarely,and never enough veggies,thats the dinner part.lunches are sandwiches and/or soup,leftovers or chili dogs.Also pizza which rounds out the veggie and meats,lol.The problem is that I don't eat breakfast unless it's the weekend which is really good like chicken fried steak and eggs,toast,sausage,gravy and hashbrowns,yumm.But work week it's sandwiches for lunch and a fast dinner as I get off work at 11:00 pm so preparing and cooking for an hour that late and being tired from work is not something you want to do.I was wondering what some other people are having when they work these hours mostly after they get off work and I've tried cooking for lunch so I have a plate ready to warm up when I get home,that works well.

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  1. My go-to is stir fry --

    Start the rice when you get home -- 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt - when it boils, add 1 cup of rice, put the lid on, and turn it down to low for 20 minutes. (you can always make a big batch over the weekend, or use converted/Minute/whatever)

    I keep chicken breasts in the freezer at all times -- individually wrapped in plastic wrap, then piled into a big bag. Pull one out before you head into your shift -- it'll be at least partially thawed by the time you get home. When you get home, just slice it (it slices even better if it's still a little frozen). Toss it into some teriyaki or soy sauce while you finish up.

    You could easily sub out beef or pork for a changeup.

    Keep a big bag of mixed stir-fry veggies in the freezer (I buy them at Sams or Costco)

    Heat some oil in a large skillet, and brown the meat. Add a couple of handfuls of veggies. Toss for a few minutes until the veggies are hot and the meat is cooked through.

    By now the rice is done-- reasonably healthy dinner in 20 minutes, and if you make a little extra, you have lunch for tomorrow.

    You could do this at lunch time for leftovers tonight, too.

    Spaghetti is also dead easy -- you could make a pot of sauce (even if it's jarred sauce doctored up with some hamburger and/or italian sausage) and keep it in individual portions (in ziploc bags) in the freezer. Boil some water for pasta, warm the sauce in the micro, and dinner.

    1. I suggest that you select a weekend day to prepare several recipes that can be refrigerated and can be reheated during the week when you get home late.

      I also suggest that your start eating breakfast for health reasons.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ChiliDude

        I second the cooking on the weekend for reheating during the week. We've always cooked this way, but we're doing it even more now that Mr Rat's schedule has changed from overnight graveyards to evening swing. It's a lifesaver since I think that even a Thirty Minute Meal may be way too much too deal with when you're getting home after 11 PM.

      2. Although I don't use a slow cooker, it might be perfect for you.

        1 Reply
        1. re: magiesmom

          I agree. The slow cooker is your friend. Look up slow cooker (crockpot) recipes. You could be enjoying pot roast, hot beef sandwiches, chili, pulled pork, tons of chicken recipes when you get home.

          I know it stinks to spend your day off work cooking, but even if you do it a couple times a month, you can freeze alot of stuff into meal size portions for yourself, such as a pot of Sunday gravy with meatballs.

        2. I'd do a search on this site and Google for "make ahead meals." There are a lot of good ideas, many that you wouldn't even expect. For example, many egg dishes can be made ahead of time and you can grab and go for breakfast.

          1. I've suggested this before, but I find it really helpful: http://amazon.com/Five-Ingredients-Mi...
            Tasty and fast.

            1. I think many of the best fast dinners involve eggs.

              Scrambled, or in omelettes or a frittata. Mix in your favorite veggies. Serve with a simple tossed salad, crusty bread, and a glass of wine or beer.

              Leftovers?
              I happen to ~like~ cold (room temp) quiche or frittata although I understand others may not.

              1. I worked swing for 25 years and loved every minute of it. I always cooked on my off days and weekends so that I would not worry about food during the week and also in case I had to work overtime.

                My #1 dish is cranberry chicken. get a whole cut up chicken and season it with a bit of garlic powder and onion powder on both sides. Mix one can of whole cranberry sauce, a package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix and a small bottle of french dressing. Put the sauce over the chicken and cook at about 350 for one hour for about a 3.5 lb whole cutup chicken. This reheats well in a microwave and is great over just plain white rice. You can make this before you go to work in a crockpot and it will be perfect when you come home. I always kept a pot of rice made in my house but in a pinch minute rice only takes five minutes.

                I also used to get Tilapia and put it in a baking dish with enough OJ to 1/2 cover the fish, covered it with plastic wrap and cooked it in a microwave for just a few minutes. When the fish is done it will be white and flaky. It steams the fish and adds a bit of flavor as well.

                I also made boneless, skinless chicken breasts seasoned with garlic and onion powder and seasoning salt such as Lawrys. I kept those around for stir fry, sandwich, chicken salad etc. Its good lean food that has a bunch of uses.

                For desert get fruit that you like and cut it up ahead of time so that when you want some fruit it is right there cold in the fridge. Put some lemon juice over it to keep it from browning.

                1. Changing your strategy here is a must. It sounds like you're home for lunch? Any prep you can do in the morning will help.
                  For adding veggies to lunch it can be as simple as taking your favorite sandwich filling and putting it ontop of salad, if needed a pc of toast on the side.
                  Spend time when you have it making freezer meals in individual sizes you can defrost for dinners.

                  This huge thread has a ton of really great ideas for make ahead meals:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/863756

                  1. Fajita's are easy and fast, plus a simple way to get in some veggies. You could splurge and buy some Ribeye for them too, since a little will stretch out a long way.

                    Pick up some Beef or Pork roasts when they are on sale (especially buy one get one free deals) and season them very simply (salt & pepper) then slow roast them in your oven for several hours (on the weekends) until they are fall apart tender. You can use these in a variety of dishes throughout the week - toss part of the pork roast with mexican seasonings and a little oil then throw under the broiler for some carnitas over rice or filling for burritos. Roast beef sandwiches or shred the beef/pork into some tomato sauce and toss with your favorite pasta. You get the idea...

                    I suppose another way of looking at is, is many restaurant recipes are designed to cook up quickly - they're knocking out hundreds of them each evening. Even something a little fancier like a chicken marsala or chicken picatta cooks up in literally minutes, aside from a few minutes of prep.

                    Pizza's aren't necessarily a bad thing either - keep some flatbreads on hand, then all you need to do is brush them with a little olive oil then add your favorite toppings and throw them in a really hot oven for a few minutes. They're another easy way to add veggies.

                    1. thanks for all the help,how ever rice is great it is not a late nite dinner as it doesn't last.I found that pasta is best before work and beans are good for after.If I go to taco bell and have burritos,try not to do that much.Beans tend to make me sleep longer and more sound?.Where veggies and pastas tend to make me stay awake or lack of sleep.I use to put pork chops and scaloped potatoes in oven 30 mins,makes simple and easy.veggies in micro for 2 mins,done.Slow cooker was easy get home at 11:30 put roast in crock pot on low got to bed and wake up to a nice smell and roast sandwiches.Spaghetti is a 3 day deal,I always make too much using beef in ragu sauce thinking of how it freeze's?As single One big bowl makes at least 3 or 4 ,meals and after 2nd or third U get tired of it.Something I noticed and maybe others have is when I have too much red sauce I tend to find I get grumpy.Anyone notice the same?