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Skip the Drive-thru: You Can Make Dinner at Home Just as Quickly!
Yesterday, I went straight from work to the school pick-up line. From there, I did a quick pit-stop at home for gear and snack and proceeded to drive one set of kids to volleyball and then headed straight to a soccer game. As we were headed home at 8pm, I was on the verge of putting in a rapid delivery order at Panera because everyone was cranky and hungry.
Sounds familiar? After a day on the move and heading home well into the evening, it can be super easy to want to throw in the towel and grab take-out. Or, maybe you don’t do the take-out thing, but your family has eaten way more than their fair share of frozen pizza lately?
Now, if it’s been one of those days and that’s all you’ve got energy to do, go for it. Goodness knows I’ve been there plenty of times. But, what I don’t want, is for you to think those are your only options. There are plenty of ways to get REAL food on the table quickly.
Prepare Quick Family Dinners
Going back to last night, in the time it took two kids to shower, I had this pork chop and lo mein dish ready for dinner. (In all fairness, one of those kids is a teenage girl. Which buys me way more time than the mom of say, a 10-year-old boy). But, shower times aside, I had this meal on the table in 20 minutes.
What I really want you to realize is that it can be very quick and simple to feed your family an appealing meal. Even better, you control the ingredients. If you are not used to throwing meals together on the fly, try my lo mein below or this Chicken Artichoke dish. Another great recipe to start with is this Naan BBQ Chicken Pizza. (If fact, you can grab a piece of naan or flat bread, load it with almost any fresh toppings of your choice, heat, and you’ve got a fresh meal in an instant.)
Once you become comfortable with a few basic dishes, you can begin experimenting by making those recipes with different ingredients. Eventually, you will get to the point where you can begin putting meals together using more of a “formula” than an exact recipe.
Again, this Pork Lo Mein is more of a formula that an exact recipe, and you should feel free to customize it to your family’s tastes, the number and size of portions you need, and the ingredients you happen to have in your house at the moment.
Begin cooking the pork chops
I pulled these pork chops out of my freezer the night before, so they were completely thawed when I began cooking. If you do not have anything out yet, you may need to add a bit of time to defrost something. I simply seasoned them using a seasoning salt mix, set them on my griddler , closed the lid, and let them cook for about 12 minutes. If you do not have a gridder, a skillet or cast iron pan works just as well, just be sure to flip half-way through cooking to make sure that both sides are evenly cooked and browned. Keep in mind that you do not need to use pork chops, if you’ve got chicken or beef in the house, go ahead and swap it out for the pork chops.
Meanwhile, while the pork chops are cooking…
Grab a few veggies that you think work well together and begin chopping! This is where you can get creative and customize a meal that is perfectly suited for YOUR family’s tastes! For my meal, I chopped up half of an onion, melted some butter in a skillet, and caramelized the onions.
Next, prepare a package (or however many you need) of ramen noodles according to package directions. Continue to dice veggies (I diced a whole red pepper) while the onions and ramen cook. (The key here is to multitask. As you become more comfortable in the kitchen, you will develop your own flow. You’ll feel like you’re hosting your own cooking show in no time!)
Add your chopped veggies to the skillet, mix with the onions, and cook until soft.
Back to the pork chops….
After the pork chops are cooked through, brush with your favorite marinade. For this meal, teriyaki sauce is an awesome choice. Let the pork chops rest while you put together the rest of the meal.
Drain the ramen noodles and add them to the veggie mix. For presentation and ease of serving, transfer the noodle-veggie mixture to a serving platter. Next, thinly slice the pork chops and place atop the noodle-veggie mixture.
Once you get into the habit of preparing dinner at home, you will be amazed at how quickly you’ll begin formulating your own meals and using recipes for inspiration. Preparing quick, satisfying meals for your family will become second nature!