Whip up a weeknight meal quicker than you can pick one up.
6:10 p.m.: I pick my daughter up from the dance studio. I haven't had
the chance to go to the supermarket, and last I checked, there was next to
nothing in the fridge. So I'm thinking fast food is the way to go. We drive 10
minutes to a part of town we fondly refer to as "fast-food row."
6:28: Other families must have the same idea, because it takes us eight
minutes to get to the intercom and order our dinner.
6:32: We pay for our food and head home.
6:42: We're home and unpacking dinner.
Total Time: 32 minutes
Total Cost for family of 4: $20 (includes 4 chicken sandwiches, 4 side
salads from the dollar menu, and no drinks).
So now you're thinking "32 minutes? What can I cook in 32 minutes?"
Faster-Than-Takeout Option 1: The Potato Bar
I discovered this awesome weeknight dinner option one day when I decided to
use that 5-pound bag of potatoes sitting in the corner of my kitchen, and I've
never looked back. We do this about every other week. Fitting for a family with
an Irish name, don't you think? Here's my timeline for a potato bar dinner (see
more specifics in the recipe below):
Starting Time: 6:05 p.m.: I threw four potatoes into my
microwave/convection oven and set it to sensor cook for "hard
vegetables." Then I preheated the oven to 400 degrees (I'll explain why
later). I ran to the grocery store while they were cooking and bought a few
items I was missing (shredded, reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese; fat-free sour
cream; and green onions). When I got back, the potatoes were tender and the
oven was preheated. I rubbed a wee bit of canola oil on the outside of each
potato, set them on a baking sheet, and let the outside crisp up a bit in the
oven for 15 minutes.
I opened the bag of cheese, put a spoon into the nonfat sour cream
container, chopped the green onions, and set out the pepper grinder and whipped
butter and less-fat margarine (either has less fat per tablespoon than stick
butter or margarine). I even had time to steam a little broccoli and sautÃ©
some pre-sliced mushrooms, in case anyone wanted to get a little fancy with