The Take-Out Avoidance Challenge

Friends of the Internet! I need your help. As you probably know, we get the keys to our house in 2 days. While we are STOKED, I am also getting nervous about how we are going to manage to go to work during the day and spend our evenings and weekends fixing up the house without getting scurvy. Anyone who knows me well can tell you that while I love to bake, sew, and clean, my one domestic skill that is lacking is cooking. The entire process has always felt like such a chore to me- deciding what to make for dinner, grocery shopping while hungry, and spending the time to actually prepare it, only to have it not turn out the way I was expecting or taste half as good as some online reviewer made it sound. Our worst-ever home cooked recipe was something called a Tex Mex Skillet that my husband found online, and every time we make something that isn’t super tasty we’re always like “at least it tastes better than the Tex Mex Skillet.”

We have tried to get into the habit of meal planning so that we know in advance what is for supper on most nights of the week, but that assumes that we have the time/energy on the weekends to spend a few hours planning and then grocery shopping, which we often don’t. The summer has been a pretty busy one so far, and too often we take the easy route of fast food or take out. With the coming challenges of the next 2 months, where we will be trying to get the house ready before we have to move out of our apartment, I am worried that we will be visiting Chez MacDonalds, Harvey’s and Wendy’s more than I would like to admit out loud.

So I am hoping that some of you have ideas or suggestions for quick, easy and tasty summertime meals that don’t take a lot of advance planning or strange ingredients that you only buy once and then never use again. I know we have our favourite recipes that we bring out time and time again because they are delicious and easy, but a little variety would be great. I’ll share first!

Here are my go-to quick and easy weeknight meals for the summer:

1)  Grocery store rotisserie chicken: Ok, this is an obvious one, but there are literally tons of things you can do with these, and our local grocery store has them on special on Monday nights- so I know what we’re eating one night of the week, at least! All you need is fresh bread and a side salad, or you can cut it up to use with any recipe that needs cooked chicken.

2) Southwest salad: I discovered this by accident once when I was really craving a buffalo chicken wrap, and noticed that we usually have most of the ingredients (sans wraps) on hand. All you do is cook frozen breaded chicken breast strips, chop them into bite sized pieces, toss with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, and combine with lettuce, tomatoes, whatever other veggies you want, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese and salsa. Ta da! Southwest Salad. Bonus points if you have fresh corn on the cob on hand- slice the kernels off the cob for some added sweetness.

3) Cobb salad: This one does require some advance prep/chopping but the end result is so tasty and worth it, and because it’s chock-full of veggies I tell myself that it’s healthy. Different people have different interpretations of what makes a great Cobb salad, but what we put in ours is: grilled chicken breast, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, avocado, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, grated cheddar cheese, romaine lettuce, and croutons, topped with Ranch dressing (sorry to the purists out there, neither of us like the blue cheese dressing that is traditionally used).

4) Philly Cheese Steak: totally cheating because I have yet to make this, but friends of ours made it for us for dinner one night and it was so tasty. Grilled steak, grilled onions and peppers, fresh rolls, and au jus sauce for dipping. Yum.

Ok, now I’m hungry. More importantly, I feel motivated to get shopping and cooking and do my best to avoid take out! Do you have a favourite 15 min meal or slow cooker recipe to share? Alternatively, if you want to share what your Tex Mex Skillet equivalent is, then I’ll know what to avoid!

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  1. Laura says

    If you’re liking your southwest salad, you might like a good bean salad! I put the following into a bowl, and mix (it’s obviously better if it has time to sit overnight to let all the flavours mix):

    1 can of mixed beans
    1 can of corn
    1 green or red pepper, chopped
    1-2 tomatoes (roma, on the vine)
    1 avocado
    1/2 cup white or purple onion, finely chopped
    1-2 green onions, chopped
    2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
    1 giant handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
    2-3 tsp jarred/pickled jalapeno peppers, chopped
    2 tbsp olive oil
    3 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
    2 tsp cumin
    Frank’s Red hot sauce/Tabasco to taste
    salt and pepper to taste

    You can obviously add more or less cumin, and if you like spicy foods, lay on the hot sauce. This is honestly one of my go-tos when I’m running ragged. It probably takes about 15 minutes or so to prepare, and should last you a few days if you’re eating it alongside other things!

    Good luck!

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