Craig Valency, CSCS
Hopefully by now, you’ve found the Fridge Fairy (Easy Eats, part 1) and have lots of tasty, good-for-you meals that last well into the week. But there are still times when you get home and realize that you’re facing a bunch of raw meat, fish, eggs and vegetables. What do you do then? Here are some of my favorite quick meal ideas.
- Sliced apples
- Marinated olives
- Hard salami (gluten and sugar free)
- Baba ghanoush
- Fermented sauerkraut
- Aged cheese (if you eat dairy, Pecorino Romano and Gouda are good choices)
- Fermented pickles
- Marinated anchovies
- Smoked salmon or herring
- Dried Turkish apricots
- Sliced red bell peppers, carrots, celery, and cucumbers
- Macadamia nuts
For dessert, a little 85% dark chocolate and an orange does the trick. Admittedly, the salt content is likely to be high in this ready-made tapas feast. This is not an everyday meal, of course. But once in a while, it hits the spot.
Breakfast for Dinner
You’ve had a long day at the office. When you get home, you realize that you’ve eaten your last bowl of leftover Moroccan meatballs with cauliflower couscous. You are not about to start washing, chopping, or sautéing anything! Instead, scramble some eggs, toss in some bagged baby spinach, bake some bacon, slice a tomato, and have breakfast for dinner.
A Can Opener Will Set You Free
Curry in a Hurry
Wild caught salmon and pole caught skipjack tuna are both high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury and PCBs. They are available pre-cooked in a can. Cook up some frozen organic veggies, curry powder, coconut oil, a squeeze of lemon, salt, pepper, and a can of fish in a frying pan. You can make it with or without leftover cauliflower couscous. It’s surprisingly delicious and really quick to make.
Salad: That is so ’90s!
Salads just aren’t as cool as they used to be. We know now that saturated fat won’t clog your arteries, steak is actually a health food, and cooked vegetables are easier to digest. But there is a special place in my diet for fresh salads. Open a can of skipjack tuna, wild salmon, or my personal favorite, smoked herring. Take out your bag of pre-washed, designer lettuce. Add in some grape or cherry tomatoes. Open a can of artichoke hearts or hearts of palm. Add your marinated Spanish olives, and if you feel like chopping, add a cucumber and some avocado. Minced purple onion gives the salad a little bite. There is no need to make your dressing in a separate bowl. Just add some olive oil to the salad and squeeze some lemon directly on the fish. Add red wine or balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and my secret weapon, cumin. Toss & eat.
Steak & Spinach: The World’s Fastest Dinner
Heat up your cast iron pan until it is almost smoking hot. Melt some butter. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Place them in the pan and don’t touch them until they are seared and easy to move. Flip. Don’t touch for another few minutes. Remove the steaks and set on a plate. While the steaks are resting and the pan is still hot, cook some fresh, bagged baby spinach with some pre-chopped garlic. Once the spinach wilts, add some olive oil. Toss and serve with the steaks.
A Quick Tip
The stealthy tri-tip leads a double life. It’s perfect for the low and slow method in the slow cooker, but it’s also ideal for a quick 35-minute oven roast. Just paint your tri-tip with some Dijon mustard, season it, and add some chopped onions and carrots. Watch an episode of Jeapordy. Realize how little you know. Go back to the kitchen. Slice, serve, and eat.
Salmon in a Pouch
We always keep our freezer stocked with at least half a dozen portions of salmon. Defrost the fish in the fridge the night before. When you get home from work, do not take a shower. Don’t turn on the hypnosis box (TV). Don’t change your clothes. Put each portion of salmon on a piece of parchment paper or foil. Season the salmon with salt, pepper, garlic powder, a slice of lemon, and splash of olive oil. Add some chopped zuchinni, spinach, or other softish veggie of your choice. Fold up and seal the pouch. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Alternatively, you can put the veggies in their own pouch. Use a bag of pre-cut fresh veggies such as broccoli, baby carrots, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower. Season them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Pop them in the oven with the fish.
Now that dinner’s in the oven, go turn on the box. See if there’s any breaking news. Take a shower. Put on your PJs. Return to the kitchen and eat.
Rotisserie Chicken From Your Local Supermarket
Need I say more?
Grass-Fed Hot Dogs
Yes, certain breeds of hot dogs do eat grass. Trader Joe’s carries Applegate organic, grass-fed, all beef hot dogs with nothing scary in the ingredient list. It’s still a processed food, so the salt content might give you a heart attack. I’m not going to pretend that hot dogs, even the healthier ones, should be a frequent food choice. But in a pinch, they’re quick and taste great with mustard and fermented kraut. And it’s always nice when your kids can actually have something that that their friends are eating!
Put. The. Phone. Down!
These strategies will empower you to put the phone down, close the junk drawer, and stop searching for the 50% off pizza delivery coupon. Just make sure that you’re well versed in the grocery shopping survival guide, and you’ll always a quick meal hiding in the fridge.
I know there are more great tips out there. What’s your fastest meal? Hungry readers want to know!