I know not all families feel the pinch quite as badly as I have just painted it but there are times when there seems to be precious little to eat and payday seems to be taking longer and longer to get here so for those eventuallities I have conjured a few recipies out of thin air almost!
Here are a few examples of these.
Sounds delicious doesn't it and it is. Most people have a tin of some kind of fish in their cupboards wether as in this case it is Tuna, Salmon, Tinned Prawns or shrimps, or possibly sardines or pilchards. Although I have never tried the latter with this it may well work quite well.
Garlic either fresh or powdered or even garlick crushed
milk or cream if you still have some
Pasta about 500g
I know most people still have these lurking in the shelving somewhere.
To make you boil pasta,
chop onion garlic and fry these off till onion is opaque, and soft, add tuna or other tinned fish, milk or cream about 1/2 -3/4 pint, salt pepper drain pasta add to tuna mixture.
place in casserole dish and top with cheese grill for a short time until browned lightly you could also add a few breadcrums to the cheese to boost what leftovers you have.
Walla cheap but efficient meal will serve 4.
If you use cream you get better result but milk just makes for a thinner sauce.
Also another favorite of ours is homemade pizza
so easy to make as you need very little ingredients.
Providing you have flour fat and salt and milk for a soft pastry base you need little else
tomatoes can be tinned as I nearly always have these in my cupboard as an emergency item these are a must have
onion garlick to make a salsa sauce by choppin onions and garlick and cooking until soft add tomatoes and fry off until sauce thickens . quick easy salsa sauce.
then make basis by rolling out pastry mixture, (I am not boring you by telling you how to make pastry) taking it as everyone knows that one. By rubbing fat into flour and adding a little milk to soft dough stage yar. Roll out pastry into 2 circles 8" across Then spread salsa over bases add a bit of cheese and anything else you have lying around that would do as a topping and bake in oven at around 200 degrees this is so easy the kids could do it. Till cooked through.
Making a fun tea and a very tasty one at that.
I hope you enjoy just a couple of my ideas for something to eat out of very little in the pantry.
Another is spanish style omelette which if I have eggs I generally have I use up all the odd bits of onion ham cheese tomatoes what ever else I find generally goes in too and make a big frittata style beauty that feeds a hungry crew, in my house quite happily munching on left overs without it seeming that way.
Emergency dinners. I immediately think of the obvious things like beans on toast and cheese toasties, but I suppose these aren't really filling dinners as such. We've all been caught out with not much to eat when we can't get to the shops, and have to make do with what we can rustle up. In our house it's always been called 'ifits' because 'if it's there eat it'. For us, this normally consists of something like chips made from the couple of potatoes at the back of the cupboard. Or maybe a bowl of egg fried rice, with whatever sauce type thing we can find to go with it. It's just typical that on a day when you need to make do, you can find lots of sandwich/toastie fillings but have no bread. I think the key to this is cans. You may be laughing but things in cans have such a long use by date that they're a pretty good bet. Other than that it's always a good idea to keep some bread or rolls in the freezer.
Of course the other way to interpret emergency dinners is to understand that it means quick meals rather than meals from few ingredients. In this case, there are plenty of things that only take 10 minutes or so. Pasta is one of the easiest and quickest meals ever, and is also very filling and cheap. Plus there are so many variations by using different types of sauces or toppings, and you can pretty much leave it to cook once you've got it simmering. Simples. Another quick meal is soup, although it's not quite as filling, but can be bulked out with bread or lots of croutons.
And then finally, there are ready meals, but they are a kind of obvious choice for emergency meals and are self explanatory.
So that's my idea of emergency dinners. Ifits.
We have all been there, late night after work, forgotten to pick up vital items from the shops, or just too tired to cook something more substantial. What dishes can easily be pulled together to make it look like you have gone to a little bit of effort!
First off I think it is important to list some essentials that every home needs for emergency dinners:
Tins, tins and more tins, yes tins in every form baked beans, condensed soup, tuna, sweetcorn, the cans keep for years and are always useful in creating a hearty meal. Never forget tinned tomatoes or passata can always help create a nutritious meal quickly.
Flavourings and sauces - a basic spice collection find a few that you find keep popping up in recipes I keep curry powder, turmeric, garam masala and not much else. Other useful sauces include sweet chilli, Worcester sauce, tomato ketchup, tomato puree, can all give added oomph to a dish. Any jars of lazy garlic and chilli are always welcome.
Herbs - keep a few potted herb plants around your garden/ kitchen, they're cheap and fresh and a lot more cost effective than buying packs of fresh herbs. I have found basil particularly easy to keep in a small pot.
My little helper in the kitchen - I picked up a Black and Decker mini chopper in a charity shop for about £3, and I use it to chop my onions, chilli, garlic and herbs. You can pick a Kenwood one up on Amazon for no more than £15, and has saved not only my time, but my eyes from the onions!
Then my theory anything left in the fridge/ cupboard is good to throw in to just about anything. I am no proficient cook, but have learnt to produce quick meals over the past few years as a medical student. I have tried to include a few snack items, along with dinners and most importantly (for me anyway) desserts.
Just a little bit peckish and want a quick snack? Friends coming over to watch a movie? Don't worry you can make your own snacks at home equally as good as the cinema, or corner shop.
Nachos - my favourite for curling up and watching a film with, I may have my own popcorn maker but nothing can compete with the mighty nacho. Nachos can be purchased in a big value pack from Tescos for about 30p in a ready salted flavour. To make simply spread on a heatproof plate, add some salsa, you can either make your own or use a jar (I've always been naughty and used the jar), and add grated cheese, place in the oven at about 180 until the cheese melts. To spice up the nachos add a few jalapenos, or for something more filling add some cooked chicken. Those that have not been covered in salsa can also be dipped in some guacamole or other dips.
Wedges - Another great snack to share with friends, and the main things you need is some potatoes, oil and an oven. Cut potatoes you would use for jackets or chipping, and cut into wedge shapes, you can choose to remove the skins if you want. Add enough oil to coat the wedges and add some herbs, cajun spice or any other flavourings you choose, spread out on a baking tray. Cook at 180 degree for twenty to thirty minutes, or until crispy on the outside and piping hot on the inside.
Mezze/ Tapas - Yes this is a bit of a free for all of snacky foods, however I personally find it one of my favourite dinners to share with friends. I like to include a bit of everything, warm and crusty baguettes along with various spreads including cream cheese, pate, along with other salads and cold cheeses and meats. Dips and crudites are easy to make and quick to share, cut pieces of celery, cucumber and carrot, and serve with dips - more salsa? The wedges, nachos and pizzas all fit nicely into this 'meal'. I normally share this with a few friends and we each agree to bring or make one component. Not so much of an emergency, but between us we normally have all the ingredients to make each of the components.
Pizza - Even with the buy one get one free deals, Papa Johns and Dominos can totally blow my budget for the week. All that is needed is a base, tomato sauce, and some cheese and other toppings.
Bases- there are loads of options that I have tried and work well crumpets, sliced ciabatta, bagels, naan bread, tortilla and my favourite English muffins.
Sauce - All is required is some passata, a little bit of salt to flavour, ketchup and some mixed herbs to spread on your base. If you want to turn the heat up simply add some chopped chillis from a jar.
Cheese and toppings - Grated mozzerella is great, but cheddar is very good too! Then find any store cupboard goodies to throw on top of your pizza. Pile on top and grill in the oven until the cheese melts.
You can even theme your pizza - an Indian pizza with tikka chicken, chilli tomato sauce on a naan bread base or a Mexican pizza on a tortilla base with jalapenos, peppers and chicken.
Things on toast - The ultimate in emergency dinners. Some toast and a can of beans or spaghetti, can easily provide a fulfilling meal. Dinners can easily be switched around by flavouring beans with curry powder or Worcester sauce.
If a snack is not substantial enough and you want something a bit more filling, then here are some fall back recipes that always impress friends.
Fresh pasta with cherry tomatoes - The oven roasted cherry tomatoes are the star of this dish. Simply halve a small bag of cherry tomatoes and lay on an oven tray, drizzle with olive oil and pop in the oven for half an hour on 180, watch the tomatoes don't burn though. In the mean time cook some spaghetti, and fry a couple of diced garlic cloves in olive oil, and lightly heat through some prawns. When cooked add the spaghetti to the pan along with the tomatoes, gently mix through and add a handful of fresh basil leaves, serve with parmesan shavings. The simplicity of this dish relies on good quality ingredients but is really flavoursome, and fresh tasting.
Pasta bake - another easy to bake, easy to forget about dish. Weigh out the desired amount of penne pasta for four, and coat in a tin of condensed soup, along with another cans worth of water. Add any other items to make the pasta bake more interesting, cooked meats, canned tuna and sweetcorns, bake in the oven at 180 for twenty minutes, for a crispy top, add some crushed crisps and cheese and return to the oven for another twenty minutes.
Speedy spag bol - This is the easiest recipe for spaghetti bolognaise I know, with an added twist. For four sweat off a small onion, with a couple of garlic cloves, brown the mince, and add Sainsbury's tomato and chilli pasta sauce. This gives the spaghetti bolognaise added flavour and a warm heat, I also like to add a little red wine (optional) to give a really rich bolognaise sauce.
Makhata - A chicken makhata is a mild curry and a recipe I adapted from the internet. If you really want to cheat use microwave rice, or use the normal boil in the pan rice, put it in at the start, and the dish should be finished by the time the rice is ready.
For two, dice a small red onion, one medium chilli and two cloves of garlic, and fry until the onions are a nice golden brown colour, add a diced pepper and allow it to soften. Then add a can of chopped tomatoes and 200 ml of chicken stock before bringing to the boil, allow to simmer for five minutes. Then add one pack of tikka sliced chicken (from the sandwich aisle), a tablespoon of tomato puree and a teaspoon of garam masala spice and a small handful of ground almonds. Heat through. Serve with the rice, along with natural yoghurt and fresh corriander.
Sausage Casserole - This is a real winter warmer, not a looker but tastes great. Either use two cooked sausages per person, or a cooked Matteson sausage between three. For three, again start by dicing an red onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, allow all to brown in the pan, dice and add one pepper and allow it to soften. Then add a can of chopped tomatoes and a can of baked beans, along with a tablespoon each of tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce, and a crumbled vegetable stock cube. Bring to the boil, and keep stirring, add the cooked sausage, serve with crispy bread when the whole casserole is piping hot.
Who doesn't love a good pudding, they can be made quickly and easily too, with some things that you may have lying around the kitchen.
Ice Cream Sundae - This is a favourite when I'm entertaining. All you really need is a big tub of vanilla ice cream. Quickly prepare some chopped fruits, get a hold of some sweets, chocolate buttons, sprinkles. To make a rich mars bar sauce, melt a couple of mars bars with some cream for a calorific treat.
Eton Mess - I love this in summer, lightly whip some Elmlea cream with a small amount of caster sugar, you don't want this too firm. Lightly crush some meringue nests, add whatever chopped fruit is in season and fold through. My personal favourite at the moment is peach melba, the tartness in the peach and the raspberry cuts through the sweet cream and meringue combination.
Choc Muffin Surprise - Another indulgent snack, take one double chocolate muffin, carefully slice off the top and scoop out the middle, in its place fill with ice cream of your choice, put the top back on, and place in the microwave for no more than thirty seconds. This results in a warm chocolately pudding with a gooey centre!
Wow - that was a bit longer than I thought it was going to be, I hope this gives you some ideas for cutting corners for dinners, or trying dishes that you wouldn't have considered making before.
I am a student and also work part time, so most of the spare time i do have is spent studying or socialising so i don't take a huge amount of time in preparing meals and opt for quick and easy food, such as:
1. Cheese Toasties
I usually have this when i want something stodgy and filling.
thick slice of cheese
2 x slices bread
half a small onion
I simply place the cheese inbetween the bread and sprinkle the onion on top. I then put it into the sandwich grill for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is completely melted.
2. Actifry Chips
I love my actifry! It's so quick and easy and produces such high quality chips within 20 minutes or so.
1 large potato
1 teaspoon oil
Sprinkle of salt
Cut potato into slices and put into the actifry. Sprinkle oil evenly and turn on actify, set timer to 18 minutes and wait until timer goes off. Check chips are cooked thoroughly and put onto a plate. Sprinkle small amount of salt evenly and add blob of ketchup onto the side of the plate for dipping.
I'm sure everyone has heard of these, my favourite flavour is the chicken ones. Prep time is around 5/6 minutes.
4. Beans on toast
Very simple and quick meal; half a tin of heinz beans, 1 slice bread. Prep time around 5-6 mins and it's very filling and tasty.
5. A tin of soup
Mainly chicken or vegetable, and i like the Heinz brand of soup best. Prep time 3-4 minutes.
6. Fruit salad
If i'm not hungry i usually just chop up a banana and a bit of pineapple and munch on that. Prep time depends on if the pineapple has been pre-cut as it does take a while to cut pineapple up.
- Chinese, favourite dish Salt and Chilli prawns. (battered king prawns)
- Pizza, favourite flavour al pino.
- Fish and Chips (very rare though due to having an actifry), i usually have a small portion.
- McDonalds saver menu chicken burger and chips
8. Microwave meals
- Weightwatchers curry/lasagne
- Fish pie
- Microwaveable wraps
9. Stuff from the deli counter at tesco/sainsburys
- Pre cooked chicken legs
My husband and I both work full time and dinner can sometimes be a real chore. We do cheat quite frequently. I try to do a lot of slow cooking during the winter but stews and casseroles are never so appealing during the summer. We have a few back up plans for dinner on our lazy days:
Soup - We always have soup in the cupboard of various flavours. The 'big soups' are great for emergency dinners. Generally we would have tomato, vegetable or a 'big soup' of some variety.
Beans on Toast - Another great emergency dinner. It's cheap, easy to prepare and has a good amount of nutritional benefits.
Poached Eggs or Scrambled Eggs - I love eggs! They are so versatile and just taste fantastic. I'm lucky that my husband is very good at cooking a variety of different eggs. Me on the other hand...well I'm useless at cooking eggs. It is so quick to make and again there are some good nutritional benefits.
Pasta and Pesto - Pesto is a fantastic ingredient to keep in your cupboards! This dinner tastes great and will be ready in 10 minutes - or as long as the pasta takes. I personally prefer the red pesto. For a quick and easy solution, cook some pasta, drain the pasta, stir in a couple of spoons of pesto and grate a little cheese over the top. I do sometimes fancy this meal up by adding bacon or chicken or mushrooms or a bit of crème fresh to make it creamy.
Sandwiches - I am a real sucker for sandwiches. I love eating sandwiches and the different fillings you can put in them. Emergency dinner sandwiches are usually cheese, egg or ham and mustard.
Curry and Rice - Tinned beef curry and Uncle Bens express rice. This is the quickest and easiest meal to make but it's not really one of my favourites. The curry takes about 5 minutes in total to heat up on the hob and the rice takes 2 minutes in the microwave.
Ready meals - I keep a couple of ready meals in the freezer, mainly for myself to eat when my husband has to work away, but we do occasionally have ready meals for dinner as well. Most meals can go in the microwave for about 8-10 minutes. Another no hassle dinner!
Take away - When all else fails, we order in. Food can then be delivered straight to our door! This is a last resort due to the expense and how unhealthy take away can become.
Admittedly, most of the above is not very healthy but some days after a long day at work, cooking is the last thing I want to think about.
Emergency dinners are not needed very often in our house as there is only the two of us (myself and my fiancé) but with us both working full time and different hours I do try and have items in the fridge/freezer/cupboards that can be rustled up quickly.
1. Beans on Toast - this is our household favourite as a quick emergency dinner, you can almost certainly find a tin of good old baked beans in the cupboard and even if the bread is a little stale then as long as the mould has not yet appeared then it will do for toast.
2. Tomato soup - my fiancé loves tomato soup and with his cooking skills not being the best there is normally a tin in the cupboard or a fresh carton in the fridge. Warmed up and served with some buttery toast or bread is another quick fix.
3. Pizza - again there is normally one of these in the freezer so thrown in the oven with something equally as unhealthy like chips with it provides an almost instant dinner minus the cooking time. Alternatively if I have a pack of the new Warburton's sandwich thins they make excellent pizza bases simply lightly toasted then topped with some tinned tomatoes, cheese, ham and mushrooms (or whatever toppings you have available) then popped under the grill for a few mins.
4. Pasta Bake - I keep two or three jars of this in the cupboard then it's simple a case of boiling some pasta, mixing it with the sauce in an oven proof dish and warming it through for a few mins.
5. Panini or Toasted sandwich - we have both a toasted sandwich and a Panini press so with a bit of bread or Panini rolls and whatever fillings can be found lying around then this provides another quick meal or snack.
6. Jacket Potato - When I buy potato's I look for the packs that contain the biggest ones as I simply refuse to pay twice the price for 'baking potatoes' they are the same thing! Also I do prefer my jacket potatoes cooked in the oven to get a crispy outside skin but if in a hurry a few mins in the microwave then covered with some hot baked beans and cheese make a fast meal.
7. Takeaway - usually the last resort due to being unhealthy and expensive but if needs must and there is really nothing at all to rustle up and our energy levels are completely zapped after a hectic day then its round the corner or on the telephone for a takeaway. We usually op for the chip-shop or Chinese but having half a dozen takeaways practically at the end of the street then there is more than enough choice not matter what we fancy.
So there you have it my emergency dinners!
I'm not one of those people who really plans my meals out, this means that there will be days when I get home tired and find very little food in the house for dinner. This invariably happens on the days when I am tired and hungry so I like to have a few ideas of meals which can be cooked and served quickly.
1 My favourite option is to head round the corner to the chippy. I don't like chips but my local does amazing pizza, it's bad when Marco the pizza chef knows my order off by heart. A 12 inch pizza with onion, mushroom, peppers and fresh tomato slices (Marco has even ran to the co-op to buy fresh veg for me before) with a side order of potato fritters costs around £6. Add in a couple of cans of juice and a bag of salad from the co-op so I don't feel so guilty about eating crap and it's the best part of a tenner for a meal for me and my daughter so not something I can afford to do very often.
2 Creamy mushroom pasta.
Take either a clove of fresh garlic or a teaspoon of fresh garlic and fry with fry light low calorie spray. Add a punnet of sliced mushrooms and fry until browned. Add a mug of vegetable stock and simmer until there is a little bit of liquid left and then stir in a tub of Philadelphia or similar cream cheese and stir until it melts. Serve over pasta of your choice and with a side salad. I buy Philadelphia when it is on special offer and it keeps for months unopened in the fridge and then I just need to buy fresh mushrooms from the co-op for about £1.
3 Tomato Pasta
Take a chopped onion and a little bit of garlic and fry with fry light with a teaspoon of Italian herbs. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and simmer for around 20 mins. Add any other veg like mushrooms and peppers or Linda Mcartny veggie sausages cut into chunks for meatballs. Serve with spaghetti and sprinkle grated cheese on top.
4 Pizza Toast
Take some pasta sauce and zap it in a cup in the microwave for a minute or so. Spread over hot buttered toast and sprinkle with grated cheese. Add any finely cooked veg like onions or peppers and stick under a medium grill till the cheese bubbles.
I cannot make a proper omelette but my broken up version still tastes ok.
My favourite fillings are a mix of fried tomato, onion and mushroom and then I chuck the beaten egg on top and try not to make too much of a mess. My daughter likes chopped chicken as a filling so I heat the meat up first before pouring beaten egg over it.
A nice variation is to make some stir fry, chuck in some sesame oil and Chinese 5 spice and then add the beaten egg and then stir. Egg Fu Yung in an instant!
Serve with oven chips or rice.
6 Quick Bean Chilli
Chuck a can of mixed bean salad and a can of tomatoes into a pan with some chilli powder. Add any veg like onion, garlic, carrot, mushrooms, peppers etc and simmer for about 1/2 an hour. Serve with a microwave baked potato and some grated cheese.
7 Chicken Soup
I boil the bones from aroast chicken up in a pressure cooker to get lovely fresh stock and then dilute it with a stock cube. The stock keeps for a few days in fridge or can be frozen and tastes far nicer than store bought stuff and is full of calcium.
To make chicken noodle soup simmer some stock and leftover chicken with some chopped spring onion and a pinch of 5 spice for a few minutes. Add some fine noodles and eat when noddles are soft.
For chicken and sweetcorn soup simmer the stock with chicken chunks and some canned sweetcorn. Take a little of the liquid and mix with a little bit cornflour and add to pan to thicken. Stir through some beaten egg trickling it in slowly and stirring just before serving. I now refuse to pay £2+ for chicken soup from the Chinese as I see how cheap the ingredients are and how little effort goes into making it.
All of those meals are quick and cheap to make. You do need to plan a bit and make sure you have herbs and spices and cans of tomatoes in the house and for me the co-op is around the corner so I can buy fresh veg. My daughter needs to eat a low sodium diet because of kidney disease so ready meals are out for us, the only foods from the above recipes she has to limit is the cheese.
Usually when I'm in a hurry I put a pizza in or make this little dish.
First cook as much pasta as you need according to packet instructions until soft
Whilst leaving the pasta to cook slice some cheese into fine cubes, a few handfuls depending on how much pasta you would like. (I use cheddar cheese and a little bit of Red Leicester)
Once your pasta is cooked, drain and place back into pan, add the cheese and about a mug full of milk, a tsp full of tomato puree, some black pepper and a big sprinkle of paprika and cook on a medium heat until the cheese melts then add 1tbsp flour - plain or self raising then cook until thickened.
This is my favourite dish as its so quick and so delicious, I add paprika to everything as it gives a good taste and I like tomato puree as it gives a twist, I always have paprika in the cupboard and pasta (I use fusilli). I love this meal! It takes about 10-15 mins and about 1/4 tsp of garlic puree can be added for a twist, as I'm a vegetarian I sometimes add quorn bacon but you could fry some bacon and add it in if you wish! Also, if you have extra time then put it in an oven proof dish, top with grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper and bake in a hot oven for approx. 10 mins until crispy on top! Yum!
My emergency meal has become spaghetti carbonnara and I do not mean the kind that comes from a jar.
All you need is tagliattelle pasta (thats the kind thats like long spaghetti but flatter) it comes in balls for 2 of us I drop in about 10 balls as we like this dish put less or more in depending on what your family can manage. I put that in a saucepan with boling water then get cracking on the rest.
Next up pancetta or bacon bits which you can buy from the supermarket 100g approx for 2 people or add more if you like more meat. Fry this in a tablespoon of butter till its cooked. Put to one side.
Next up break 3 eggs and save the yolks whisk in 50g of parmesan cheese I buy the grated one from supermaket you could buy it and grate it yourself but this is emergency meals so quicker is better.
Next up drain your pasta put it in the pan with your pancetta then pour over your egg and parmesan sauce and stir in. Pop on your plate sprinkle over some more parmesan and dada your done.
It takes all of 10 minutes and is simply delicious. It has become my number one emergency meal and its quicker than ordering a take out.
5 stars simply delicious
This is not only my default emergency meal, but also my favourite comfort food, and great before a night out. I usually make it when I'm tired for an average meal. These are ingredients I usually have in my house, or that I can get from my corner shop. It's a relatively cheap meal, though the parmesan cheese is a bit of a luxury. You can make it healthier by using wholemeal pasta and lowfat cheese and butter, but I like it like this!
PASTA WITH PEAS AND MUSHROOMS.
Total time inc prep - 15 minutes.
***You will need***
Pasta (2 handfuls per person)
Mushrooms (one of those punnets is sufficient for 2 people)
Parmesan cheese (I like lots. I've tried other cheeses, it's not the same)
Peas (frozen, lots)
Butter or olive oil.
2 or 3 cloves of garlic.
Place pasta in boiling water and cook as per instructions on packet.
Chop garlic and place in a bit of oil/butter in a frying pan. Chop the mushrooms (I like to do them in rough chunks to make it feel more substantial) and add to the pan.
While this is cooking, grate a big mound of parmesan.
When the pasta is about 5 minutes from ready, add the peas.
Drain the pasta and peas and put back into original pan. Add the mushrooms and garlic and stir. Add the butter or oil and stir again, finally, throw on the parmesan and stir in, leaving a little left over to sprinkle on top.
Serve and tuck in.
If you are naughty like me, you can have a bit of tomato ketchup to hand, though this is HIGHLY disapproved of in my Mum's house.
Being a busy mother of four I often have lots of different things to organise and attend on a day to day basis. This means that sometimes I end up forgetting to do some essential food shopping and have to rely on a few fail safe 'emergency' dinners. These are the emergency dinners that I tend to use:
Something on toast: Whether it's beans, spaghetti or something similar my children are happy enough to have their favourite TV character or something similar shaped and covered in tomato sauce. These are nice easy meals as I can make two peoples dinner in about four minutes and if we have had a late/busy day then the children aren't going to bed totally stuffed full of food.
Nachos: While this is not particularly healthy it's cheap and easy to make. Just get some value tortilla chips, add some salsa and then top with cheese & microwave for around 45 seconds. These are so simple to make and they are nice and tasty. The only downside is the amount of salt in these so this is normally an emergency meal for me & my husband as I don't want to pump my children full of salt at such young ages.
Roast Dinner: You might be thinking 'what?' but I always have some chops or some meat in the freezer and even if we are short of potatoes I always have lots of veggies left to use up and this is a fantastic way to do it. I just have to throw all the veggies in the steamer and the chicken or chops in the oven and in two hours we will have a nice meal. This is especially useful if we are nipping out in the morning as I can leave the meat to slow roast and then just serve it up when we return, usually knackered.
Ready Meals: It's a bit of a no brainer really but I can just pick up a few ready meals with the shopping and then if I get caught short I know that there is always something in the freezer that the children aren't going to turn their nose up at. I usually cook up a nice half a plate of vegetables and then split one large meal between 2 or 3 children as this is usually enough to fill them up at dinner time without breaking the bank or giving them too much rubbish to eat.
There are all sorts of reasons why people end up using emergency dinners and mine is normally that I've not had time to get the bus all the way to the other side of town and then get a taxi back. I don't like to take the children and drag them around the supermarket as I don't want to give them the potential to show off and the supermarket is the only place that seems to bring out the naughty child in them. I am sure I will continue to use my emergency dinners in the future and hope that someone takes something useful from them although I think that most of these are ones that most people know already.
I have to say my favourite emergency meal is a pizza take away, it is quick simple and no washing up. If we get in late and need to make dinners for the next day we can be making them whilst waiting for it to arrive. It arrives in a cardboard box that can be recycled so is also good for the environment.
But this can get expensive so I try and have some pizzas in the freezer, we like dr oetker ones but we buy the mozzarella and add things so it doesn't really work out a lot cheaper than take away. So I only buy them when they are on offer (mainly at spar) at £1.50 each. That way it is a nice emergency treat.
As we all know having pizza 3 or 4 times a week isn't really healthy so I try to be organised. It isn't easy as my husband gets in at 6.15 or 6.45pm and my eldest daughter has dancing which means on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I don't get back with her till 6.30ish.
So my emergency dinners really depend on what I have in the cupboards or freezer.
So I really have a few emergency meals -
I find jacket potato is a nice easy meal that I can put in the oven before taking her dancing on a Thursday, I can then pop back whilst she is dancing to grate some cheese and open a tin of beans. This is also quite a cheap and healthy meal, you have you protein from cheese, fibre from the potato skin, carbs from the potato and iron from the beans.
I find pasta is always a quick and easy meal to make with a run through sauce, I always have these two things in as when my eldest daughter isn't busy I can acquire dinner guests. When this happens my husband and I usually eat later. My daughter and all her friends seem to love this sometimes they have just the pasta and sauce but othertimes I throw in some frozen peas (as I have these in the freezer a lot) or some sweetcorn. If they are really lucky and I have some quorn frankfurters in I chop a couple of these up and boil them up with the pasta. They love it and it is quite a healthy meal.
You can do lots of things with pasta so it is always a good thing to have in your cupboard as is a tin of beans. My husband and I find this next thing a bit boring but our daughters love it cook your pasta in one pan, tin of beans in another, once they are cooked mix them all together dish it up and add a bit of grated cheese to the top. Mega cheap and quite healthy too and a drink of milk or fresh orange and hey healthier still.
Now when the cupboards and freezer are quite bare I am often heard saying I will cobble something together which is quite easy for the children as quorn sausages or fishfingers are nearly always in my freezer and bags of microwavable steam veg so I tend to cook them this and add any potato thing I might have whether it be new potatoes, croquets or some kinds of potato stars or smiley faces (which they love as I don't buy them very often). For us adults it normally ends up being sausage on toast.
So really if you are in a rush it is good to have pasta in, if you don't like pasta keep some beans in for beans on toast.
I am not much of a cook but I sometimes like to experiment with different food combinations. In my freezer, you will find some ready meals and easy to prepare packets of food. You may also find some fresh ingredients in the fridge and also some packet stuff in my cupboards.
I like to make dinners that are extremely simple and quick to prepare and that require very little effort. One of my favourites is Spicy Tuna Pasta. Now this may seem like just a normal plain pasta dish but it isn't. I have adapted it to suit different tastes.
This is incredibly easy to prepare.
Ingredients you need are :
Pasta - I personally use a 500g bag of fusilli and this is enough for me and my partner and to have some left over. I will base the quantity of ingredients on 500g.
2 average size tins of tuna - I personally use the tuna flakes as they are easier to mix. This doesn't have to be brand specific.
Salad cream or mayonaise - this is down to personal choice and depends on whether you like the creaminess of mayo or the tanginess of salad cream.
Peppers - regular size or pre prepared. I personally buy the 3 mixed pack from Asda which has the red, yellow and green pepper. This is an optional extra and not something I always use but it gives it some colour.
Paprika - I use the little jar of paprika powder from Asda
Cook your pasta by the packs guidelines.
Whilst your pasta is cooking, find a large bowl and get all your ingredients out.
Drain the oil from your tuna and empty in your bowl. Add your mayo or salad cream to your taste.
Cut up your peppers into small cubes and add to the bowl.
Once your pasta is cooked, drain and pour in your bowl mixing as you go. Add more salad cream or mayo if you feel the mix is a bit dry.
Sprinkle your parprika powder to your taste and mix.
Dish up and serve.
Preparation time is approx 15mins in total.
You can also prepare this for a cold buffet. Basically just cook your pasta and allow to cool in one bowl and make up your ingredients fresh or pre prepared in another bowl. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge until required.
I usually do this once a week as it so simple and makes a delicious dinner or lunch. Normally, we have ours hot with some garlic bread or side salad. Tonight we are having this cold and it delicious. I don't add peppers very often as it is not something I go out of my way to go by at Asda but I always have the other ingredients in. I mix ours with salad cream as I am not keen on mayo and never usually buy it. I tend to use quite a bit of salad cream for more flavouring.
The ingredients combined together make a filling meal and you can add extra paprika if you wish and I do. I gives it a nice spicy kick.
You can prepare this quickly and pretty cheap as you can use cheaper pasta and tuna etc. 500g of pasta gives 2 huge portions and enough left over to be chilled. If possible, use it the next day at the latest otherwise it starts to go weird!
Overall I love this pasta dish and would recommend you try it.
My emergency dinner of choice is a Mexican. Its just so simple and quick, so if im starving hungry I know I'm going to have a yummy meal within 15 minutes.
I dice a chicken breast, or lets be honest I get some kitchen scissors and cut the chicken into small chunks.
I then add a tiny bit of oil in a frying pan then add the chicken.
After around 5 minutes I add peppers all in slices, and small bits of onion.
I then sprinkle on fajita mix, I have a massive tub which I bought for around £5 in Costco. It has a different flavour to Costco, but just as yummy!
I heat tortillas in microwave for 20 seconds.
On the table goes shredded lettuce, jalepenos, salsa and cheese.
Cook Uncle Bens Mexican Rice in Microwave for 2 minutes.
I have a Mexican feast.
Instead of chicken, but some mince, cook till browned,
Cut up peppers and onion into tiny squares
Pour over some water, so the water is just above the mince.
Add fajita mix all over let the water absorb it all and mix it all up.
Let it cook for 30 minutes, you may need to adjust heat so absorbs water (you don't want it running down your chin!)
Cook tacos for 4 minutes in oven, or fajitas?
Another Mexican beauty.
Mexican food is lovely, and you can control how spicy it is. Makes a fun feast for the family, and I've been a student, its very easy to cook.
Its also a very cheap dinner to make, a tub of fajita powder will last you months, maybe even over a year. You then need 1 onion 1 pepper, chicken and tortillas, around £5 for 4 people.
Not being much of a cook personally my emergency dinners used to be tke outs as they were obviously quick and easy.
Sice having my daughter (now 8months), I have been venturing out to see friends and family more to pass the time and to keep her occupied and have been amazed about how the foods that I thought took ages to prepare are so quick and so simple.
Now I have a range of meals at hand to cook up if needs be.
My favourite has got to be a Pie, now some of you reading this may think that I am a bit soft but to be honest, I am 22 years old with two children and still do not know how to cook the simplest of meals! When I was younger my Mum was never around to cook so everynight it would be a different kind of take out and I never leared how to cook because there was never anyone to learn off.
Now I am a dab hand at making a pan of mince, rolling out a bit off puff pastry, throwing it in the oven and pulling out something that I can only describe as a masterpiece!! (Bit of an exaggeration but everytime I do it, I still can't believe that I made it!!)
Uses one packet of Puff Pastry (or your own pastry if you are clever enough to know how to make it) and the filling of your choice, gas mark 5 for 20 mins and youre all done!
Half an hour tops and makes an amazing meal with whatever you want to put with it, mash, chips, veg........
If I don't have any mince in the fridge or freezer, then whatever I have in
the cupboard, a tim of stewing steak, a tin of mince, whatever you fancy.
Next......Liver and Mash, Watch this space..................