Hey busy parents! Hey busy single people! Hey lazy-cookers! Hey people who care about kinda-heatlhy eating! Hey people who fit more than one of those categories! Okay, so that would be me (except the single people part). Sooooooo, I'm always ridiculously busy and am always struggling to find a good healthy meal for the kids. Cuz honestly, if it weren't for them, I'd probably just be eating Ramen noodles and pizza rolls every night (yum!). And, then, add on top of that my hatred for cooking and all things involved in prepping to cook. Well, I do have ONE go-to meal that I can rely on and not feel guilty about. Which is good because I spend a large portion of my waking moments with total mom-guilt about everything (real and imagined).
Growing up, my mom was a working-mom, AND, she still cooked us a homemade meal every day. Like, full-blown from scratch Indian food. Ummmmm, I didn't get that gene. So, I always feel like I should be doing more food-wise. Well, now I'm getting to the point of, as long as it's healthy, I'm okay with it. I do a lot of steamed or raw veggies and fruits and stuff like that (for the kids - clearly not for myself....which is why my pants don't fit!). You know why? Not because I'm a health nut, though you would think that. No. But because, hello, no cooking or prep required. Oh, and it's healthy. We eat a lot of avocados in this house!
So, here are my personal requirements of a go-to meal for the kids:
1. It has to be relatively healthy. Like, not raw-vegan-juiced-while-doing-yoga-headstand-healthy, but meets your body's needs and won't make you feel or look like crap.
2. It's as organic as possible. Meaning everything in there is the organic version of the ingredient. This helps make my mom-guilt and citizen-of-this-planet-guilt go away.
3. It's fast, easy, and requires minimal cooking skills. And minimal cleaning up skills.
4. The kids like to eat it. And I will not have to listen to any whining noises when I serve it or be forced to remind them about all the homeless children that would be happy to eat it.
And, here's the meal: Macaroni and Cheese with Peas and Fake Meat Crumbles (like ground beef)
The only thing my kids ever want is mac-and-cheese. This works perfectly for both of us.
Organic macaroni and cheese (cheese from grass-fed cows if possible): My go-to brand is Annie's. No, they're not paying me, but if you know anyone from that company, please let them know they should be. ALSO: VEGANS listen up! Annie's does make a vegan macaroni and "cheese", so if you use that, this whole meal is vegan! GLUTEN ALLERGY PEEPS listen up! Annie's makes a gluten-free mac-n-cheese too! (Dear Annie's, you owe me big. Send me a big fat check!)
Organic frozen peas: Whatever brand.
Fake meat crumbles (you can use real meat of course, and if so, substitute with ground beef from grass-fed cows, but then you're just adding more work and clean up to this recipe, so don't be ridiculous): My go to brand is Beyond Meat, the "beefy" flavor. It is made out of protein from non-GMO peas, and they are insanely good. Plus, they have just as much protein as beef. And it doesn't taste like flavored cardboard like other stuff. (Dear Beyond Meat, you also should be paying me. Just sayin')
Dash of extra virgin olive oil (organic, if possible)
Optional: Organic butter or organic whole milk (from grass-fed cows if possible): Whatever brand
And here's what you do with the ingredients for minimal work:
1. Medium sized sauce pan or pot: Read the directions on the mac-n-cheese box and make the mac and cheese. I add a little butter and milk to make it creamier.
2. Small sauté pan: Put in the dash of olive oil, add a big ole' handful of the beef crumbles, heat on medium. Just heating them up, not "cooking" them since it's not raw meat.
Note: Unless you were foolish enough to use real meat and make this more complicated. If that is the case, omg, cook as you normally would and curse yourself when you're doing all the cleanup and extra work for that.
3. Once the fake meat is heated up and looks good, add in a big ole' handful of frozen peas. Heat that all together til the peas don't look frozen and they're bright green and puffy (don't cook them until the are wrinkly cuz that's just gross).
4. Add the fake meat and peas to the macaroni, mix it up, serve.
5. Pour yourself a glass of wine and pat yourself on the back for being such an awesome cook!
If you followed directions, you should just have a sauté pan and a sauce pan to wash. Oh, and the spoon you used to stir everything. Easy.
So, this meets all their needs: Carbs, veggies, dairy (unless you're vegan), protein
If you're super busy or just plain lazy, I really hope this helps! Now it's your turn! What's your go-to meal when you have no time but want to make a meal? Please share with me below!