Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flop: Hamburger Helper is Meant for Hamburger!

DD discovered that Hamburger Helper is not a glorified Mac and Cheese dish, unless there is hamburger.  There is a taste of a strong seasoning, probably similar to Accent, which is meant to bring out flavor in the meat.  Not so good, in a non-meat attempt.

For the teen who wants a quick pasta dish, the best recommendation I can make is (drumroll)...plain pasta.  You can cook your pasta, and season it as simply, or as eloquently, as you like.  Some pasta-bilities?

Butter and cheese, tossed in with the drained pasta...any shredded cheese, or Parmesan, will do.  No cheese?  Use some crushed garlic, or even a hint of garlic salt.  MMM!!

Ketchup!  Really!  My aunt would occasionally put ketchup on plain macaroni, and it wasn't terrible.  Yes, it's different.  But if your cupboard is really, really bare, might be worth a shot.

Soy sauce...heat a little olive oil in a fry pan, and stir fry your cooked spaghetti, with just a hint of soy sauce.  Almost as good as chow mein!  Toss in some veggies, for good measure.  My teen loves stir-fried veggies, so this would be well received!

Tomato soup...sounds almost as weird as the ketchup, right?  Not really.  Spaghetti O's remind me more of tomato soup, than of spaghetti.

Chicken stock...a basic chicken noodle, or a hearty version of Top Ramen.

Get creative!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quick Stir Fry

Stir Fry is delicious, but the really nice thing is that it doesn't really require a recipe.  Chop up some veggies, an onion, heat a little oil, add a bit of soy sauce and seasonings (I like white pepper, black pepper, and ground ginger), and you can have a quick, delicious vegetarian dish.  If you have older children, who are capable of cooking, they can learn to do this, as well. 

Try shredding some cabbage, thinly slicing some carrots and celery, and fixing this easy stir fry, next time you are at a loss for something simple.  Make plain white rice (minute rice, if you are pressed for time, but if not, basic white rice is cheaper), and serve your veggies over the rice.

On my busier  days, I often leave the older kids to fix their own quick dinners.  Ages 12 and up are fairly capable in the kitchen in my home.  The younger set, I handle.  Equip your kids in the kitchen, so that they don't grow up as fast food junkies, but rather, as capable cooks, who can whip up something out of seemingly nothing, at a moment's notice. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Quick Deals on The Go

Besides the value menu of the drive through, there's one other handy helper in my small town, when it comes to needing an inexpensive, fast meal while out and about. 

Try Sonic's SMS messaging.  Next time you drive through at your local Sonic, look for, or ask for, the location specific number to text, and enroll in their deal updates.  Many times, my Sonic has sent out a daily deal, perfect for the time of day when I'm shuttling kids to and from sports. 

An alternative to the typical dollar burger, there have been chili-cheese burrito deals, cheap junior sundaes, corn dogs...all kinds of menu options.  Additionally, our Sonic has a weekly Wednesday kids' deal, with Wacky Pack meals at $1.50...that's a sandwich, tots or fries, a snack, and a drink! 

A recent monthly deal also included 50 cent junior cheeseburgers on Thursdays.  Make sure you check with your specific store for special deals, and verify start times...many dinner deals begin at 5 PM.  Don't miss happy hour at Sonic, either!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rotisserie Chicken Tacos

One of my favorite places in Mexico for a quick, fast-food style meal is a "Pollos Rostizados" type of restaurant...basically, rotisserie chicken.  The chicken is split into halves, after being cooked on the rotisserie.  It's served with an assortment of condiments, including chopped onion, chopped cilantro, tomato and lettuce, and limes to squeeze over the top.  Ketchup, and various salsas, are offered, as well, and a huge portion of papas fritas, or French fries.  A huge stack of corn tortillas, and you've got a great meal.  Pull chicken from the bones, fill your tortillas, and Yum!  Bien Rico!

The chicken isn't much different from Kenny Rogers Roasters, if you remember the numerous quantities of chickens on a rotiserrie.  While you don't get that same experience at the grocery store, a rotisserie chicken from the deli section of the store can be served in much the same way.  For the really quick meal solution, just get a chicken, and corn tortillas.  Two rotisserie chickens, a large bag of corn tortillas, and my household of 10 is fed a simple, fast-food style dinner, at much less cost than eating out.