I am dedicating this post to co-workers at my office. Often when I am in the lunch room heating up my lunch I am asked what I brought because it smells and looks good. I share with my co-workers that I try to plan and pre-make my meals. If not the entire meal, at least the proteins and then it is a quick rummage through the well stocked pantry to make my lunch for the day. I was asked by a co-worker, our AMAZING Training Administrator, if I gave cooking lessons. I laughed and said I would like to but I have the best job ever already.
I thought about this request and the need we all have to eat well, nutritiously and on a budget. I told my co-worker that when I prepare my meals for this week, I would take time to blog it and do my best to show the steps.
Some tips for your pantry to remember:
- Buy proteins on sale.
- Stock your pantry with sauces, pastas, beans, rice.
- Keep fresh, canned or frozen veggies on hand.
- Canned crushed tomatoes and canned petite diced tomatoes.
- ALWAYS keep beef, chicken and vegetable broths on hand.
- Chili seasonings, gravy mixes, herbs and spices.
- Salt, pepper, garlic powder are basics.
I would show you my pantry…but then I would need to organize it and I would not have time to blog.
Here we go, I made these four lunches in about 1 1/2 hours, plus I have one chicken breast left over to make a couple of quick dinners for my husband and me after work this week.
This is Teriyaki Chicken With Cabbage. I use cabbage because it is more filling and healthy than white rice and fewer carbs. Just pop it in the microwave until it is hot about 1 minute on high.
This is Chicken Parmesan with egg noodles and sauteed Kale with Bacon. Again I am using a veggie to fill me up and less noodles. Microwave 1 minute on high.
Barbecue Chicken With Sauteed Kale and Bacon with tomatoes. Use your favorite sauce, I like Famous Dave’s. Microwave 1 minute on high.
Buffalo Chicken with Baked Parmesan Cauliflower and a side of Cucumber and tomatoes with Blu Cheese Dressing. Heat chicken and cauliflower in the Microwave 1 minute on high.
Here is how I made these four meals and more in 1 1/2 hours.
I bought split chicken breasts on sale at Basha’s grocery store for 89 cents a pound. This gave me 4 nice size breast for just over 4 dollars.
I put the chicken skin side up on my baking pan added salt and pepper to the chicken and baked it at 375 degrees Fahrenheit uncovered for one hour.
During the hour the chicken was cooking I prepared my sides. I chopped the cabbage, and boiled some noodles, sliced my tomatoes, cucumbers and green onions. I prepared the cauliflower to go into the oven as soon as the chicken came out.
- My prep for the Cauliflower was to break off the florets and then slice florets into three slices. Toss the slices with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. When the chicken comes out of the oven put the cauliflower in the oven to bake for about 30 minutes.
I want to show how to make the Sauteed Kale and Bacon.
Wash the fresh kale or you could use frozen. I bought this at my local produce store for 69 cents.
Cut out the middle stem and then chop the kale into small pieces.
While you are getting the Kale ready begin cooking your bacon and onions in a skillet, this is a 9 inch skillet.
When you have the kale chopped and ready put it on top of the onions and bacon wait a minute before you begin stirring. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder not too much salt as the bacon will be salty.
When the kale turns bright green and is just tender it is done, about 5 minutes.
The chicken is done!
Take the chicken off the pan and place on a plate to cool. See the chicken drippings on the pan? After you remove the chicken off the pan, put about a cup of hot water in this pan and begin to scrape the drippings on the bottom of the pan. Save this aside, I will show you what to do with it in a moment.
This is the chicken breasts on the plate. After it has cooled enough to handle I took the skin off and took the breasts off the bones. This is all very easy since the chicken is cooked it comes off the bone easily. Do not throw he bones and skin away, I will tell you what to do with them shortly.
Notice I have also pictured here the sauces I used to make the meals I mentioned.
I used this for the chicken Parmesan.
When you are ready to make your individual lunches slice the chicken breasts, put the chicken into your plastic lunch container, pour your chosen sauce over the chicken, put your chosen side in the other section of the container. This takes literally less than 5 minutes for each meal. Now put on the lids and place into the refrigerator.
The extra chicken breast I did not use for my lunches, I will make a chicken quesadilla for dinner one evening after work.
Now to use the chicken drippings in your baking pan you set aside earlier, bones and skin. Place all of these items in a sauce pan add water just to cover the bones. Place on the stove to cook for about 30 minutes, while you make your individual meals.
By the time you have made all of your individual lunches as I have pictured above, your home made chicken broth is done.
Remove the bones and skin from the pan and pour the broth into jars or plastic container and put in the refrigerator to make soup with later instead of using a box broth. This made two pints of broth for free!
Another product from the chicken is a little of the broth and small pieces of chicken that can still be taken off the bones and saved aside to add to our doggy’s food, she loves it, I keep it in the fridge. Free dog food!
I hope these directions are easy to follow. Just remember to keep your pantry stocked with staples and buy your proteins on sale, schedule a time on your off time to prepare head and you will always eat well, they will be nutritious meals and they will cost less than two dollars per lunch.
Some times I buy pork loin roast or brisket that is on sale and cook the whole thing and make my lunches and dinners for the week. When I do this pre-planning I can literally have dinner on the table in 20 minutes after I get home from work.
Of course you can do the same thing using a crock pot, crock pot food is not my personal favorite. I am not a good cook with Crock Pots I can not seem to get the flavor I enjoy, but they are great for warming food for a buffet.
Let me know if this blog was helpful in any way or if you have suggestions.
Happy Brown Bagging!