Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Backup Meal

It's the bane of every cook's existence - the bombed recipe.

It doesn't matter whether the dish was the result of human error, equipment failure, or mismatched palettes.  There's a sad plate of food in front of you that is completely inedible.

I like my steak medium well, but even I know this is a crime
These lost meals can be hard to cope with.  You've spent money to purchase ingredients, invested time into creating the recipe, and used energy to prepare it. All to have it go right into the trash can.  

Mike and I have found we have a poor response to these hiccups - 
go out to eat.

It seems like an easy solution.  Your stomach is already growling, you're irritable and stressed, and you certainly don't want to start another meal from scratch.

Dining at restaurants, of course, is a hard hit to your wallet and waistline.  And this certainly isn't a feasible solution when you enjoy experimenting with recipes frequently.

A savvy and budget-conscious cook needs only one weapon in their arsenal to combat the disaster recipe blues:

The Backup Meal

The backup meal is easy and painless to whip up and enjoy as you avoid looking at the carnage that is your kitchen.

This meal will save you money if it prevents you from stress eating at a restaurant.

This meal will probably not be a culinary delight, but it will do the trick of making sure bellies are full and your wallet hasn't been opened.

As a kid, my mother diplomatically handed me a jar of peanut butter if I turned my nose up at her offerings.  It's a good concept - use what you already have on hand.

With a little effort, these staples can be turned into a meal in minutes:
  • Frozen pizza
  • Eggs 
  • Canned or frozen fruit / veggies
  • Bread and cheese for grilled cheese
  • Jarred spaghetti sauce and pasta
  • Sandwich meat
  • Canned soup
  • Veggies and minute rice for a quick stir fry  

Eggs are my default meal.  I try to gear our recipes to have leftovers, but if dinner and lunch go up in smoke, I grab out my carton of eggs.  With little effort I can turn these golden gems into omelets, mini soufflees, or scrambled eggs.  Easy to add chopped up sandwich meat, shredded cheese, or diced veggies. 

There are no end to combinations here to fit your tastes and dietary needs.  The key is to make sure these things are on hand at all times so they can be called on short notice.

This is something we're still working on.  I don't often buy premade meals but if having a $7 frozen pizza in my freezer prevents me from spending $30 at a restaurant, then that's a good deal.

What are your backup meals?

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