Monday, 22 July 2013

Quick & Dirty Cheats to Save You Time

Writers will get this, working mum's will get this, basically anyone who has too many things and not enough time in the day will get this. You know that moment when you've been super productive—like all the shit has been done today, and just as you're about to give yourself a high-five, you look at the clock and...Balls...

It's about an hour later than you thought it was, you have exactly four minutes to make the ten minute trip to pick up your kids, and you know in about twenty-five minutes time you're going to have a house full of hungry creatures and nothing to feed them but re-fried air.
So you scramble. You search on your smart-phone for quick meal ideas, and—the lying bastards!! Every mother knows that the amazing homemade from scratch casserole that the lying prick of a celebrity chef tells you will take fifteen minutes only exists in a world where you have mad-ninja-knife-skills, or a fridge magically full of every fancy-ass herb on the planet, or it uses every single utensil, pot, and appliance you own—including the giant food processor buried in the corner of no return at the back of you over-stacked cupboard. You know if on the highly unlikely chance that this recipe actually takes fifteen minutes to make, the clean-up afterwards is going to take the rest of your life.

So you flick to the next website, and oh looky here, something that might really take fifteen minutes to cook—but its stir-fried beetroot with raw zucchini salad served on a bed of nothing-any-child-will-ever-eat...
Eventually as your family sits down to their meal, and you watch your children eat their tinned baked beans that in no way resembles a meal, nothing you've achieved that day seems to count because you've just failed at dinner. Even better your blood pressure has gone up like you've just eaten all the salt directly from the box.

I'll be clear, I like cooking. I even like making things that take the extra effort—when I'm prepared and have the time. But sometimes as someone who wears the twenty five different hats of a working mother, a small business owner, a writer, and every other thing, I just need a cheat.
I mean a real proper cheat. Something that takes five minutes, that looks and tastes like a meal but I don't actually have to cook. Something that doesn't need me to chop eighty things, or use all the pots, or cause a mess that will drain my life on a day I don't have the time. But most of all I want to put it on the table and be okay with my kids eating it, and still be winning. Sometimes, I want to fudge dinner, and for it to be okay.

So recently I learned to fake it. Learned a handful of tricks and recipes I can use on those days and create the illusion that I have this domestic stuff covered.

4 Timesaving Tricks
Tip 1— Tinned tuna and salmon can be substituted for chicken in many recipes and save time. Have these in your cupboard and you'll always have something to cook.

Tip 2— Shred the meat off a purchased rotisserie chicken and use it in a recipe. You'll have meat for two days without cooking. Tinned chicken is also available (if your game) at most supermarkets, and some deli's sell precooked chicken breast if you're not big on rotisserie chooks.
Tip 3 — Don't be afraid to buy a salad kit or bag of pre-chopped veg, it's better than baked beans for dinner.

Tip 4 — Keep tortillas, pita bread, and bread rolls in the freezer, to throw together an instant no-cook meal. Long life taco shells and wraps last months in the pantry.

5 Cheat Meals—5 minutes or less prep time
Here are my own versions of 5 minute meals, although the images are just for reference ;)
Anna Frodesiak, February 2013

      ·         Pita Bread

·         Shredded rotisserie chicken

·         Tzatziki (Grerk cucumber dip available in deli section of supermarkets)

·         Lettuce (the pre-washed ready to use kind)

·         Sliced Tomato


It ain't science. Just scatter the fillings in the middle of the pita, fold in the bottom and wrap it up.
Takes a few minutes, no cooking or washing up. :)
Salmon Risotto

·         Family size pouch of microwave rice

·         1/2 a natural vegetable stock cube dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water

·         1/2 cup frozen baby peas

·         1 chopped spring onion/shallot

·         3 tablespoons light cream cheese (Philadelphia style)

·         3 tablespoons fresh parmesan

·         200g tin of boneless salmon (well drained)

Place the rice in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 60 seconds. While the rice is in the microwave, whisk the cream cheese into the hot stock. Mix all the remaining ingredients with the rice and microwave for another 2-3 minutes depending on the strength of your microwave.

Chicken Caesar Salad

By tratong, published on 15 January 2013

      ·         A bag of Caesar salad mix (with crotons and dressing)

·         1/2 a shredded rotisserie chicken

·         4 eggs

Set the eggs to boil for 4 minutes. Put together the salad mix and top with either warm or cold chicken. Rinse the eggs under cold water and peal. Cut eggs in quarters and top salad.

Tip: My kids don't always like the idea of salad, but if I put salad on one side of the plate, shredded chicken and boiled eggs on the other, they generally eat it.
Easy Pizza
 By -Marcus-, published on 05 June 2013
Pizza Base - Be creative. If you don't have a base in the freezer, they can be made with Pita, Turkish bread, Bread Rolls, and much more.

      ·         Tomato passata (puree tomato) seasoned with salt, pepper and a squeeze of minced garlic if you have it.

·         Packet of grated mozzarella cheese

·         Torn cold meat (whatever you have in the fridge - salami, ham, chicken etc)

·         pitted olives

·         sliced capsicum

Preheat oven to 200c degrees. Top base with tomato sauce, cheese, and other toppings. Bake for 15 minutes.

Chicken Tacos


       1 packet of soft taco shells
  • 1/2 a shredded rotisserie chicken
  • Ready to use lettuce
  • Chopped baby Tomato's
  • Avocado (optional)
  • Ready grated tasty cheese
      1 tbs lime juice (or white vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup Natural Yoghurt
  • Smoked paprika
  • Salt and Pepper

Heat chicken in microwave safe bowl. Combine dressing ingredients with chicken and toss well. Fill Taco shells with chicken mixture, and top with salad toppings and cheese.

There's a real dinner, effort fudged! 

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  1. Love this! :)

  2. This post was hilarious and put a big smile on my face. :D I'm so glad I'm not the only one in this situation! Fast, celebrity chef meals are easy to prepare if you have a team of people prepping and cleaning up afterwards, and if you've managed to find all the rare ingredients, like you said. Thanks for the quick solutions. I'm sure I'll be using them soon!

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  4. Wonderful blog, Amber! Especially for those of us who HATE meal prep with zeal. The recipes look healthy, easy, and most importantly something that my kids would actually eat without complaint (except maybe the salad, fussy Master 16 still won't eat any raw vegetables). Le Sigh. :)

    1. Thanks Tracey. Lol I understand, I get away with the salad if I don't assemble it as a salad...

  5. Oh this had me giggling! Nailed it! Thank you so much for tips and tricks for 'real' people.

  6. lol this post made me hungry it

    1. Thank you so much :) Glad it was helpful!