Cooking is just not my thing. Problem is, I have these kids. And they have a pesky habit of wanting to be fed something hot and nutritious -- or at least hot -- every evening around 6:00. We manage breakfast and lunch just fine, but dinner is a challenge. Basketball makes it even more of a challenge as we either eat way early, way late, or on the run.
By the time any sports season runs its course, I am anxious to serve up something – anything -- that doesn't come packaged in styrofoam, in a square cardboard box, or with a plastic toy. I want real food, reasonably healthy fare that everyone will eat.
Let me tell you, the pickings are slim.
I attended an ultra-couponing class a while back. One of the first steps in saving big bucks is to identify the meals you regularly cook. We were asked to jot down our twenty most commonly used recipes. Sounds easy enough. I got stuck at ten and really scrounged to come up with twelve or thirteen entrees I make with any regularity.
Early in marriage, I was fairly inventive and energetic in the kitchen. I loved Southern Living (still do) which offers recipes that are both easy and doable. I've peeked at Martha Stewart a time or two, but tend to avoid any recipe that begins with "Step 1: Get out your pasta machine." Pasta machine? Ummm . . . no.
Despite the lack of a pasta machine, back in the day, I really did put effort into cooking. Fifteen years and four fairly picky eaters later, I shy away from inventive and find myself considerably less energetic.
A year or so ago I uncovered a dangerous truth: Little Caesars offers Hot and Ready Pizza for $5.35. No calling ahead. No wait. Six minutes from their oven to my dining room table. Unless I'm splitting Kraft Macaroni and Cheese five ways (not that I've ever done THAT!), I can't feed the tribe for $5.35.
And then I discovered rotisserie chicken. These babies typically run $4.99. Occasionally you can pick one up for $3.99. Check the refrigerator section for a few birds marked down to $2.99. Yes, for five dollars or less, here's decent nutrition. The added bonus? Someone else scours the roasting pan.
Rotisserie chicken in hand, what meals can you concoct? We like:
1. Red beans and rice with chicken.And last but not least . . .
2. Chicken and dumplings
3. Chicken enchiladas
4. Chicken pot pie
5. Chicken soup
6. Rotisserie chickenTim has hit a growth spurt and consumes protein like a rabid Pit Bull. Rotisserie chicken enters the house, the lemon pepper aroma wafts his way, and he downs a leg and a thigh.
"Mom," he pleaded the other day. "Can you just buy me my own chicken?"
Relatively cheap, low fat, healthy . . . yeah, I can supply an occasional chicken.
Here's one word to the wise: If you're pulling a shock and awe grocery run at 5:32 (not that I ever do THAT!), avoid the rotisserie chicken marked 10:00 a.m.