It has happened to the most organized of us. Something comes up, something gets forgotten, and all of a sudden dinner becomes an emergency. Haven’t you ever come home from work to realize that you forgot to take out the pork chops to defrost? Yes, there is always delivery pizza, but if you are one of the many families who have a weekly pizza night anyway, this may become too much. The secret is to have a stash of foods on hand that can be quickly assembled to make a healthy, nutritious and inexpensive dinner in a pinch.
- Spaghetti and meatballs. Today’s prepared frozen meatballs have come a long way from the dogfood texture balls of the past. Take a handful of the meatballs out of the freezer bag, put them in a pot with a bottle of canned sauce and simmer. While they simmer, you just have to boil the water and put thin (angel hair or cappelini cook the fastest) pasta in for a few minutes. Add a bagged green salad (you do always have one on hand, don’t you?) and you are done.
- Cheese dogs. Hot dogs are just hot dogs until you split them open and put some shredded or sliced cheese in them. Frozen corn on the cob quarters (watch for them on sale) and chips, and you will have a happy family who thinks they are at the fair.
- Tuna melts. A staple of the Midwest, and so simple and good. Tuna salad, spread on whole wheat bread, topped with American cheese and placed under the broiler until the cheese is melted. Sliced tomatoes on the side, or right on the melt if you prefer, and you have all of your dinner ingredients.
- Macaroni and cheese. Everybody’s favorite, and to make it healthier, add peas, and to make it special, throw a little extra American or Cheddar cheese to melt in before you serve it.
- Sweet and sour sausage. Vienna style canned sausage has been a life saver for unexpected company, and now, with a little imagination, it can be just as great for a family dinner. Make a quick and easy sweet and sour sauce by heating grape jelly in a saucepan and adding vinegar (preferably apple), a few drops at a time, to thin it and sour it, tasting as you go. Add the sausage and serve over minute rice with, of course, that bagged salad you always have.
- Chicken salad platter. This is a great summer dish, and served over a bed of greens, makes a perfect dinner. Just make chicken salad from canned chunk chicken. You can add deli macaroni or potato salad, but if you don’t want to run out to get them, just add some chips to the plate. After all, this is an emergency dinner!
So make a list of these simple stable products, and keep them on hand for your own dinner emergency.
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