Fast Food — Slowly!

by Erin Anne Beirne on December 17, 2009

Every now and again, my food issues can drive me to tears.

Happily, that no longer happens too often but, even now, after all these years of practice later, one of the greatest food-related Meltdown Moments in my little world appears when I’m both hungry and rushed. Add “nowhere near home” to the list, and it feels like my own Personal Perfect Storm, but I’ll focus mostly on the At Home version for today.

I feel like screaming, “What can I eat when I have no time to prepare it?!”

“Normal” people just drive through a fast food place, order pizza, or pop in to the neighbourhood chinese food restaurant-to-go, and keep on running. If I did that I’d be no going nowhere at all — for days! Practically comatose is a hard way to get through a busy-life week.

Every now and again, I actually get it all together! Boy, does it ever smooth out the rough bits when I get it right. Here’s what I do when I’m smart and organized (which I wish I achieved more regularly than I do!):

  • prepare extra as I go, and freeze it in clearly labelled and dated boxes or bags
  • have a cooking spree and make a whole bunch of recipes ahead of time and freeze them (labelled and dated, of course)
  • use a slow cooker to start the meal in the morning and come home to it all ready to go — invest the extra few dollars in the kind that has a built-in timer, trust me on this
  • pre-make the slower/harder parts of a meal and freeze just that bit, to be added to and completed quickly later on
  • test out meals that you might normally eat hot to see if they can be tasty and effective if cold — Curried Chick Pea Stew is one good example of a dish that almost eats like a salad when it’s cold! Asian Broccoli and Tofu with Peanut Butter Sauce is another
  • try to think of different “fillings” that you could wrap up in a rice wrapper  and eat “on the road” — the options here can be a little bit surprising, too, like the sauce and some of the noodles from Singapore Noodle, or a chicken and broccoli stir-fry, for instance
  • if you are not a vegetarian/vegan, cook up a big roast of some sort and use it as the foundation of a few meals during a hectic week — e.g. a big roasting chicken can provide filling for rice wraps, some quick finger food, something you can add to your plate along with some rice and veggies… and more!

Those days when I feel like I’m falling apart suddenly seem all bright and happy again when I pull open the freezer and :-) discover a long-forgotten freezer container of a favourite homemade soup, or the foundation to a quick-to-complete-and-still-be-tasty meal! Fifteen minutes later, we’re all fed and I’m off and racing again…

The other days, the ones where I’m not so lucky? :-( Besides not wanting to talk about it to anyone nearby at that unhappy moment I realize I’ve used up all my make-aheads already, the other thing that happens is that I get re-inspired to get on top of having food ready to go for the next time.

Hmm… I guess a little pain is a good reminder of the value of preparation. :-|

What other ideas do you have that help you “survive” when you are half-starved and nearly fully-mad?

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