Note: I define easy as in, I'm so tired after work I don't even want to have to so much as think about break out a knife and cutting board. Or if I did, that I wouldn't have to use them for more than 1 minute. Is this list appalling for foodies (most of whom also cook gourmet meals)? Probably - but for me, I primarily love to eat food other people cook, and occasionally will whip up a boeuf bourguignon and creme brulee from scratch when in the mood - but not on a weeknight when I am exhausted from work.
So, here goes with my 'dirty laundry' - the point is, being pressed for budget and time doesn't mean you have to resort to a subsistence diet of instant noodles or Hot Pockets...or fast food. There are other tastier options!
- Trader Joe's Wild Mushroom and Truffle Flatbread ($4.69) - preheat oven, then bake for 6-8 minutes
- Maitre Pierre Taste d' Alsace - french style flat bread with ham, caramelized onions & gruyere cheese - preheat oven, bake for 8-10 minutes
- Trader Joe's Saucy Scallops with Mushrooms in Emmental Cheese Sauce ($4.99) - preheat oven, then bake for 20-25 minutes, then throw over some rice!
- (Swedish pancake mix + water then pan fried) + Bellwether Farms creme fraiche + Organic Raspberry fruit spread = awesome breakfast for dinner in 5-6 minutes
- Mozzarella Fresca Bocconcini + Cherry Tomatoes + Mache + cubed Comte Cheese + grated parmesan cheese + Vinaigrette = caprese mache salad
- (Grill La Brea Bakery sliced French bread + Jarlsberg Swiss Cheese in oven) + (Imagine Fire Roasted Tomato Bisque + dollop of mascarpone cheese heated up on stove) = awesome soup and sandwich in minutes
Mitsuwa Market / Galleria Market (Japanese / Korean markets)
- Pre-marinated bulgogi (sliced beef) or galbi (shortribs) put on bbq grill or fried in pan + steamed rice + kimchee from jar = heaven for less than $10
- Pre-sliced sashimi from refrigerated section + steamed rice, cooled, mixed with rice vinegar with wooden spoon, then rolled + wasabi = DIY sushi
- (Pre-sliced shabu shabu beef + various fish balls + enoki mushrooms + slice of ginger + napa cabbage) dunked in boiling water or low sodium chicken broth and dipped in bottled shabu shabu sauce = hot pot with no effort (ok, 30 second knife use needed with chopping up ginger)
- (Spam, fried + white rice rolled into ball with some sesame seeds) + seaweed wrap = cheating a little, you need a knife to slice the spam
- Chilean Seabass filet - steam with soy sauce diluted with water + ginger slices + green onion slices (white part of stalks only) + salt + pepper in ceramic dish on circular wire rack, placed in large stockpot with water about 1/3 way up OUTside of ceramic dish for 8-10 minutes. Serve over steamed rice. (Ok, 1 minute chopping required for ginger and green onion)
- Live crab, boiled in large stockpot with water about 1/3 way up the height of the crab + dipping sauce made with black honey vinegar and finely chopped ginger heated in microwave = seafood dinner with minimal effort (ok, tiny cheat with knife needed to chop up ginger)
- Gelson's Market Cook in Bag Brussel Sprouts - these can be nuked in the bag for 4 minutes and come out tasting as if you made them fresh! Halve, put in bowl and serve with bacon chutney as a side dish. It's all about a 'balanced diet' with this one ;P
- Green Thumb Gourmet multi-colored broccoli - find in produce section. Pre-sauced and comes in sealed plastic tray that you can pop into microwave and again comes out tasting freshly steamed. Gorgeous mix of colors - purple, green, cream-colored. Just add your fav artisanal infused salt. Art on a plate!
- Eggland's Best eggs scrambled with truffle salt + Boar's Head thick cut bacon fried with paprika = breakfast for dinner in minutes, for mere dollars
- Steamfresh series frozen Tilapia ($6.99 for two filets) steamed in microwave for 4 minutes + (nuked whole potatoes, mashed with whipped cream cheese + Land 'O Lakes butter + Horizon organic whipping cream + truffle salt) + asparagus pan fried in butter and salt = complete meal in less than 15 minutes
- Same fish dish as above, but substitute Mahatma single-serve saffron rice for mashed potatoes
- Hereford Roast Beef with Gravy + garlic salt + pepper, wrapped in tortillas sealed with a toothpick and fried in 100% vegetable oil = fresh flautas
- Rancher's Reserve Steak rubbed with garlic salt and pepper, and grilled on a George Foreman to drain excess oils, or broiled ($4-$9) + new potatoes roasted with olive oil, rosemary, grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper
Disclaimer: Those with dietary restrictions or food allergies should avoid items they have reactions to. Also, I do not make any health claims with any of the dishes mentioned - these are just things that I find easy to make and enjoy eating when crunched for time or funds. You don't have to try them or like any of them ;).