In Between Bites

Not all of us can afford to eat out as much as we want to, or to whip up spectacular 8 (or even single) course dinners after work - so to stave off what I call 'Post Palate Stimulation Depression' (the empty hole in your heart as well as your stomach, the day after you've had an amazing dining experience, when you realize that your next meal will be a necessary return to the daily mundane) - here are some easy, cheap and still tasty weeknight meal ideas straight from the grocery store. 

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
  • 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

Whole Foods
  • 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
  • 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 ;).


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