Take Back Takeout

chinese-takeout1In this season, when hustle and bustle is the overarching theme and time slips through your fingers like its water, meal time and meal time prep tends to fall to the bottom of the list.

Despite your best intentions, because you are so short on time (and on energy), you’ve probably hit the drive-thru or picked up the phone to order dinner more often than you’d like to over the last few weeks.

Not only is this a less healthy way to eat, it is also far more expensive than meals you prepare yourself.

With the holiday countdown nearing its final stretch, take charge of your takeout and of your meal time!

Pizza Party

Put that phone down, and break out the homemade pizza. What is really fun about this activity is that kids can have some “ownership” in making their meal. Chop up a variety of toppings and let kids choose their own. Get creative with sauces too, and substitute things like BBQ sauce or cream sauce for traditional pizza sauce.

Chinese Food

Another great favourite to pick up on the way home is Chinese food. No doubt this treat is yummy, but can also be very expensive. You can re-create some of your favourite dishes easily and far less expensively as well.

One of my faves is beef and broccoli stir fry.  Thinly slice beef and onions. Cut a head of broccoli into bite-sized florets.  For the sauce, combine beef broth (about ¾ cup), a tsp each of ginger and garlic powder. You may need a little cornstarch (about a tsp as well) to thicken the sauce. Stir fry beef, onion and broccoli in a little olive oil. Once browned, add the sauce and cook until bubbly and sauce is thickened.

Other kid-friendly favourites include garlic spareribs. Use side ribs (as opposed to back ribs). Cut into single ribs and trim fat. Throw in your slow cooker for 4-6 hours on high in some dry garlic rib sauce, and takeout is done. The best part is this is cooking while you are out finishing your shopping!

To complete the Chinese takeout experience, make fried rice, using cold cooked white rice and diced carrots and green onions. Sauté all ingredients in a little olive oil, breaking apart rice until cooked through.

Chickening out

Do you love your rotisserie chicken? While slightly more expensive than the homemade version, picking up a cooked rotisserie chicken at your grocery store on the way home is much cheaper than hitting your local restaurant.

Pick up a bagged salad while you are there, and throw some fries in the oven when you get home for the full meal experience. A hint- many of your favourite rotisserie restaurants sell their “secret” dipping sauces in the spice aisle of your grocery store, and are made easily and quickly at home.

Nuggets without the Drive-Thru Window

Are your kids chicken nugget fanatics? Make them yourself at home, which is almost as fast- but far healthier.

Slice boneless chicken pieces into bite sized pieces (or long thin pieces if you are making chicken fingers). Boneless chicken thighs are usually less expensive and work just as well as white meat too. Dip the sliced chicken in beaten egg or milk and then roll in Italian breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes.

Bake until cooked through at 425, probably about 20 mins. Serve with plum sauce for dipping. While this kid’s meal doesn’t come with a toy, it does come at a deep discount compared to what you get at the drive-thru!