Living deep in the heart of BFE (and if you don’t know what that means, google it), I cannot just run to the grocery store on a whim. Every time I need to go anywhere, I can bank on at least on a 30 minute drive…one way. It’s my lot in life, the bane of my existence and a constant source of road rage on two-lane highways from hell. Add in this oh-so-fun event back in November:
and I find driving around town stressful to say the least, but that’s a story for another day.
When I do shop for groceries, I have to plan meals in two week blocks, so I can minimize extra trips to the store. We only have one car, so even if I was willing to burn an hour’s worth of gas and drive time, I hardly ever have the actual car to do so. If you really want to make Bayou Husband snarly, ask him to stop at the store on the way home…it’s a riot.
This shopping plan has worked thus far, but I’ve also learned to expect the I unexpected. For those two week blocks, I may have planned gorgeous, delightful homemade meals from scratch, but inevitably, I’ll have one day that blows even the best laid plans out of the water. It may be a child with a fever, or an exploding hot water heater, or even those fun times when our po-dunk town randomly shuts off the neighborhood’s water with no warning…oh good times. Every mom has those days when we just can’t seem to get things to stay on track, but we still have a family depending on us for dinner.
These days are why I always plan “the back-up meal.” This is a meal you can get on the table in less than 30 minutes, and unlike some food network chef, it will not dirty up every dang dish in your kitchen (why call it 30 minute meals, when it is 30 minutes of cooking but 1 hour of clean up?). The back-up meal is one that you plan for, you buy for, and you save it for that day when all hell breaks loose. You’ll know that day when it comes…it will be right about the time Mom goes to DEF-CON 2, and you are in danger of launching the missiles.
But most importantly, the back-up meal has to be something that the family will actually eat. I could probably toss together a quick soup and sandwich, but after Bayou Husband quit laughing, he would hand me the phone and tell me to call for pizza (well, not really, but he would give me that pitiful look like he is going to starve to death). And let’s not even talk about what the kids would do, it makes me queasy just to think about it because it would start with something like this:
No, the back-up meal is only a good plan if it means you still get Mom-Credit for cooking dinner.
The following dish, One Pot Pasta, is definitely a good back-up meal. Only one pot to wash? Who wouldn’t like that? I sure do. I’ve been known to throw out dishes I don’t want to wash. Once, when Bayou Husband and I lived in a tiny apartment, I forgot about some Thanksgiving leftovers hiding in the back of the fridge….for a month and a half. Needless to say, that went into the garbage, tupperware and all.
So, a meal that takes less than 30 minutes and only one pot? That is an essential in any Mom’s bag of tricks. Pick up the stuff for this dish next time you hit the store, and wait for that inner-voice to tell you it’s time for a back-up plan. Pick up some wine while you are at it, so you can also enjoy a restorative cocktail while you whip up a home-cooked meal, even in the center of chaos.
One Pot Pasta
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 (26-ounce) jars tomato-basil pasta sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 (20-ounce) package refrigerated four-cheese ravioli
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook ground beef in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink; drain. Wipe Dutch oven clean.
Sauté onion and mushrooms in hot oil over medium-high heat 8 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in beef, pasta sauce, 1 cup water, and next 3 ingredients.
Bring sauce to a boil; add ravioli. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is done. Stir in cheese. Serve immediately.
If you do have that kind of day, just keep a nice back-up plan handy so that you can fake your domestic mastery. There’s always time to be Supermom for real tomorrow.