It’s 5:30 p.m. You’re exhausted from a day at the office. Both you and the kids are hungry, but you are too crunched for time (not to mention low on energy) to prepare a home-cooked meal. Sound familiar?
In a last-ditch effort for food, some families might pick up the phone and call in pizza or Chinese for delivery, ditching their intentions of serving up a nutritious, home-cooked meal. Others throw in the towel completely and head out to a nearby restaurant, where the kids do their homework at the table in between spoonfuls of spaghetti.
Making a wholesome meal at home doesn’t have to take more than 15 minutes of prep or require cabinets full of ingredients, says Tara Brennan, the author of Scoop It Chop It Cook It. So how does she feed her family in just minutes without resorting to something from a box or can? She heads to her supermarket’s Mediterranean bar (others call it an antipasto bar) and deli case.
The assortment of already seasoned, fresh, ready-to-eat ingredients are not just for snacking or appetizers. According to Brennan, “The magic happens when we consider these products as more than what they appear to be. What if we start to think about them as the bases for sauces or salads? Pasta toppings?” It takes just minutes for her to toss the roasted tomatoes with artichoke quarters in a sauté pan with shrimp, or even with cooked pasta. Make a nutritious and inexpensive family meal in mere minutes with Brennan’s ideas below.
In the Pantry
To make mealtime prep easy, Brennan relies on a couple of staple items from her pantry, no matter what she’s making. They include extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, coarse sea salt, peppercorns, hot pepper flakes, brown sugar, and herbs (she likes thyme and rosemary). “I also like to have a jar of fig jam around, as well as ketchup and Dijon mustard. If your cabinets looks like this, your guests will not go hungry.”