I have received a lot of letters from various people from all walks of life who plain and simple just do not like cooking. Cooking for them is on the same par as toilet cleaning. However, they are diligent swish and swipers, incorporating bathroom cleaning into their regular morning routines. But because other options exist for dinner (going out, fast food, take out, etc.), they aren’t incorporating cooking into their routines.
So why write me to tell me if what they are doing is working for them? The deal isn’t that it isn’t working for them; it’s just not working WELL for them. They are concerned about the cost and the nutrition aspects of doing this on a regular basis.
The cost is astronomical, both financially and health-wise. Most families do not have the financial means to eat out every night, period—whether it is healthy or not. A recent study revealed that for every dollar spent on food eaten out, only 27 cents worth of food was actually served. What does that tell you about the economics of eating out? Is going out to dinner every night a worthy investment of your family’s dollars?
Lest you think I’m dumping on restaurants, let me assure you I am not. I love going out to dinner and around here, we go out once a week as a family or get pizza or take out. My husband and I go out alone (date night) or with friends regularly, too. I’m always on the prowl for a new restaurant and new dining experience.
But the day-to-day of feeding a family is expensive. We just couldn’t afford to feed everyone well (as in healthy, fresh food) if we went out all the time. And while I do love to cook, for the most part, there are days when it frankly is a chore. I have other things I’d rather be doing and a bunch of people (my family, friends, employees, etc.) who want or need my attention.
But I have great news for those who get squeamish at the idea of cooking a big family meal. Most of it can be done on the grill (and these days, outdoor grills with their propane tanks make it seasonless!) then all you really have to add is a big salad, and presto, you’ve got dinner! Here is a recent grilled meal I recently made and it took me all of fifteen minutes to prepare. 🙂
Marinated Grilled Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Brown Rice (for my peeps, I’ve gone Paleo!)
Grilled Zucchini and Yellow Squash
Big Green Salad
Take a big gallon-sized zipper topped plastic bag and fill it with raw chicken (we go with 2 per person around here; I always get some leftovers for lunch the next day). Next, add half a bottle of teriyaki sauce and half a bottle of Italian dressing. Mush the bag around so chicken is coated. You’ll want that to marinate for a few hours or overnight even. Cook your brown rice now—it will take the longest to cook.
Prepare your zucchini by slicing into rounds; same with the yellow squash. Throw these cut squashes into a big bowl and toss with a little olive oil (you don’t want it dripping in oil), salt and pepper, and some fresh garlic pressed right into the squash (I use 2 cloves, but there are five of us eating and we all love garlic). You can either sauté this in a pan on the stovetop or sauté it on the grill if you have a pan with holes in it. It’s awesome cooked this way and pans with holes in them can be found anywhere—even the drugstore.
Fire up the barbecue and after it is preheated (make sure it’s clean, too!), add the chicken and watch it as you cook it, adjusting the heat as need be. If you’re cooking your veggies on the grill too, you will want to start them at the same time. Otherwise, cook them on the stovetop after your chicken is cooked (keep the chicken warm by wrapping the platter in foil and keeping it in a cold oven just long enough till the squash is cooked).
Set your table, get your salad together (I use already prepared salad bags from the grocery store, add some pine nuts, feta cheese crumbles, tomatoes, and vinaigrette, tossed altogether, yum!).
That’s it! You can serve your chicken on individual plates or serve everything family-style like we do—big platters, you get to pass the food around, join hands and say grace and remember to enjoy your family.
Leanne Ely, Your Dinner Diva
Saving Your Dinner since 2001