You rock! I have been flying now for seven years (thank you for the peace your routines have brought to my house), but I still have a hard time with dinner planning and execution.
I have three teenagers (two incredibly picky eaters because of ASD issues), and a DH with an insane work schedule. DH really wants to have dinner with us most nights, but rarely knows before 5 whether he’ll be home at 6:30 or 8:30. And many times, he’ll say 6:30, and when he still hasn’t appeared by 8, I’ll call his office and he’ll sheepishly answer about being stuck on a project. I don’t blame him – his efforts make it possible for me to stay home, but it does make planning and executing meals difficult.
What really defeats me is all the kids’ activities. After hours of driving, watching practices and lessons, and going to games, by the time I have everyone back home the last thing I want to do is prepare a meal. In our town, that leaves so-so pizza delivery, bad Chinese delivery, or fast food drive through. Yuck, and expensive. A crock pot is always an option, but with two kids refusing to eat anything ‘casserole-y’, that leaves plain protein. Crock pot meat gets old, and dry, fast.
I have, however, found a really good solution – a sous vide cooker. It allows you to cook at a low temperature for an extended period of time. You ziplock bag the food (or vacuum pack it in a food saver), immerse it in a big pot of water, put the sous vide circulator into the pot, and turn it on. It is incredibly forgiving on timing – for example, a piece of sirloin can be done in as little as 3 to 4 hours, or left for as long as 6 to 8 without being over cooked.
I can put dinner on before the kids’ activities start, leave it, and it is ready whenever everyone is finally home. It only cooks it to the level of doneness, whatever your preference, because the water never goes over the temperature that you set. And because it is cooking for an extended period of time you don’t have to worry about bacteria. It doesn’t reach the magic 165 degrees, but doesn’t need to because it is held at a lower temperature for a longer time.
A sous vide cooker isn’t cheap, but I looked at what four or five pizza delivery nights would cost, and it was less than that. It is also the best steak, pork, chicken, and fish I have ever made (I used it for Christmas Day’s roast of beef for 20, and everyone raved about the meat). It is a common piece of equipment in restaurant kitchens. There are plenty of steak houses that use these to cook and hold your steak at medium rare, then the steak is flash grilled for outer appearance and char taste.
Sorry for the length of this post, but I really wanted to highlight another option for healthy meal planning. Thank you for all that you do to help those of us who struggle with CHAOS!
Flying in Illinois