The Mobile Home Gourmet's Minute Meals
Formerly my Lazy Man Meals page.
Minute Meals are simple, ready in minutes, and they help me to eat meals of healthy nutrition. I changed the name to hopefully give the idea broader appeal. In 2015 I did a series of 10 video lessons on my Minute Meals and uploaded them to YouTube. The following is Lesson 1. You will find all the others on YouTube.
Watch a YouTube video of me preparing chicken for my Minute Meals (formerly Lazy Man Meals).
Here's the thing about eating well balanced meals: You end up with a lot of stuff to wash. For a main portion of fish, meat, or chicken—that's one pan. Then two vegetables, one high in nutrients, like broccoli or green beans, and one high in carbohydrates, like corn or mashed potatoes—that's two more pans. Add plates, flatware, cooking and serving utensils, and you have a sink full of dirty dishes for just one meal. Cooking for only one or two people makes the whole ordeal barely worth the time. No wonder fast food is so popular!
If you also are the primary care giver for an elderly relative, along with providing for your family, the challenge can become daunting.
I tried many different ideas for solving this dilemma (and I ate a lot of fast food) until I came up with my Minute Meals. I call them Minute Meals because they are ready in minutes. I timed one with a stopwatch. From freezer to plate of hot food was 5 minutes 33 seconds. I also discovered an additional advantage—my meals have controlled portions and therefore they are great when you're on a diet, trying to lose some weight. (I recently lost 65 pounds.)
Minute Meals are a lot of work up front, but then you don't need to cook for days, even weeks, afterward. Select three or four portions from the freezer, place on a plate, heat in the microwave oven for four to five minutes (depending on the power of your microwave), eat, and then go wash your plate and fork. Job done!
This is also an easy way to carry food to work for lunch in the office. Put the pouches and a plate in a ziplock bag, store in the refrigerator at work, and heat in the office microwave. It sure beats going out for a burger and fries.
EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES:
The challeng was to store the food in single servings and make heating easy. I bought a heat sealer from amazon.com and a huge—and I mean huge—roll of six-inch wide poly tubing (3,000 feet long!) from a shipping supply company, Uline.com—their item number S-1115. (The tubing is FDA and USDA approved for use in the food services industry. Smaller size rolls are also available on Amazon. Search for "poly tubing".) I make pouches by sealing the tubing every four to five inches and then I cut each pouch off near the seal. The huge roll of poly tubing is expensive, about $100, but one roll of tubing will last for many years. Each pouch costs about a penny.
When I cook chicken, I cook four chickens. It's a day for cooking because I fillet off the breast meat, thigh, and drumstick meat, and bake the meat garnished with herbs. The bones, skin, etc. are saved for making stock. In the Recipe Archive are PDFs for Boning a Chicken and Chicken Stock. When I cook beef, I might make two Tuscan Meatloafs. Lamb: Two legs of Pesto Lamb. You'll find recipes in the Recipe Archive. Almost anything you enjoy eating can be made in large quantities and portioned to freeze. I slice the meat after it cools (no need for a knife on the table), divide the meat into three-ounce portions (a standard serving size), and seal them in pouches. The pouches are placed in ziplock bags and stored in the freezer.
If your prefer not to cook, you can buy pre-cooked meats in the frozen food section of most stores. Many stores also sell cooked chicken, such as the following:
While walking through Costco one day I saw the Kirkland Rotisserie Chickens for only $4.99 each. Why was I paying $6 to $7 each for raw chickens and then doing all the work of deboning and roasting them? I bought two cooked chickens, deboned the meat, and portioned it for my Minute Meals, putting 19 servings in the freezer for about 50¢ each. The bones, skin, and all the trim was saved for making chicken stock for soups.
One Thanksgiving season I bought a fresh (not frozen) turkey for 89¢ per pound at the warehouse store, filleted the thing, cooked all the meat, and put 42 servings in the freezer. It lasted for months. I made stock with the trim (bones, etc.). If you want to see me debone a turkey, click this video.
Or I might make a large pot of Texas Chili (recipe in the Archive). After dinner I seal one-cup portions in plastic pouches and put them in the freezer for later. I do the same with other soups and stews to add variety to my Minute Meals.
Vegetables are easy. I buy large bags of frozen vegetables—broccoli, corn, green beans, peas, mixed vegetables—you get the idea. When it comes to mashed potatoes, that's a big cooking day. I buy a 20-pound bag of potatoes at the warehouse store. I peel, boil, and mash them all*. I save the cooking water for making bread. I portion my vegetables into four-ounce servings and heat seal them in little pouches. The pouches go back into the original bag and the bag goes into the freezer.
*Just recently I found some excellent instant potatoes at the warehouse store. The product contains nothing but "potatoes, butter, and sea salt." No chemical additives. No preservatives. The grocery store sells some good instant potatoes as well.
On "potato day" I do up a lot of potatoes. As mentioned above, sometimes I buy the big bag of potatoes at the warehouse store and peel, boil, mash, and package the whole bag. It takes a few hours. Sometimes I get lazy and do up some instant potatoes I like. Here is a photo of my mashed potatoes before they went into the freezer. I won't need to do potatoes again for about a month.
HEATING AND EATING:
What could be easier? Select three or four pouches from the freezer, snip a corner off each bag to vent steam, and heat in the microwave oven. Place the heated food on a plate (I sometimes prefer paper plates) and eat. If you use paper plates there is nothing to wash but a fork.
There is another advantage: Almost nothing goes into the trash, just the empty plastic pouches. My weekly trash is only one small bag that goes out for pickup. My trash never looks like this:
As mentioned above, it's a lot of work in advance, but I only do this work once every few weeks. The rest of the time I take it easy, enjoying meals of well balanced nutrition, without facing a sink full of dirty dishes. The best part of it all: I have never eaten healthier meals. For losing weight, these controlled portions are ideal.