No Time (or Desire) to Cook? Let Your Grocer Do the Work

Cathy’s comment on my “Eating Out” post describing how she prepares a week’s worth of meals on the weekend reminded me of the days when I had my “emergency” plans for food.

I was on a set amount of insulin and a set amount of carbohydrates at specific times during the day (no, it was not fun) and discovered I needed a contingency plan in case I was delayed for some reason. What could I grab on the way out the door to work? What would be a good meal to take for a flight somewhere? As I recall, peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, and individual packages of baby carrots played a large role in my plans.

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Cathy’s plan works — if you know how and/or like to cook and have time on the weekend to prepare meals ahead. Alas, not everybody knows, likes, and/or has time. In fact, some people are just plain hopeless. I still giggle when I recall an article in The Wall Street Journal from several years ago about people’s lack of knowledge about cooking. It noted that one food company took cooking instructions off canned food, but had to put them back on when too many people complained they didn’t know what to do. (Open can, pour contents into pan, heat.)

I know how to cook, like to cook, and have time to cook… but I can be lazy at times. For example, I’ve gone from peeling and slicing carrots to scrubbing and slicing carrots to opening a package of baby carrots and dumping them into the pot. I used to peel potatoes for soups, potato salad, and such. Now I use red potatoes, which don’t have to be peeled. Besides, the peel is good for you. Fiber, ya know.

Today’s grocery stores make it easy for the non- or lazy cook to prepare home-cooked meals. Preseasoned meats and fish need only be put into the oven or into a frying pan. Packaged salads come complete with the appropriate add-ins and dressing. Prediced onions and bell peppers are available in the frozen foods section. Prestuffed mushrooms? In the produce section beside the plain ones. And if you want to sauté some mushrooms, they come presliced for you.

Pizza, anyone? Skip the carbohydrate- and fat-laden pizza parlor fare and hit the grocery store aisles. Pick up a precooked pizza crust — or pita bread, English muffin, naan, or other kind of flat bread. There’s pizza sauce there somewhere. Perhaps near the tomatoes? Then go to the produce department and grab some onions, mushrooms, bell peppers (presliced and diced, if you want), zucchini, summer squash, or any other vegetable you want. Skip the fatty, stringy cheese and sprinkle on some Parmesan.

Pick up a roasted chicken from the deli and some prescrubbed potatoes to throw in the oven (or stop by a fast-food place that has baked potatoes on your way home and buy some). Grab some fresh vegetables in the produce section to sauté, or check out the frozen vegetable (almost as good as fresh) department. Don’t forget to check the nutrition label.

Take a day when you have some time to go through the grocery store and come up with ways to prepare a home-cooked meal without too much fuss. If you haven’t looked at what’s available lately, you might be pleasantly surprised.

There probably isn’t much of a reason not to enjoy a nice, home-cooked meal, even if you don’t really know how to cook. Or don’t like to.

Or if, like me, you’re just plain ol’ feeling lazy at times.

  • Cathy

    I use all the presliced and cleaned foods I can find. When I am in a jam I love to go to the deli in my supermarket and buy General Tsao’s chicken and a container of vegetable fried rice. These make 2 or 3 meals and they are delicious. My mother used to cringe when I bought single servings until I pointed out to her that they were so much easier to throw into a lunch bag and go. The other way involves finding a container the right size and slopping the food into the container and then washing the container when you got home from work. with single servings there is no washing up and they stay fresh way longer because they are not opened until you use them. Plus portion control for me is a big thing. I find that if I don’t plan at least loosely what I am going to eat for the week I will eat cereal every night for supper which not only is not really healthy but it doesn’t satisfy me and I am looking for something else almost immediately. I am a big fan of convenience food and thank goodness they are now making some healthy ones. I love the Healthy Choice fresh mixer dinners and keep one in my desk drawer in case I didn’t bring anything good for lunch or maybe I am not in the mood for what I brought. I don’t eat them everyday but they are a good change of pace. But more and more lately I prefer my own cooking to eating out – there is a lot of it but it just doesn’t taste that great.

  • Ephrenia

    I used to cook. I used to love to cook. Now my medical conditions prevent me from doing so. I still want fairly healthy foods, but pretty much have to rely on the microwave or the crock pot now.

    Some things I recommend for the microwave…
    Sam’s Club has a Members Mark Mesquite Grilled Chicken Breast, real meat, not a pressed and formed patty, Great flavor.
    Brookshires has a Fast Classics Grilled Hamburger Patty, real meat, great flavor and less grease than other brands I’ve tried. (Sams used to have a Members Mark and WalMart had a Great Value that was just as good but both have been discontinued.)

    Frozen or fresh veggies can be steamed in a ziplock baggie. Try putting pasta sauce and parmesan over steamed zucchini. Better than pasta!
    Steam a bag of broccolli, add shredded cheddar cheese and tuna.

    Be creative.

  • Pat Williams

    Loved your article about not cooking and yet getting home cooked(NOT)meals. I work full time, had had Type 2 diabetes for 22 years and am now “of a certain age(over 55)” where I am just plain tired of cooking every day. Thanks for the hints and for letting me know I am not LAZY just because I feel that way; it helps to know there are other folks who would rather eat than cook,too. Love it!!