“Eating crappy food isn’t a reward — it’s a punishment.” Drew Carey, American comedian
When it was just my husband and I, and we were both working more than full time, it was tough to get dinner on the table. By the time I had worked all day and driven home, I didn’t really feel like cooking even though I love kitchen time.
But, I still felt like eating, of course!
So, during that season of life, I learned how to “leftover” instead of cook. When I arrived home, I reheated and plated the nourishing dinner I had prepared and refrigerated the night before. We’d eat at a reasonable time, enjoy the evening and, only then, did I cook. For the next night’s dinner!
It was a bit odd — this day-ahead scheduling — but it was healthier and less expensive than take out or something frozen.
Another way we handled the time crunch of post-work meals was crock potting. I worked about 20 minutes away from our home, but my husband’s office was only a five-minute commute. He stopped home at lunch to eat and let the dog out. That was a perfect time for him to turn on the crock pot, as well.
To make this work, I assembled the ingredients the night before and put them in a glass container. When he came home, he just emptied the container’s contents into the crock pot, put on the lid and turned the knob to high. By evening, dinner was ready.
Today’s recipe — which is really more a springboard for ideas than a list of ingredients, measures and methods — is yet another way to deal with end-of-the-workday meals. It’s a simple, delicious assembly — shared with my family by Phyllis, a neighbor and friend.
She was going for specific nutrients but, given the change of season, apple chunks (peel on) could also be used instead of strawberries.
Try it! These types of meals really can work — keeping you nourished even when you don’t really feel like doing so much as lifting a spoon.
Start with a green (pre-washed baby spinach in this case). Add fresh fruit (strawberries here, but apple chunks, orange segments and grapes can also work well; go with what’s in season to save on costs). Add some dried fruit (chopped dates here) and nuts (roasted almonds here).
Toss the lot with a vinaigrette and you have “made” the heart of a dinner without actually cooking anything. Add some hearty bread and hummus and you’ve got a real meal in no time at all.
A side note: If you are cooking for one or two, keep the salad ingredients separate until eating and you can get at least a couple nights out of a salad like this.