Fast food is seldom good food, and if it is good food, it’s expensive. Considering that most single dads without a publishing credit for the song “Happy” are on a budget, how can we eat smart for less? What are our options?
I keep it simple: BJ’s Wholesale Club and my George Foreman Grill.
I sneak into BJ’s as early as possible and snatch up some variation of the following:
- a 50-lb. pack of chicken breasts, pork chops or steak;
- five-gallon drums of soy sauce, minced garlic or whatever premixed marinade; and
- Hefty bag-sized packages of frozen sweet potato fries, fresh broccoli, zucchini and spinach
I’m kidding about the sizes, but I’m writing about BJ’s. No one goes there to buy a single onion because they only sell them by the truckload.
When I get the stuff home, I prep the meat as follows:
- wash it;
- use a steak knife or ice pick to perforate it;
- divide it into two or more groups, each of which I place into a large Baggie;
- prepare a different marinade for each Baggie, my favorite being the soy sauce and minced garlic;
- apply these marinades to the respective Baggies; and
- seal the Baggies up, throw some in the fridge and the rest in the freezer
After a couple of hours, the meat in the fridge will be ready for the grill.
Veggies are easy. I wash them, slice or chop the zucchini, broccoli and spinach then drop portions of each into storage bins.
When it’s time to cook, I preheat my oven to 425°, line a baking tray with tin foil, spray it with vegetable oil, pour out a batch of frozen sweet potato fries into the tray, then let that cook for 20-30 minutes, turning the fries at the half-way mark.
Next, I lay out two large pieces of tin foil on a counter and spray them both with vegetable oil. I drop a portion of veggies into one piece of foil, sprinkle it with adobo, pepper and a little lemon juice, then spread out three slices of butter on top. I wrap the foil into a packet around the veggies. I plug in the grill, then place the foil packet on the upper section of the grill closest to the hinge and let it cook. The packet allows the veggies to cook in a mixture of butter, lemon juice and seasonings.
I place the second piece of foil on the lower half of the grill furthest from the hinge. I make sure there is enough to fold over to protect the upper jaw of the grill during cooking while not overlapping the veggie packet. I throw my marinated meat on the second sheet of foil, fold that over the meat, then close the grill.
At this point, my sweet potato fries are about half done. I pull them out of the oven, flip ’em and put ’em back in for another 10-15 minutes. I use the down time to clean up.
Within the next 15 minutes, I have a seriously appetizing, nutritious meal ready to eat.
Within 25 minutes, I have an empty plate and not a whole lot to clean up. See, the foil has protected the grill surface. After cooking, the foil can be tossed and a quick wipe down of the grill is all the cleaning to be done.
Next, I slip on pumps, a string of pearls and vacuum the living room!