Instant Summer Meals! Pre-grilled Chops and Yummy Almost Instant Veggies

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On hot summer days, we are huge fans of nearly instant dinners! And I thought it might be fun to share a few of our "instant dinner" tricks!

Actually, we prepare "instant dinners" all year round, but especially in summer when we have so much yummy local produce available!

Pork chops - our favorite grilled meat! My sweetie grills a whole family pack or two at a time. Once cooled, we place wax paper between two chops, wrap in plastic wrap, place in a freezer bag with several packages of two chops each and freeze! (The wax paper makes it easy to separate the chops while frozen!)

It only takes a few minutes to thaw the chops (using the microwave defrost setting) and then heat in the microwave oven when we want a quick meal that includes meat!

Pork lends itself to this pre-cook, freeze and re-heat treatment quite well. Just be sure to defrost using the defrost function on your microwave and then heat for only 30 sec. to 1 minute to prevent drying out your pork. It is important that you use cuts that have a higher fat content like shoulder steaks or loin chops (t-bones). You may want to experiment with various cuts before committing to a family pack!

We have also grilled boneless chicken thighs and frozen them for later use with very good success. Breast meat works too, but take extra special care not to overcook the meat when defrosting and reheating. Chicken can get tough very easily in the microwave.

Beef steak - not such a good idea!

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Nearly instant meals don't require eating raw veggies! There are lots of veggies that are quick and easy to prepare!

Bake russet, yukon gold or sweet potatoes(yams) in the microwave. Russets and yukon gold potatoes take about 10 minutes to "bake" - 5 minutes per side - and sweet potatoes take less time - 5 minutes on one side and 3 on the other. The times are for two medium size to large potatoes (not huge). If you are cooking three or four or more at a time, you will need more time.

Sweet potatoes are so easy and delicious prepared this way and are a much healthier choice than white potatoes. Give them a try!

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Did you know you could cook corn in the microwave? Our friends at the Pumpkin Patch taught us this one! (They also provided all the lovely veggies you see in most of these pictures!)

Remove the husks and silk, wrap each ear in a paper towel, and pop in the microwave! 5 minutes on high for one to three ears. Add a minute or two for more ears. So easy!

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Broccoli and cauliflower! Not everyone loves them! But for those who do, they are very quick and easy to cook and are a powerhouse of vitamin rich goodness!

Simply break the heads into flowerets and then cut each floweret in half. Simmer in a saucepan with about an inch of water for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain. Sprinkle with your favorite seasoning ( I love Penzey's Sandwich Sprinkle or Sunny Paris and then grate your favorite cheddar on top. Replace the lid for a couple minutes and done!

Of course, broccoli and cauliflower are great raw too - especially dipped in a little ranch dressing!

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Summer squash! Three of four minutes to cook!

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Bragging a little! my first ever zucchini! I am so proud!

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Easy and quick! Slice your summer squash and a tomato or two. Heat a little olive oil and toss your squash and tomatoes into the skillet. Stir for about 5 minutes. Toss in one or two cloves of garlic, chopped, a teaspoon or so of Italian Seasoning ( I love Penzey's ) and salt and pepper to taste. Cook another minute.

Or! Slice zucchini, place in a microwave proof bowl, add a couple teaspoons of water and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning. I use Penzy's Sandwich Sprinkle! Microwave on high for about 5 to 6 minutes.

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Rinse and drain about 1 pound of green or wax beans. Snap off the stem end and break in two pieces. (Or leave whole - what ever your preference) Place in salted boiling water for 5 to 6 minutes.

While the beans cook, mince two to three cloves garlic and chop about two tablespoons of fresh parsley.

Melt about 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet.

A soon as the beans are cooked to the point that they are beginning to soften, drain thoroughly and add to the skillet. Toss with the butter and cook until the beans are nice a hot. Add the garlic and parsley. Generously salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring constantly so garlic doesn't burn, for about 1 more minute. Serve. OMG this is absolutely Diane's and my favorite recipe for green beans! In our opinion, the more garlic the better!

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Make a quick salad or slice up an avocado or tomato and cucumber. Easy and delicious!

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Beets? Quick? NOT!

But - beet greens and chard and spinach - great choices for quick meals! I happen to adore beet greens, but they are a little strong for some people so spinach and chard may be better choices.

Spinach only requires thorough washing before cooking. Chard is better if you remove the thick rib, including most of the rib in the center of the leaf. Tear the leaves into pieces.

Cut a couple pieces of bacon into pieces and fry in a skillet with a couple tablespoons of chopped onion until the onion is softened and bacon is beginning to brown - but not crisp. Toss in the greens, mix with the bacon/onion and cover. Cook on low for 5 minutes (spinach) to 10 minutes (chard or beet greens), stirring a few times. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Now about those golden beets! They are really yummy! They are easy to prepare - just takes more time.

Remove all but 1" of the stem and most of the root (but leave about 1" of that also). Wash the beets and then place in a large pot of boiling water. Simmer for 1 hour. Remove beets and cool to room temperature.

Cooked beets can be stored in the fridge for a day or two if you like. When ready to use, remove the skins, stems and root. Cut the root and stem off the beet and the skin literally just slips right off! Slice and heat. We season with a bit of salt and pepper but really, that is all they need! The golden beets have a wonderful flavor.

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My sweetie's idea of "instant breakfast" right out of hie garden!

Anyone with more ideas for instant meals? Won't you either share them here or share a link to your own site with a recipe for an instant meal.

So glad I saw this today! I

So glad I saw this today! I need to cook a family pack of pork chops but I wasn't sure if I could freeze the extras. Love your veggie ideas too.:)

The squash and tomatoes with

The squash and tomatoes with garlic and seasoning sounds SO good. Love the brocolli idea too. I need fast and easy....I don't really LOVE to cook much anymore.
Thanks!!!

Wow! Great tips! I bought a

Wow! Great tips! I bought a bunch of plastic storage containers that have compartments in them. I put left overs from dinner in them, wrap with plastic wrap and pop in the freezer. Then we have TV dinners for lunches or quick dinners. I also found that we can freeze breakfast burritos or tacos. I wrap them individually in plastic wrap and put them in freezer bags. Then the kids pop them in the microwave for a couple minutes and have a nice lunch or snack whenever they want.

Thanks Robin! I love the idea

Thanks Robin! I love the idea of making your own TV dinners and this is a perfect solution for those times when we only have a dab of this and a bit of that - not enough for two people.  But perfect for a future dinner!  I am thinking the compartments could be filled a little at a time - left over chop here, some green beans there and a glob of sweet potatoes another time.  What a great idea!

And freezing breakfast burritos!  OMG!  This is the perfect solution to our need for a quick but protein rich before wedding shoot breakfast!  I'm thinking I will make up a bunch and have them on hand all season.

Again, thanks so much for these really helpful tips for instant meals!

So many wonderful tips...

So many wonderful tips... Thanks Pam!

Beautiful images and loads of

Beautiful images and loads of great tips too. I'll have to try the microwave for sweet potatoes. I'm exceedingly jealous of your amazing blueberries.
BTW I love your first zucchini. I grew my first myself this year too :)

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