Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday five: Meals that pay dividends

Looks like I've yet another reason to get excited for Fridays: the first fantasy football points of the week have been awarded!  It's my first year "playing" and I'm quickly understanding how people get so involved.  Matt's friend's wife (hi, Tam!) had the brilliant idea to form a league consisting of five husband and wife duos.  The plan is to see whose teams will come out on top -- the guys who do excessive amounts of research or the ladies who pick almost randomly.  Going into week 4, the women have a slight edge.  Peyton Manning is my guy!

Faux athletic ventures aside, I've been looking forward to Friday all week even more than usual.  There's just so much fun on tap for this weekend: Pitt's homecoming festivities are happening, complete with fireworks, football, and -- yep -- tailgating.  Plus, I'm running the Great Race with a few friends on Sunday morning and then hosting a brunch to celebrate.  It's my first race back since the busted butt and IT band injuries of the spring and summer, so I'm really itching to get out there!  In running-related news, I need this shirt:

With nonstop weekend plans sometimes including travel, chores like laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping have found a new home on weeknights.  For the time being, this means meals with less prep and more servings are getting major play in our kitchen.  If you're in the same boat, especially if you've got kids in every activity under the sun, this week's Friday five is right up your alley.

Here are some of my favorite meals that will make the most out of the effort you put into making them and yield plenty of servings for a few dinners and pack easily for lunches.  Anything to save a few minutes here and there, right?  Happy multi-tasking and happy weekend!

1. Burgers - All kinds!  I make these year-round thanks to the Griddler.  I usually form 4 burgers per 1 pound of ground meat, working with 2 or 3 pounds at a time.  Cook 'em all at once and enjoy for a few days.  They travel easily (with a bun in a separate Ziploc bag) and reheat well in a microwave at home or work.  Let me tell you, burgers are so much more satisfying in the middle of the day than a basic PB & J sandwich!

2. Enchiladas - Just like burgers, the portioning is already done for you in this complete meal.  Try ultimate chicken enchiladas or a savory pumpkin and bean version.  It's been a while since I made these, and thanks to the research for this post, I'm going to pick up the ingredients this weekend.

3. Herb-roasted pork loin - Though it takes a little time, it's mostly hands-off, thanks to overnight marinating and hands-off oven-roasting. Slice and store leftovers with some of the yummy juices from cooking to keep the meat moist in the refrigerator.  Reheat a few slices when hungry and pair with a simple salad or quick (frozen, even!) vegetable on the side.

4. Scoop-friendly salads & sandwiches - I can't tell you how many times this category of meals have saved the day for us during the week.  Sometimes I'll make a double recipe of curried chicken salad or Sloppy Joes, and keep it in the fridge to fuel lunches for a few days.  A scoop of it, plus a bun, bread, or even lettuce cups in a baggy, with a string cheese and piece of fruit makes assembling lunch a piece of cake.  Plus, dishes like this only get better with time as the flavors get a chance to marry.  Check out similar recipes like cranberry and walnut chicken salad and fall quinoa with apple cider dressing.

5. Quiche - My all-time #1 meal that pays dividends.  Fill with whatever ingredients suit your fancy, bake, and enjoy whenever.  Cold, room temperature, or reheated for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!  Real men AND women eat quiche, folks :)

Bonus!  Lasagna - Because I couldn't create a list of recipes that pay dividends without including lasagna.  I turn to it time and time again when I know we'll have a busy week and need quick and filling one pot meals.  On hectic nights, I'm so thankful to have a comforting dinner that's hot and ready in a minute thanks to the microwave.  Try my favorite classic lasagna, rich portobello lasagna, lasagna roll-ups, or tortilla-based Mexican lasagna.


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