Standby Meals: What to eat when there’s nothing to eat.


It drives me insane when Greg goes to the fridge and tells me there’s nothing to eat. What he really means is there’s nothing ready made (or fattening) to eat.

Ask anyone who’s been to my house, my pantry and freezers are full. I try to keep two of everything so I never run out of anything. Except for the holidays, I don’t keep candy or sweets in the house, but that’s not to say we couldn’t bake a cake or cookies.

Although I write a menu every week, sometimes life gets in the way. I try to be flexible. If we’re far from home, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat out. If we’re out later than I expect, Greg knows I’ll change that night’s fare to something I can make quickly.

For this reason, there’s always pasta, rice, and frozen quickies like eggrolls, sausages, and bacon. My ground beef is always prepacked into patties, so they defrost quickly. Shrimp is an old standby. I can make a shrimp pasta in under 30 minutes.

When I’m busy I rely on “fast” foods. Below is my list of quick meals.

• Shrimp pasta: Add some basil or spinach, minced garlic, and butter to the pasta and you have a delicious meal.

• Spaghetti with tomato-based sauce: I dress up my sauces with dehydrated tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, and occasionally sausage.

• BLT: I buy bacon in the biggest packs I can find. (The unit pricing is cheaper.) I divide it up into packages of five pieces each. Three for Greg, two for me. Each package can be defrosted in the microwave in under sixty seconds, and then fried normally. BLTs in under 15 minutes.

• Peanut butter and jelly: I love peanuts but the texture of peanut butter makes me gag. Just jelly for me if we need a fast snack.

• Grilled Cheese sandwiches: It can’t get much easier than this. Nice thick bread and a good quality cheese. Add a little bowl of soup and you’re set.

• Quesadillas: I actually use this standby for breakfast. A quesadilla is grilled cheese on a tortilla. Sometimes I add thinly sliced beef if I have some leftover from a previous meal. Peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, and spinach dress up drab quesadillas.

• Pita sandwiches: I love this when my garden is overflowing with veggies. I fry (or grill) eggplant, squash, spinach and onions. Load them into a split pita bread, and add a little cheese. For Greg I usually have to add some kind of meat or he grumbles.

• Fried Rice: I actually don’t make this often enough. I love it with shrimp, but any meat will do. Throw in an eggroll on the side if you need more food.

• Taco salad: There’s always lettuce in the house. I coarsely chop the lettuce, and tomatoes. Two ground beef patties are then chopped up and fried with taco seasoning, diced onions and peppers. On top of this is a big wedge of avocado and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese. The whole meal is ready in under 20 minutes.

• Tacos: Same idea as above but with corn tortillas. On a platter, I layer thinly sliced lettuce, diced onions, tomato, jalapeno peppers, and grated cheddar cheese. Everyone can make his own tacos. Easy dinner in under 20 minutes.

• Rice Bowl: This is similar to the taco salad except that rice is your base instead of lettuce.

• Sausage on a roll: We keep various types of sausages in the freezer and only take them out as we need them. A little defrosting in the microwave and then cook normally. A friend recently gifted us with deer sausage that was amazing. Whoever made that sausage knew what he was doing. This is a super quick meal. You can be sitting down and eating in under 15 minutes.

• Burgers: This is the one item I prefer to have thawed naturally. I eat my beef rare, so no microwaving for me. We can eat in under 20 minutes.

What do you think of the list? Is there anything you’d add?

Out of curiosity, how do you like your beef cooked? You know, in case you come over for barbecue. 🙂

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  1. I definitely want to start eating more pita sandwiches. We’ve just started getting into that kind of thing, and I’m looking forward to loading them up with grilled veggies and feta cheese – yum!

    And I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! I would eat them every day if I could. 🙂

  2. Darke Conteur

    We opt for finger foods some nights, especially during the hot summer months. Celery with cheese spread or peanut butter, cut fruit, etc. It’s quick and easy to put together.

  3. I like my beef well done, maybe a touch of pink 🙂

    All good meals you featured here. I’m going to “steal” them for nights I need something quick to go to. Our quick to go to meals are TV dinners or frozen pizza. Our lives are so routine at the moment that pretty much what I plan week to week we stick with, but its good to have a stock of items available to use if things change.


  4. Hubby loves my hamburger goulash. It’s so easy, I don’t mind making it, either. And with the way things are turning out, I may be cooking for the next couple of months–lots of soft food.

    Oh, and I like my beef cooked. No mooing for me. 🙂

  5. Pasta or risotto are our quick go-to meals and in summer, it’s a huge salad with whatever we have available in the garden and fridge. For hubby, who can’t do without meat, as long as he has chickens in the freezer, he can whip up a fairly quick meal.

  6. I like your list, Maria. My three lazy/quick standbyes are a) Scrambled eggs on toast/sardines on toast/ Baked beans on toast that’s saturated with good extra virgin olive oil, topped with lashings of black pepper. I’m salivating now, so I’ll stop – but not before giving you my steak preference, black on the outside, reddish within.

  7. We like ground beef mixed in with baked beans served over toast. Or wings served with sharp cheddar and fruit. My only problem is if something is quick and easy to make, it’s probably already been scarfed down by bottomless-pit grandson on one of his drive-by snack attacks.

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