Food You Can Use

January 11, 2010

Whether you’re a working mom or not, time always seems to be an issue with everyone you speak with. “I’m so busy” has become such a mantra that I pretty much tune it out. I just assume everyone is over-scheduled to within an inch of their lives and go from there. So instead of going into a downward “woe’s me” spiral, I’m always looking for ways to save time yet still lead a quality life. One of those ways is Trader’s Joe’s. Yes, you could go out to eat most nights, or order in takeout, but those both get quite costly and, because you have no idea what’s really going into the meals’ preparation, can actually be very unhealthy. So as much as I can during the week, I like to cook dinner. But let’s be honest, it’s not always possible to do a complicated meal from scratch. That’s where Trader Joe’s comes in.

If you have freezer space, there’s a lot to love at Trader Joe’s. I like keeping a bunch of their things on hand, and where I might make a full home-cooked meal once or twice a week, I supplement the other nights with things I’ve bought there. I find adding things to them makes them a little healthier and tastier. For instance, their Mandarin Orange Chicken. I follow the baking instructions (rather than frying) for the chicken, but I also make brown rice and take broccoli, cook it in the microwave with the enclosed sauce, and then mix it together with the chicken to make a tasty, hearty meal. I like their stir-frys a lot too, and you can add lots of vegetables to make it more filling. You can also take some of their Vodka sauce in a jar, pair it with eggplant and put it over some pasta for a great meal. They sell frozen fish that, while it may not be as tasty as fresh, defrosts easily and makes a delicious meal. Their Mexican offerings, particularly their mini chicken tacos, are always crowd pleasers, especially for kids.

There’s also great side dishes, like dumplings (which are always sold out at the one we go to), mushroom risotto and garlic mashed potatoes, which are flakes that come in a box but I promise almost out-taste the freshly boiled. Their Fiesta Layer Dip is so good with their baked tortilla chips, their Joe’s O’s have less sugar than Cheerios, and their peanut butter-filled pretzels are dangerously addictive.

The best thing to do is to go and browse, try things you like and get creative with what you can add to fill out a meal. We went yesterday and I got some peanut sauce to try and make a version of chicken satay one night this week and spinach pie (reduced fat!) that will be a tasty evening with a side salad.. Most things cost $5 or less, and even the fish and poultry mostly come in under $10. I don’t think you can do your whole shop here, but once or twice a month it’s worth a stop in to make your busy life a little bit better.

DC Drama

Have you been following the recent salacious stories about the White House Budget Director, Peter Orszag? This self-described nerd is a bit of a playa. He split with his first wife, with whom he has 2 kids. Then he got another girlfriend pregnant, left her, started dating yet another woman, the first girlfriend gave birth and now he’s engaged to the second. Messy? Sure seems that way. The fact that the NY Times is writing about the Budget Director’s baby mamma drama just might be one of the signs of the apocalypse.

Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Goodbye

Jay, we hardly knew ye. As of February 11th, Jay Leno’s nightly primetime experiment will cease to broadcast. Apparently, however cheao it is to produce, quality and viewership do matter. (Go figure!) The future from there is unclear — apparently Conan O’Brien is (understandably) not happy about pushing his show back half an hour for Jay. So word is if he doesn’t agree, NBC has told him to pack up and take it elsewhere. Apparently Fox is interested. It’s just all so messy. I love it! I’m sure it will all work out, with golden parachutes all around. (The rumor was that if NBC didn’t give Conan the Tonight Show by the date they had promised, there was a poison pill in the contract giving him $40 million. $40 million!)

Etc.

I went to a funeral today, so that kind of puts a damper on things. Or at least some perspective.

I broke my record and spent over $400 yesterday at Target. There weren’t really any big ticket items, which makes it all the more crazy. A 12 pack of paper towels — I think that was my biggest splurge. Lots of cleaning supplies, snacks, cereal, drugstore items. It just all adds up. I had two packed carts, and the woman who checked me out was the most diligent cashier ever. She wouldn’t let me put any bags in my cart until everything was out. Which means I had bags and bags piling up by her register. And then Ken disappeared to take Addison to the bathroom, leaving Austin and me awash in bags. Then I had to come home and put it all away! But we’re stocked and ready to go.

Nice to hang out with the kids — hope you all had a great weekend!

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