When I was a stay-at-home mum, I used to cook six days a week. Now that I’m working, this isn’t possible. For the first two months of working life, I catered food. For RM310 per month (weekdays only) to feed my family of six, it is a pretty good deal. There is no need to do marketing, prepare the ingredients and cook. All I need was two tiffin carriers for the caterer to load the food in. The problem is that my family can be quite choosy in their food intake. One day, there was cuttle fish cooked in chilli, four-angled beans and braised tau kwa. Of these three dishes, only the tau kwa suits our palate. We don’t like cuttle fish and four-angled beans, so our dog had a feast thanks to our pickiness.
After we stopped catering, it was economy rice galore. Every day we’d ta pau some dishes from the stall. We can choose what we like to eat, yet the family complained that the food tastes different from home-cooked meals. What a choosy bunch of eaters! In any case, eating out every other meal is no fun and isn’t very healthy either, what with the msg and all.
Now we’ve struck a compromise. On busy days especially those two days when I have to work nights, it is outside food. On other days, we eat simple home-cooked meals. For those of you who are in the same predicament, you may like to try out some of these ideas. If you have any fast and easy meals to share, please do.
1. Put chicken and herbal ingredients in crock pot in the morning. In the evening, stir-fry some vegetables and open up a can of beans or fry some eggs to eat with rice.
2. Bah-kut-teh can be prepared in the crock pot too. Supplement with fast to cook vegetables such as lettuce. This can be stir-fried or added to the stew itself. If you’re doing the latter, it’s better to add the vegetables in a separate bowl of gravy so as not to alter the taste of the stew.
3. Spaghetti bolognaise. Dump a can of sauce, vegetables such as carrots, onions, potatoes even and minced meat into crock pot. Add an extra can of water and season with sugar and salt to taste. You can boil the spaghetti just before the meal or boil it in advance and refrigerate it before leaving the house.
4. Pasta with white sauce. Dump a can of sauce (Prego is a good choice) and add in diced chicken pieces, carrots, potatoes and a can of water. You can eat it with pasta or bread.
5. ABC noodle soup. Put chicken or pork, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and onions into crock pot with sufficient water for making noodle soup. When you get home, transfer the soup into a pot for boiling over the stove. Add noodles to the stock. Yee mee, mee hoon or mee suah are good choices.
6. If you have no time to prepare any of the above, you can still customise a nice meal from dishes bought at the economy rice stall. Choose a dish with gravy, say chicken or pork slices in black sauce. Make sure you spoon in extra gravy. When you get home, boil some egg noodles. Drain away the water. In the same pot, add in the meat and gravy. Throw in some vegetables such as butterhead lettuce. Mix well and serve.
7. For a change, hot dogs or burgers would do nicely if you have young kids. For a faster and healthier alternative, boil the sausages instead of frying them. Burger patties can be put into the oven but you’ve got to watch the oven so that the meat don’t burn.
Now we only eat more fanciful meals on Mondays when it is my off-day. We had Quiche Lorraine last Monday. I still have plenty of Calrose rice so maybe we’ll have sushi next Monday. Today we’ll have steam boat. Bon appetit.
P/S: Baking bread now only happens once in a blue moon when the urge to eat home-baked bread strikes and when I’m in the mood. The above picture showed my last attempt at baking buns which was a couple of months back – when the moon turned blue.