Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cop Out Dinner

Every week on Wednesday (or Thursday - - depending on how my Wednesday has gone) I plan a menu. I do my grocery shopping on Thursday. (The Thursday shopping rarely gets bumped to Friday, because, well, Friday in the grocery store? I'm not a complete psycho!)

Most of the time I'm pretty optimistic and include at least 3 or 4 crock pot dinners. On Wednesdays the world is my oyster(!), or at least my long term cooking appliance.

But let's face it, I do not get up every day and follow the 10am rule like I'm supposed to. The 10am rule was made up by a cousin of mine who writes organizational books, and it says something like: By 10am, you must either make preparations or reservations.

(Apparently crazy does run in my family, thanks for asking.)

So basically one or two nights a week I end up in a situation where it's 4:00, and all I have left on my menu is crock pot dinners. ("Why do I keep doing this?" you ask. Let's not call me stupid, ok? I prefer the term optimistically challenged.)

And I end up with a Cop Out Meal. - And don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about, either. It's the meal you always have ingredients for and can produce in a 15-20 minute window. That's right, faster than you can get a pizza, although arguably about the same nutritional value.

The two I cycle through are Spaghetti, and then cheese sandwiches with tomato soup. And people, the natives around here are getting restless.

I also keep a frozen lasagna in the freezer, but it's sort of a game to me to see how long I can go without using it. Yes, lasagna has become a symbol of defeat.

So help me to NOT USE THE lasagna! I have 2 more days of crock pot meals this week, and I know I'm going to forget to put at least one of them in.

I'm asking you for either your own cop out meal idea, or to email me every 15 minutes tomorrow morning and remind me to put dinner in the crock pot. Your choice!

Please, don't make me use the lasagna. I don't think my fragile ego can take it this week.


Dave said...


The best cop out meal is Breakfast for dinner.

You know, pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs. You get your major food groups (except fruit and vegetable, and I don't even know why that's a group), and everyone likes the novelty and yumminess of syrup for dinner.

"Is there sugar in syrup?"
"Then YES, [I like syrup]!!" - Buddy the Elf

goddessdivine said...

I do cop-out meals all the time.

And I was totally thinking what Dave was thinking: Breakfast for dinner. French toast, eggs, and sausage. Yum! (Or pancakes, waffles, etc).

I also love me some thick and creamy Kraft Mac and Cheese. If I'm really good, a put a salad and a veggie with it.

Hamburger helper anyone? Ok, I realize it's not that fabulous, but it's EASY! Throw together a salad and veggie, and even some Pillsbury Crescent rolls and voila! (Also, Bisquick makes excellent and easy biscuits).

Marie Calenders Chicken Pot Pies. (You can buy in bulk from Costco). Easy AND nutritious.

Also from Costco: Egg rolls. Mix up some Rice-a-Roni and some Sweet and Sour sauce, and you've got yourself a little Chinese dinner.

Ok, so I'm the queen of cop-out meals.....

LisAway said...

I have two I make a lot posted on my blog you can find them HERE and HERE. I also make this recipe quite a lot. These are three of my go-to super fast recipes that we all like.

I'm coming back here to see what others suggest!

JustRandi said...

Oh, yeah. I forgot about breakfast for dinner! I do like that occasionally. But it doesn't really feel like dinner to me.

Heather of the EO said...

I do this all the time. Crockpot forgetfulness stinks.

I have no suggestions. I'm all about the freezer in these times.

I like the breakfast for dinner idea though. We do that here and there. Nothing faster really.

Annette Lyon said...

Tacos are one of my quickie dinners. I also love Costco's frozen chicken garlic pasta thing. It's a meal in a bag, and the kids love it. Other cop-out meals: fish sticks or chicken strips.

Liv said...

Any kind of pasta! Ravioli, tortelini, or even just noodles of some variety with sauce or butter.

I also like to just shake and bake chicken breasts or pork chops. It only takes about 20 minutes to cook and you can heat up some instant potatoes or veggies to go with it.

Paul said...

Frozen meatballs. Spaghetti sauce. Grated mozzarella cheese with enough preservatives to give it an expiration date of 2014. A loaf of French (or Italian) bread. Meatball sandwiches.


The Miller Family said...

BLT's with frozen french fries!

The fries take like 20 minutes in the oven, and you can do the bacon in the oven at the same time (no turning, no burning, yesss!). Toast the bread and cut the lettuce and tomato in the meantime, and in less than 20 minutes, a yummy dinner is ready!

Laura said...

Around here, we do the standard mac n cheese, either fish sticks or plain baked chicken breast, and green beans. Easy, quick, kid-friendly, and somewhat nutritious! Good Luck!

The Pollocks! said...

Well, I have two that I use a lot. One is stroganoff (I don't know how to spell that) - boil some egg noodles. Put two cans of canned beef (from the cannery)(or brown some hamburger), 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup and 2 cups of sour cream into a pan and heat through. Ta da!

Or I do a version of Parmesan Chicken where I chop up some chicken into bite sized pieces and put them into a casserole dish with a can or two of spaghetti sauce. (Chopped up chicken cooks a lot faster than whole breasts). (Or use cooked chicken or turkey - this was an easy leftover turkey recipe after thanksgiving!) Mix a little grated Parmesan cheese into it (or any kind of cheese - I use Monterrey jack - whatever I have on hand) and let it bake for 30 minutes or so at 350 (oh - cover it with foil - spaghetti sauce all over the oven isn't nice). When the chicken is baked through, uncover and put some mozzarella cheese on the top to melt and serve over spaghetti noodles.

Becky said...

Sandwiches! Just so it's not quite so boring, I make several different kinds and cut them into triangles (because for some reason they taste better as triangles than squares).

PB&J, tomato, meat and cheese, egg salad, grilled cheese. Go wild, baby!

Nachos are quick, too, and not at all good for you, so obviously they will taste great.

Tay said...

Sloppy joes, but the great kind. Like a poor man's chopped brisket - so good. You need as much hamburger as you need to get everybody fed, your favorite BBQ sauce, and some ketchup. After the hamburger is browned the way you like (seasoned with chili powder, onions, garlic, and salt!) add a good amount of ketchup and BBQ sauce. No specific amount, just to taste. I also chop up zucchini and brown it with the hamburger to make it good for you. Then use whatever bread you have on hand and whatever vegetable is easiest. This takes maybe 20 minutes. more like 15.

Janell said...

My life is co-out meals. I have this great little book called, "15 Minute Gourmet for One," (or something like that) which is 60 good recipes (most with two or three variations) for one person. The problem? Well - it's for 1 person. And the time slot doesn't account for things like "side dishes" that so many people seem to think necessary to create a dinner.

My favorite quick-y recipe that scales pretty well:

* 1 can of apricot nectar (usually found in the Mexican aisle)
* However many chicken breasts you can submerge in the nectar
* Splash of soy sauce
* 3/4 package of onion soup powder (or just a lot of dried onions and a lot of salt)

Marinate everything all together for however long you can wait. 15 minutes if that's all you have. An hour is better. If longer than an hour reduce the amount of onion soup you put in the mix. Broil breasts 8 minutes on 1 side, flip, and continue to broil until finished (usually 5 min, but it depends on how thick the chicken is.)

Et voila. Tasty, tasty chicken.

Serve with rice if that suits your fancy.
Bag O Lettuce can qualify as a vegetable.

And um, yeah, I'm not one for measuring things. Sorry.

Dave said...

Totally forgot about Parmesan Chicken. I loved this as a kid. Our version has the breaded chicken patties in the frozen section, with a little red sauce and a slice of cheese on top. Bake it in the oven and its fast and easy.

Becky N. said...

Waffles & eggs is our major cop-out meal. All it takes is some self-rising flour, an egg, some oil, and milk, and voila! There's your waffles. Scramble or fry some eggs while the waffles are in the iron, and you're good to go.

Sausage gravy & biscuits:
Brown a pound of bulk breakfast sausage, then add 2-3 tbsp flour to coat, then add about 2-4 cups of milk (depending on preference), and cook, stirring frequently, until it thickens into a gravy. Make some quick biscuits, and you're set. While biscuits are easy, they're also messy, so I often have some refrigerated biscuits on hand.

And if I just can't get creative, I will pull out some frozen chicken breasts, thaw in the microwave, and cook on the stovetop with soy sauce and water until the thickest part is 163 degrees, let it rest until 165, and then it will be super flavorful and tender. Add some rice and some cooked frozen veggies on the side, and it makes a decent meal. I often cook my rice along with a seasoning packet (like the kind you can find next to the McCormick gravy packets) for extra flavor.

There's also a skillet dinner that I've come to rely on often, ever since my mother-in-law taught me how to do it:
~.5 - 1 pound of ground beef (make sure it's 85-95%, so you get less grease), browned along with sliced onions and celery, make sure veggies are tender and meat cooked thoroughly.
-Add cooked rice (usually around 4-6 cups worth), stir it all together while frying it a little bit longer, and season with salt & pepper to taste. It seems overly simple, but I love it. It's a good one-dish meal, filling, and I like the combo of flavors. Some of hubby's brothers won't eat it with celery, and prefer peas instead.

In the mean time, I'm supposed to be planning my meals right now, but I'm feeling SO in a rut and don't know what I want to eat for the next week.

"Q" said...

4 ingredient whole entire meal...

Set oven to 350. Put medium size potatoes in to bake. Put chicken pieces in a pan pour BBQ sauce over the top. Bake @ 350 for 45 minutes. Serve with green beans.

Tips: Wait ten minutes before putting chicken in oven this gives the potatoes a head start. I kinda pile the sauce up on each piece of chicken so that it will caramelize.

Janelle's recipe sound heavenly!

mormonhermitmom said...

We've done just about all those cop outs. I also like having hoagie sandwich stuff available with the rolls in the freezer. The older kids make their own sandwiches, and my picky eater eats pickles. So I guess that makes him my pickly eater.

Stephanette said...

CM and I love kid friendly food.

We do pigs in the blanket with Mac & Cheese and frozen raviolis with alfredo sauce and garlic bread or chili cheese dogs/frito pie with canned chili.

Lena said...

Stuffed potatoes! Bake the potatoes (you're starting at 4 so there's time!). Brown the ground beef and onions. Stuff it in the cooked potatoes and put some chees- any kind- on top and stick it all back in the oven until it melts. Wah-lah! And you can call it French Stuffed Potatoes if you want.

Yvonne said...

I'll e-mail you tomorrow to remind you--I'm always using my crock pot ; )

kristi said...

our main two (other than spaghetti), are tacos - And I always have the good stuff on hand to make it seem like it's not a cop out, guacomole in the freezer, and I try to always have limes and cilantro in the fridge, add that with olives and homemade salsa and we are almost gourmet!
our other is french bread pizza. I try to always have a loaf of french bread in the freezer. Add some spaghetti sauce (from last nights cop out dinner . . .) and some pepperoni (lasts forever in the fridge), and some mozerella and parmesan, some pizza seasoning, and ta da! We always cut the loaf in thirds horizontally. two thirds pizza, one third dessert pizza - cinnamon sugar and butter.
tacos are on the menu for tonight!

kristi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lauren said...

I am still in the newly-wed "no easy meals ever!" stage. But, I did invent something that I made for Ted for a snack...it was super good!

Just lay a tortilla on a baking sheet, spread some marinara sauce on top, top with mozzarella and any toppings you like. Sprinkle oregano and basil on top, then bake for like 10 minutes. Soooo good!

Heidi Ashworth said...

Wait! Hold the presses! Did you say that one need be prepared for what one is to cook for dinner that night by 10 AM or their goose is cooked? (tho not literally because that would be "prepared" not "unprepared"). No wonder we eat so much lasagna around here!!!

ksta623 said...

One I make that my kids love and it takes about 20 minutes is chicken noodle casserole in a pan:

Boil one pound pasta (any kind)until soft. Drain and add one can cream of chicken soup, a can of chicken or tuna, a couple tablespoons re-hydrated dried chopped onion (micro-cook in a bit of water in a glass bowl) or powdered onion, a splash or two of milk to thin it down--then mix in about a cup or so of grated cheese (sharp cheddar is the best but use whatever you have.) Stir and heat it through and serve with frozen veggies--cooked, of course.

Beverly said...

Chicken Pot Pie:
1 can mixed veggies, drained
1 can cream of mushroom or chicken soup
1 small can boneless chicken, drained
2 frozen pie shells

Defrost pie shells, Mix all other ingredients together. Place in one shell and put the other on top. Crimp edges. Bake at 375 for 30 min.

Erin said...

I just found your blog today--very entertaining! I almost always have the ingredients for fried rice on hand which we are having tonight since I am not going to the grocery in a snow storm. Fry onions, celery, frozen edamame beans, chicken or ham, pepper, whatever you have. Add cooked rice. once heated through, push to the side and scramble a few eggs. Add salt and soy sauce to taste...

the MomBabe said...

Burritos. Beans, cheese, onions, enchilada sauce, and tortilla's. Yum.

The other thing I do: Instant rice, can of black bean soup, cheese.

Cook the rice (5 minutes) Heat the soup (5 minutes). Put a scoop of rice on a plate, cover it with the soup, sprinkle with cheese, SO SO GOOD.

the MomBabe said...

Oh, and sometimes I do a quick soup and Bisquick biscuits.

favorite easy soup: posse stew

1 can hominy
1 can corn
1 can diced green chilies
1 can tomatoes (whatever flavor you have)
1 can ranch style beans

throw it all in the pot (do not drain anything) and heat. it's perfect for cold days.

Sue said...

Alright, all good ideas but you already have your menu planned. This is what I do when I'm using the crock pot. RIGHT NOW go put the crock pot on the counter. Get your recipe out. Get the meat and cut it up (or hopefully you'll have already done that and it's frozen). Cut up the onion and what ever other veggies you're using and put them in the fridge with the cut up meat. Get all the canned goods out and put them on the counter with the can opener. Get all the spices out and the measuring spoons and either put them on the counter OR measure them out into the crock pot, one less step in the morning. Now in the morning you won't forget, everything will be right there and it will only take a minute or two to open the cans and toss everything in the pot. I do this all the time because I leave for work by 6:40 a.m.
Okay. I used to do this but now my daughter cooks for us. Yes I am bragging. But I still know how to cook and I make Sunday dinners.
Anyway, stop reading and get everything ready - you won't have to use the emergency lasagne!

Amy Peterson said...

I heart my crock pot! The best crock pot days I have had, I chuck everything the night before and throw it into the fridge, pull it out the next morning set in on, LEAVE, and go PARTY!

Maraiya said...

Several of my favorite crockpot meals work really well when I bake them at 350 in the oven for 1/2 to 1 hour depending. Love that.

My cop out meals? Enchilada casserole (which was orginaly a crockpot meal but I prefer it from the oven, spaghetti, stir fry, breakfast, and the really desperate move: PB&J.

Funny, but we do eat a lot of the above meals.

JustRandi said...

Love, Love Love these. It' looks like all I need to do is stock my pantry with a few more key ingredients and maybe post an idea list on the inside of a cupboard door.
Oh, and also, I could do what Sue says and actually, you know, make what I planned.

You guys are great! And keep 'em coming if you've got more!

Loralee and the gang... said...

WE Love Crock pot meals and grilled cheese and tomato soup... our favs and !not! cop-outs. But then, you'd Never call me a gourmet!

mindyluwho said...

I can add nothing but am sure loving all the great ideas!

Carrie said...

Randi, we're having a class on cooking ahead on January 10th so I expect to see you there! I'm all about freezer meals - during finals or paper time this is a life saver for me.

In the mean time, probably my worst cop-out is You Pick It, You Fix It night which is a fancy name for leftovers or whatever you can come up with on your own. This doesn't work with little kids but yours are big enough to participate. :) I think this is Dad's favorite night! ha!

Carrie said...

One more thought, you can go to allrecipes.com and sign up for their daily email which will send you a new recipe to try every day and sometimes they're really quite simple so you can throw them together pretty quickly.

Vern said...

I met your request regarding "Glitter Boobs" - I hope you're not disappointed :)

alotalot said...

Spaghetti for sure! Tacos, though you have to do some planning if you want beef tacos. My number 1 cop out meal is chicken wings. My husband loves them, so he doesn't mind. I serve them with basically nothing! But sometimes fries. If I want to get fancy.

Jennifer said...

Stove top stuffing boxes have recipes for the skillet that take 20-30 minutes. Mostly a variation of stuffing, chicken and something else. Usually a soup--or canned tomatoes. They are good....and with a bagged salad and dressing, they are a full fledged dinner at my house!

Tori :) said...

I'm with Dave- we do pancakes whenever I need a cop-out meal. Or grilled cheese sandwiches.

Nancy Face said...

Sorry, I'm no help at all! You're WAY ahead of me in the meal preparation department! :)

Nancy Face said...

What's a menu?

TheOnesInColorado said...

Oh my! First thanks for this post! I did Stephanie's stroganoff (spell check doesn't like that word?) with less sour cream, SOS mix instead of soup and garlic salt. MMMmmm. That was a winner. And then tonight I tried the BLT and fries. This was almost blogworthy! Never again will I attempt bacon in the oven. I have raw bacon and incognito bacon that is so black as to have incorporated itself into the bottom of my cookie sheet (already black from decades of use). Yeah - plus my smoke alarm went off and now my house stinks and it's less than freezing outside and yet all my windows are open. But the fries look good!

Marie @ Make and Takes said...

Ha! My two cop outs are pasta or cheese sandwiches with tomato soup too! Love it. Or we eat a lot of scrambled eggs and each time it gets topped with a new kind of cheese, you know, just to spice things up.

What do you crock pot? I need some new easy recipes. My crock pot is gathering dust.

East of Eden said...


2 cans great northern beans
2 cans veg broth
2 cans diced tomatoes of any variety.
1 pkg baby spinach
1 med onion, diced up and sauteed for 5 mins
Optional: one pkg ground turkey meat, browned and seasoned.

Combine all in a big soup pot and heat thru (about 15 mins) serve with bread of your choice and cheese, if you like cheese.

Very low fat, and high nutrition.

cami said...

1 lb ground beef browned...
Mix meat with 1.5 cups of Salsa.

Wrapi up tight with cheese in a flour tortilla and baste with olive oil. Bake 400 16 min. they will be golden brown and crispy. Serve with refried beans and or rice.

This recipe is ALWAYS a hit! The fam loves it

cami said...

Oh yeah, top with sour cream and salsa