Chicagolandia
Dinner Dilemmas: When something in the fridge is not what is appears to be! A cautionary tale....

I hope I'm not the only one out there that has dinner dilemmas. Even though I'm pretty good about meal-planning, sometimes the components you plan to work with are simply not there. Last night is a perfect example.

When I asked DH what ideas he had for the meal-plan, he said there was some leftover ground turkey that was browned up - why not make Hamburger Helper or tacos. For a change of pace, I figured helper would make my cooking and prep time a little shorter, so I planned tomato basil penne (or something that sounded like that). That is, until I go to the fridge to pull out the ground turkey - and it's fried rice from the week before. Oops... and I didn't have any other meat thawed except some chicken and mozzarella sausage and deli meat - and we each had sammies for lunch. And we both are not the biggest fan of eating the same thing for lunch as well as dinner.

What I did have is 2-3 lbs. fresh mushrooms and more jarred pasta sauce than I can shake a stick at (though why I would be shaking a stick when I was trying to get dinner ready is completely beyond me. Maybe I'm just quirky like that.). And I did plan to use mushrooms in nearly every meal this week.

I started by chopping the mushrooms and wondering what the heck I was going to do with them. But thinking as fast as my tired brain could manage, the basic idea is finally hatched: I'm still making helper, it's just not coming out of a box anymore, it's coming out of the pantry. Though hubby is not the biggest fan of a meatless meal or alfredo sauce for that matter, I grabbed a jar of Alfredo and a bag of medium shells.

The more I got to thinking, the less the idea of meatless appealed to me, either. So I started by looking in the freezer for leftover cooked chicken - and promptly struck out, unless I wanted to add some chicken nuggets to our meal, and I wasn't willing to go that far out on a limb. A better the idea, in the form of chicken sausage in the pasta sounded do-able, so I tossed sauteed mushrooms, browned some chicken sausage medallions, and medium shells with a jar of Ragu's Alfredo and a 30-minute meal was born. Why - because sometimes, every once in a great while, things do not go as planned. The up side: the fried rice will be making an appearance tonight with the Thai ginger pork stirfry.

Tell me - have Dinner Dilemmas ever happened to you? What was your saving grace?
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12 Responses
  1. I have totally had dinner delimas. and pasta with jarred spaghetti sause is usually the winner.


  2. slugmama Says:

    Just last night in fact! I forgot to thaw the protein 'du jour' so I made some pizza dough since I had a couple hours left for it to rise and we had homemade pizza. Ok, I did have some turkey pepperoni thawed and a leftover breakfast sausage pattie to crumble and throw on the pizza so it wasn't totally meatless.

    Since I stopped keeping a supply of frozen tv dinners in the house, pasta or rice & beans seem to be my 'go to' plan if I am stuck for a quick/easy meal.


  3. Amiyrah Says:

    of course! now that i discovered that browning my ground meat as soon as I get it from the store is a great idea, we have been saved more than once. I can take a bag right out of the freezer, and turn it into whatever we fancy that night. Tossed with mexican spices while it re-heats in the pan and top a bowl of white or brown rice with it and thats dinner. A chopped up carrot or onion(which we seem to always have) also help. Or I just use my recipe for hamburger helper. That was a "oh crap, we have nothing in the house, not even boxed HH" recipe lol.


  4. Frances Says:

    I think your dinner delimma ended up quite successfully!


  5. Carol Says:

    That dinner sounds really good and I have all of those ingredients so thanks for the inspiration!
    Tonight I was able to whip up dinner without any prior thought to it - took out some burgers (almost free Pub burgers from Jewel!) & buns from the freezer, threw the burgers in water to thaw. Grabbed the last 4 potatoes from the bag, peeled and sliced them. Threw them on a cookie sheet, sprayed them with butter flavored Pam (trying to cut calories!), sprinkled garlic powder and Parmesan cheese on them and threw them in a 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes. The burgers were pretty much thawed by the time I had the potatoes in the oven for 20 minutes, so I prepped those and threw them on the grill. Took out some almost free Corn on the Cob from a Jewel deal a few weeks ago and we had a great, quick and very inexpensive meal that we all enjoyed. Having all this stuff on hand sure beats ordering a pizza any day!


  6. Yankee - spaghetti and pasta sauce is a go-to for me, I was glad I could step a little outside of my usual "box".


  7. Slugmama - rice and beans is a huge favorite for me - pair this with some tortillas and I'm happy as a clam!


  8. Amiyrah - I'm waiting for a sale on ground turkey, I think I only have 1-2 rolls left (we go through this like water!). I'm just glad I didn't listen to DH when he said "Tater tots and chicken nuggets?" in a hopeful sort of voice. I can only eat that for so long...


  9. Frances - I really liked how dinner turned out, it was one of those pleasant surprises - and I was really felling like Hamburger Helper either, so it was a double bonus.


  10. Carol - That meal sounds amazing! I might have to borrow your idea for potatoes. It's making my mouth water just thinking about it.


  11. Precious Says:

    Oh I have done this more than once. Sometimes plans did not go as expected, especially when the boys were in high school and I would come home to find they had eaten what I had thawed for dinner. Nice dish that you made quickly!



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