Friday, June 10, 2011

Deployment Tips: Food

I thought I would document a bit of how I eat and prepare my food for quick lunches and dinners while Mr. Man is deployed. It seems that this question gets asked a lot whenever others' husbands are about to deploy. The want to know meal ideas and how to prepare in advance. Whenever I get asked this question and Mr. Man is here, I completely draw a blank. But whenever he is gone, I have my own rhythm that works out great. And now that I have a baby to take care of as well, I have found more and more ideas to help me out. Not only do these tips help me out during the day when I'm so busy, but they also are inexpensive routes to home-cooked meals.

One tip I run to often:

Marinating chicken in advance. 

Most people have the common sense to buy in bulk. I also divide the larger portions into smaller portions for family meals, but when I am here alone, I prepare them in even smaller portions. 

I buy lots of chicken tenders when Mr. Man is away. I can buy them in bulk. They are inexpensive, and they cook fast. One of my favorite things to do with this is to also marinate them in advance and stick them in the refrigerator (if I will be eating them within the next couple of days) or freeze them and take them out the morning I plan to eat them.

I am big on eating just chicken tenders, but these ideas allow you to put them in other dishes. Like tacos, salads, macaroni and cheese, and anything else you can think of. Just be creative.

I combined a list of my top 5 favorite marinades to help me make different meals. Don't laugh at the names of them because I am making up names as I go :) 

1. Yummy Chicken Marinade:
1/4 cup of cider vinegar
3tbsp of whole grain mustard
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 juice of a lime
1/2 juice of a lemon
1/2 cup of brown sugar

  • 6tbsp of olive oil

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Tips: This will take care of about 6 chicken breasts. 

  • 2. Amazing Chicken Marinade: (very creative, I know)

  • 1 cup of oil

  • 1/2 cup of vinegar

  • 2tbsp of mayo

  • 3tbsp of Worcestershire sauce

  • 2tbsp lemon juice

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 2tbsp of thyme

  • 1tbsp of garlic powder

  • Tip: This makes about 2 cups of marinade, so just cut it in half for a portion for one person. I normally can easily get 6 or so chicken tenders with 1 cup. 

  • 3. Terriyaki Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup of oil

  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup of tomato juice

  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • pepper to taste

  • Tip: This could easily cover about a pound of chicken. Plan accordingly. 

  • 4. Italian Marinade:

  • 1 (16ounce) bottle of Italian salad dressing

  • 1/3 cup of lemon juice

  • 1/3 cup of honey

  • 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce

  • 2tsp of Paprika

  • 5. Lemon Marinade:

  • 2tbsp of olive oil

  • 2tbsp of lemon juice

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/2tsp of thyme

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • These are the recipes I use when Mr. Man is here. However, I take it and make simple changes for a fast marinade for me when he is away. I use bottled lemon and lime juice. I cut the ingredients to half if I am doing it for one person. I also will occasionally just use garlic powder instead of actual minced garlic. There is a variety of ways to play with this.

  • Another great idea is to cut up vegetables to freeze with the chicken or place in the fridge. For example, you could slice some mushrooms, bell peppers, etc.. and place them in the marinade in the bag with the chicken. When you are ready to cook, just toss it all in the pan and cook away. 

  • These are amazingly simple, so I thought I would share. I know many people shy away from having to cook for one person because it seems unnecessary. But this way allows you to have a nice healthy diet without spending too much time in the kitchen and not always having to use the Crockpot. (I hate to clean the Crockpot afterward.)

  • I hope you find these helpful! 

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