My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!

It’s 5:14 pm, and I Haven’t Even Started Dinner!

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What would you do?  Grab something from Mickie-D’s?  Eat sandwiches?  Heat up chicken nuggets?  Skip dinner, and go right to dessert?

 

I’ve done that before, but dinner is family time in our home.  We like to eat a good meal and enjoy some good conversation.  Earlier in the day, I had planned to make stew (to take advantage of the stew meat on sale at my local Wal-mart), but, like it often does, life takes over and, before I knew it, it was after 5 pm with no dinner in sight!

 

With some dishes, it’s not a big deal.  But stew needs to “stew” for at least 2 1/2 -3 hours, so the meat is nice and tender.  My youngest goes to bed at 7:30, which meant there wasn’t time for our stew to “stew.”  Not if I wanted him to eat and be in bed on time.  (Which I do, because he is a GROUCH if he does not get enough sleep!)  No biggie.  I whipped out my pressure cooker and used it to speed up the cooking process.  Come along!  You can cook right along with me.

 

 

I assembled my ingredients and got started.

I assembled my ingredients and got started.

 

I put a couple tablespoons of flour in a gallon size ziplock bag and put in the stew meat.

I put a couple tablespoons of flour in a gallon size ziplock bag and put in the stew meat.

 

I zipped it up, shook it, and ended up with this.

I zipped it up, shook it, and ended up with this.

 

I preheated the oil in my pressure cooker.

I preheated the oil in my pressure cooker.

 

Opened up my ziplock bag of stew meat coated in flour...

Opened up my ziplock bag of stew meat coated in flour…

 

And put some in the pan.

And put some in the pan.

 

I cooked the meat in two batches.   Here's the first one.

I cooked the meat in two batches. Here’s the first one.

 

Turned it over to brown all sides.

I made sure to turn the meat to brown all sides.

 

I pulled it out and set it aside...

When it was nice and brown, I pulled the first batch out and set it aside…

 

And I cooked the remaining meat.  See how the oil is started to turn a lovely brown shade and get a bit thick?  It's like I'm creating a roux (a combination of fat and flour) while I'm browning my meat.

Then I cooked the remaining meat. See how the oil is started to turn a lovely brown shade and is getting thick? It’s like I’m creating a roux (a combination of fat and flour) while I’m browning my meat.

 

I was out of stew mix, and I didn't feel like pulling out my stew recipe, so I used Pioneer gravy as my base.  I mixed it with 4 cups of water.

I was out of stew mix, and I didn’t feel like pulling out my stew recipe, so I used Pioneer gravy as my base. I mixed the packet with 4 cups of water.

 

And whisked it really well.

And whisked it really well.

 

Then I added the first batch of meat back to the pan.

Then I added the first batch of meat back to the pan, combining it with the second batch.

 

I added the gravy packet and water mixture along with a bay leaf.

I added the gravy packet and water mixture along with a bay leaf.  I also snuck in an onion, roughly chopped.

 

Next, I put the lid on the pressure cooker, turned the heat on high, and brought it to pressure.  See the red button has popped up on the left hand side?  Once it was pressurized, I set the timer for 10 minutes.

Next, I put the lid on the pressure cooker, turned the heat on high, and brought it to pressure. See the red button has popped up on the left hand side? Once it was pressurized, I set the timer for 10 minutes and let it work its magic.  A few minutes in, I turned the heat down as it only needed to be on medium heat to maintain pressure.

 

I chopped up the celery and carrots.

While the cooker was bubbling away, I chopped up the celery and carrots.

 

 

Once the timer went off, I used the pressure release valve to release the pressure within the cooker.  This allowed me to safely open it and add the veggies.

Once the timer went off, I used the pressure release valve to release the pressure within the cooker. This allowed me to safely open it and add the veggies.

 

 

Which I did here.  Then I brought it back up to pressure and cooked the stew for 5 more minutes.

Which I did here. Then, I brought it back up to pressure and cooked the stew for 5 more minutes.

 

I released the pressure as before and added the potatoes and 2 1/2 more cups of water mixed with another gravy packet.

I released the pressure as before, then I added the potatoes and 2 1/2 cups of water mixed with another gravy packet.  I also added a little black pepper.  As before, I brought the cooker back up to pressure and cooked the stew for 5 more minutes.

 

 

And Voila!  It's done!

And Voila! It’s done!

 

 

Not too shabby for 20 minutes of actual "stewing" time, huh?  The meat was fall apart tender and the stew was a hit!  Much better than chicken nuggets or Mickie D's!

Not too shabby for 20 minutes of actual “stewing” time, and an hour from start to finish, huh? The meat was fall apart tender, and the stew was a hit with my husband and teenager eating two big bowls full! Much better than chicken nuggets or Mickie D’s!

 

 

Kind of makes you want a pressure cooker*, doesn’t it?  I made dinner for under $10.  It fed four people (2 adults, 1 teenager, and 1 12-yr old) with leftovers for my oldest son when he gets home from work and leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  McDonald’s would have cost us at least $13, and that would be with the super cheap mini meals, which are no where near as satisfying, and don’t even think about leftovers!

 

$10 = at least 2 meals for a 5 people  VS  $13 = 1 small meal for 4 people

 

Pressure cooking wins, hands down!

 

What’s your favorite “get dinner ready quick” tip? 

 

* This post contains an affiliate link.  To learn more about them, please visit my “about” page. *
* Please note that while I am familiar with my pressure cooker, your pressure cooker work differently than mine.  Please read and follow all the safety instructions that came with your pressure cooker. *
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Author: Laurie Nguyen

I am a happily married, stay at home mom with four sons, ages 24, 22, 18, and 14. I'm not a professional blogger, and I'm certainly not a foodie or a chef. But I like food, so I think I'm qualified to write about my own life experience with food. Want to be a little more prepared for the unexpected? Check out my Food Storage Blog, http://forayintofoodstorage.com. Have a question about Food Storage? Email me: forayintofoodstorage@gmail.com.

37 thoughts on “It’s 5:14 pm, and I Haven’t Even Started Dinner!

  1. My favourite quick meal is steak, chips and salad. Very easy and quick.

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  2. that looks soo good!!! Now, I’m hungry (it’s 2:36am haha). It’s great you take the time to cook and spend dinner with your family! A quick dinner for me consists of tuna, mayo, celery and wraps :p

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  3. I remember when I was a kid and my mom was cooking something in the pressure cooker. I dont know what happened but it blew up and our dinner was nicely splattered on the ceiling and walls. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We keep sauces on hand to do Indian meals when we need a fast meal. Pasta is also a standby.

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  5. My tips?

    1 Menu plan
    2 Always have a back up meal in reserve – it can be a precooked casserole-style dish in the freezer or a quick and easy to prepare meal.

    Last night was the perfect example – I forgot to cook the brown rice that I needed the night before so we had scrambled eggs, bacon, fried mushroom and tomato plus avocado slices.

    I am an expert at getting dinner on the table in under 20 minutes from beginning the preparation as we do not arrive home from work until after 7pm each night.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never used a pressure cooker; always found them a bit scary. But your walk-through takes some of the mystery out of it. Maybe I’ll give it a try!

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    • It’s really quite simple. Modern pressure cookers have all sorts of safety features. If you buy one from a reputable manufacturer and follow the instructions, you will be just fine. I highly recommend having one in the kitchen.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice work! I have a few fast meals, one being a quick fried rice using either leftover brown rice or a packet of precooked family size brown rice with whatever veggies I have in the fridge. Add soy sauce, a quick egg omelette or leftover chicken and you are sorted. 🙂

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  8. aaaah….just the way I make my stew too but instead of using stew mix, I brown the meat with flour and then add chopped onions. Great for a cold day! I think I’ll make it this weekend…if it’s not too warm here 😊😋

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  9. That was great. I made a similar stew in the pressure cooker last week. I’ve never coated the beef before browning. Will try it next time. Love your recipe. Thanks for sharing. Homemade beats takeout every time.

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  10. I have got to get a pressure cooker! That looked so yummy.

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    • They really are handy to have around. I don’t use mine every time I make something. Often I put it in the crock-pot or let it simmer on the stove, but I probably should use it more often, because it makes cooking so much faster and easier!

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  11. I loved my pressure cooker but haven’t replaced it since it died years ago. Sheesh. I’ve forgotten about the joys of that handy thing.
    I had company drop in from out of town once and I threw in a whole frozen chicken. I had no idea if I could do that but went ahead anyway. The bottom line: we had supper on time. In those days, it never occurred to me to go out for supper. 🙂

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  12. My favorite is spaghetti with red clam sauce, it is also a pantry meal so it is ready to make at a moments notice.

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  13. This is a good idea. I live alone, so I don’t really have family time for dinner, but I try to avoid buying fast food whenever possible. If I want to make dinner especially quick, I usually make sandwiches, but your option sounds a lot tastier.

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  14. For me it would have to be pasta and a cheese sauce with sweetcorn and other salad veg. Quick and easy

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  15. I’ve only used a pressure cooker for canning – you’ve piqued my curiosity! Thanks for the blog, and thanks for stopping by mine!

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  16. I keep a few frozen tuna steaks in the freezer for last minute meals. They defrost quickly (while I make a salad) and then we give them a quick sear.

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  17. 20 minutes? That’s amazing! Now I feel the need to buy a pressure cooker…uh oh… 😉

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  18. Good tips here… When I was a kid, a quick dinner was Vegemite sandwiches or Weet-bix. Although chips, fried eggs and baked beans were always a favourite too 🙂

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  19. Thanks for your post! Now I really DO want a pressure cooker! I have always kinda wondered about them but never have checked into them… I have a crock pot I like to use but how does a pressure cooker compare to a crock pot? Are there any advantages?

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    • The biggest advantage is that a pressure cooker is FAST! You can’t just leave it like you can a crockpot (if it is a stovetop model), but it’s so fast, I’ve never felt a need. I do like that I can brown meat in my pressure cooker before using it as a pressure cooker. I brown my meat before it goes in the crockpot too, but I have to dirty another pan. My dislike of doing dishes makes this quite appealing!

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      • Oh that is a great point about being able to brown it in the same pot and then not have to transfer it to the other! I love that! I try to keep my dirty dishes to a minimum while cooking also! I’m also really bad about waiting till the last minute to start cooking dinner so I’m thinking a pressure cooker might be JUST what I need! 🙂 Thanks for your tips! I look forward to your next post!

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  20. Quick option #1 is breakfast tortillas. Cook up scrambled eggs with diced veggies and fresh herbs and wrap them all up in a tortilla.
    Quick option #2 is sausage with premade spaghetti sauce. I always add more veggies and red wine to whichever tomato sauce I am using, so that does take a few more minutes of prep time. (garlic, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, broccoli etc.) Also, I never buy a tomato sauce that has any added sweetener, so it tastes like homemade!

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