Ok, so in an ideal world I would have plenty of time every day to make all-natural, organic meals from scratch.  I love to cook, and I love to cook good, healthy, sometimes to the chagrin of the family, experimental meals.  However, as we all know because it has now become a household phrase, we are the 99%.  This means I’m regularly working 60 hour weeks, leaving very little time for “scratch”.  Many of you out there are, surprise with logic on top, also part of the 99%, so I thought I’d share some of my cheats.

1.  Crockpots are a girl’s best friend.  This one’s pretty much a no-brainer.  After years of stuffing my two-person Crockpot to the brim, we were blessed on wedding day with a shiny new family sized pot, complete with digital panel and time and temperature setting options.  I also was gifted the mother of all Crockpot cook books.  Expect reviews once I’ve had a chance to test it out.  The Crockpot allows for all-natural ingredients and as much creativity as you can cram into it.

2.  Augment the ordinary.   Sometimes I forget things.  Ok, so a lot of the time I forget things, but sometimes I forget things like taking meat out of the freezer or buying more veggies.  Sometimes I just plain don’t have the time, or we don’t have the money, for the good stuff.  This is when real creativity comes in.  Tonight, for example, I thought we were going to be out of town, so I was completely unprepared to make dinner.  My arsenal included a few boxes of Annie’s mac and cheese, a few cans of Campbell’s, and sandwich supplies. Feeling like the drizzly day called for it perfectly, I decided on grilled cheese and soup.   For Hubby,  I whipped up some Tomato Soup, made with milk instead of water, added some basil, and melted a layer of mozzarella cheese over the top.  With his sandwich I added some fresh basil, dried oregano, and some sliced tomato.    My soup was Cream of Potato.  I added a slice of pepper jack cheese, some Italian sausage, and some kale.  I added a few bits of pepper jack to my sandwich as well.  Yum.  I learned this trick in college, where most of my cooking was limited to the microwave and a tiny fridge, and I had extremely limited income.  I quickly learned to add broccoli and chicken to my instant rice and veggies and spices to my Top Ramen.  It may not be as healthy as I’d like, but it’s palatable and slightly healthier with real veggies, meat, and spices than with a flavor packet.

3. Cook for an army.   Hubby used to have what I saw as an impairment; he’s unable to cook for any less than a small village.  There are times when our family eats like a small village, but many times we have more leftovers than space in the fridge.  Recently I’ve learned the value of freezing small portions of these feasts and taking them to work with me.  It keeps itself preserved on the commute and microwaves nicely, with the added benefit that I don’t have to buy expensive food for lunch or live solely on fast food.  At home this means I can grab a dinner-pop from the freezer, pop it in the oven, and Huzzah! Quick, homemade dinner.  Just because it wasn’t homemade that day is besides the point.  

What I’m saying is that we can’t always be June Cleaver.  Sometimes I forget my pearls on the sink, and sometimes I don’t have time to be super-wife, so I’ve learned to cheat.  Yes, ladies, cheat.  It’s ok.  You may even have time after all that to read a book.  Do it!  You deserve it.  I won’t tell.

Go now….do it quickly.