It took almost three weeks, but we did it: we are now moved from a hoity toity apartment complex to a little bungalow in the Heights area of Houston. Road construction or birds, trees, and a yard? I’ll take the latter. However, making it happen wasn’t so easy.
First we had to paint, then we had to move the furniture, then we had to pack and move all the other stuff. Apparently we have a lot of other stuff! When all is said and done, we spent 14 work days and 5 weekend days without down time, going straight from work -> apartment to grab dog and/or things to move -> house to paint, move, organize, clean, etc. -> apartment to pass out (or just pass out from sheer exhaustion in the house once we had enough stuff there). This doesn’t make eating easy, especially when all we had at the apartment was a microwave to cook for a long time. Gas doesn’t turn itself on, folks, and you have to physically be there for them to turn it on, apparently. Go figure.
If you know me, you know my main concern was figuring out how to make sure we ate good dinners. The requirements were as follows:
- Must be able to be prepared with a microwave only
- Must follow the Plate Method
- Must be at least a little bit delicious
Sounds like a tall order, but here are some tips to prepare you for eating during your in-town move:
1. Use up what’s in that freezer – I’ll never stop talking about how helpful it is to cook things in a big batch and stick them in the freezer for times when you don’t want to or can’t cook. Soups, stews, and things cooked with moist heat methods are your best friend. We had both pulled pork and salsa chicken in the freezer, and they worked wonderfully as additions to sandwiches and salads for lunches, as well as to add to dinners.
2. Now is the time for convenience products – I will rarely ever suggest packaged convenience foods because cooking the real thing yourself often doesn’t take too long and saves fat, calories, sugar, salt, and preservatives. However, without a working stove microwave options became my best friend. There are a lot of fully cooked microwave grain pouches on the market nowadays, like these ones from Uncle Ben’s or these ones from Seeds of Change. While we didn’t use them, there is such thing as fully cooked frozen sliced chicken breast that could be an option, though very high in sodium. Generally with convenience products I have to make some sacrifice as far as nutrition ideals go, but that’s simply the way it is.
3. Frozen vegetables are THE BEST – We have been conditioned to believe that fresh and healthy are synonyms, when in reality frozen vegetables are nutritionally equivalent. Though some people don’t like the texture of frozen vegetables, I find that green beans and some stir fry medleys are really tasty and not the watery mush you may have come to associate with frozen veg.
4. Eggs + microwave = delicious – People are surprised when I suggest cooking eggs in the microwave as a fast and healthy breakfast. In fact, it works really well for both scrambles and poached eggs. Although we didn’t eat eggs during our move, we definitely could have as it’s an excellent source of protein.
5. Go with fully cooked meats – You don’t want to cook raw meat in the microwave, it’s just not pleasing texturally. Fully cooked chicken sausage is one of my absolute favorite time-savers and you can bet we ate some during the move. Again, those pre-prepared meals that I had in the freezer came into play here as well.
6. Know what produce does well in the microwave – Some things are great in the microwave. Some things are not. Broccoli smells terrible in there, as one of my former roommates can attest to. Apparently in undergrad she microwaved broccoli during the first week of school and was forever known as “smelly broccoli girl” or something along those lines. We cooked spinach and spaghetti squash in the microwave, and both were perfect.
Now that you have my tips, here is what we actually ate:
Spaghetti squash bolognese – I actually prefer to cook my spaghetti squash in the microwave. Just cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and microwave cut side down for 7 minutes for a smaller guy, and add time if it needs it. Boiling spaghetti squash can be dangerous (splashes!) and I always over-roast, leaving me without much texture. After microwaving, I stirred in some jarred pesto and heated up a container of frozen homemade bolognese (mirepoix, beef, wine, canned whole tomatoes, seasoning) and had a lovely dinner. One of my favorites!
Chicken sausage with brown rice and spinach – The aforementioned grain pouches (Safeway brand, whatevs) were microwaved with several generous handfuls of baby spinach and a bit of water. Sliced chicken sausage was added part way through and the whole thing mixed together as sort of a hot grain salad. Spinach cooks, rice warms up, sausage is nice and toasty. Stella ended up eating a bunch of this when we weren’t looking (BAD DOG!!) I guess it was tasty 🙂
Rotisserie chicken with crusty bread and salad – I posted this one on instagram. Rotisserie chicken is a much better option than just about any of the other fast food items you can get for dinner. We picked ours up at the grocery store (right next to the fried chicken – not a healthy option) and paired it with an undressed green salad we had leftover from the weekend. *TIP* Use hardy romaine and keep your salad undressed to prevent it from getting soggy!
Salsa chicken, provolone, and sprouts grilled cheese – Admittedly, this one was cooked quickly before leaving the apartment (so I was able to use the stove). Thawed salsa chicken (chicken breast simmered in a pan with salsa, canned tomato sauce, taco/mexican seasonings and pulled) between two slices of bread with provolone and sprouts, pressed and grilled to melty delicious perfection. Could not have handled the heavy lifting without this baby in my stomach.
Of course there were leftovers nights, and on the weekends we were able to spend a little more time at the apartment to cook, but these suggestions should get you started!