Parents Need to Eat Too

Sanity-Saving, Last-Minute Dinner Trick

Sanity-Saving, Last-Minute Dinner Trick

saute express from land o'lakesI love hate love Thanksgiving—all the planning and cleaning and cooking and strategizing and cooking and cooking and cooking… Know what I hate? Thanksgiving week dinners. After spending hours thinking about and working on Thursday’s feast, the last thing I want to do is devote more time to cooking dinner Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. Seriously, the other day I announced on Facebook that I was serving fish sticks for the rest of the week.

Thank god I have a secret weapon in my fridge. I’d nearly forgotten about it—a month or two ago the kind folks at Land O’Lakes invited me to an intimate little luncheon, at which they introduced a product called Sauté Express. They sent me home with free samples to play with.

Now, you know I don’t use many processed foods in my kitchen. But most of us who work and take care of kids and pets and homes and cars and schedules have learned that if we use our noggins, we’ll find processed items that are not only helpful, they’re also made with ingredients you’d use yourself. Like butter. And olive oil. Herbs, spices, salt, pepper.

Like Sauté Express. Here’s the label of their Lemon Pepper variety:

saute express lemon pepper nutrition facts

All words you can pronounce. All items you’d use—except maybe soy lecithin, which is often used to bind ingredients together, so if you’re soy-sensitive you should stop reading now.

As far as processed products go, this one passes my own, highly subjective test. It even has a reasonable sodium count (you won’t need to add more salt, either). Now, how does it, y’know, work? BEAUTIFULLY. If you’re stressed and it’s five-thirty and you have absolutely no idea what you’re going to feed your family, reach for one of these little building blocks. Toss one or two in a skillet, and when it melts and bubbles add skinless, boneless chicken, fish, or pork. Cook for a few minutes on each side, and you’re done. Once the protein’s out of the pan, I like to toss in some chopped vegetables along with a few tablespoons of water—why dirty another pot? Reheat a bag of cooked rice from the freezer, and dinner’s ready. By my estimation, that took about fifteen minutes.

There are four varieties: Lemon Pepper (which is great for fish), Savory Butter & Olive Oil, Italian Herb, and Garlic & Herb. My favorite is the Italian Herb, but my adorable son, who visibly cringes at the site of… stuff mixed in with his plain white chicken, prefers the Savory Butter & Olive Oil. That one cooks up golden brown, with no bits for picky eaters to sort through.

Keep a stash of these in your fridge or freezer, and on those nights when you absolutely, positively can’t think about what to cook, relax. You’re covered.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. These look awesome. Are they in grocery stores now? Where would you find them in the grocery store? I’m desperately in need of some quick dinner ideas for anytime, not just Thanksgiving week.

    I also love your idea of tossing veggies in the pan once the chicken is done cooking. I hate dirtying more dishes than what is necessary.

    1. Hi Julie. They are indeed available now–look for them near the butter, in the refrigerated case. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. I don’t really see the point of these. Why not just use butter and dried lemon pepper seasoning or bottled lemon juice and pepper which gives a different flavor. Making chicken like this was dinner once a week when my daughter was newborn, but I just used olive oil and dried lemon pepper. Easy, tasty, and done in 10 min. I usually served it with baked potatoes and steamed veg.

    1. Jen, I think the point is that for many people, even taking the time to think about what flavors to use is more than they think they can spare. When you’re completely frazzled, having a zero-thinking option that *isn’t* takeout or high-sodium frozen dinners is a good thing.

  3. Hi

    I’m all for the zero thinking options since having my little one especially now we’re in cold season aka no sleep til Spring! My sleep deprived stupid question is how do you reheat frozen rice. Have never frozen rice before but sounds like a genius time saver.

    Thanks

    1. Ah, Sarah, I’m glad this is helpful for you! You can reheat frozen rice in the microwave REALLY easily, or if you don’t have one you can break it up with your hands (it’ll crumble) & put in a baking dish, sprinkle with water, cover tightly, and bake at 350 for a while, maybe 20-30 minutes.

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