Nonchalant Dad: Fast Food For The Conscientious

I was thinking the other day about a couple of things. What started me thinking was Halloween night in particular. Everyone seems in a bit of a hurry to get the kids fed and out the door in time for trick or treating. So, naturally, it's usually a quick meal. That's what got me thinking. Unless you're lucky enough to be a full time stay at home parent (and even that isn't enough of a guarantee these days that you'll still not be overly busy) or you've got a full staff of people to assist you - you're probably stressed out enough at meal times. And, chances are, if you're the typical DAD then you're probably even more hampered when it comes to meal time - considering your skills are limited!!

I remember the few times as a child when my own father was entrusted to prepare a meal for us in the home. He would inevitably fall back on his standard: scrambled eggs made with olive oil and sage. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad as far as quick meals go (and it tasted pretty good since he didn't use milk like my mother did - the small difference between an Arabic version and English version). What it wasn't was complicated or particularly inventive - which translated into being just plain boring, and not necessarily nutritious. 

What's worse these days is that fast food is much more prevalent. Whether it's in your own home or out and about, the food is pretty simple. It's not hard to see the average household these days resort to
a simple pizza, chicken fingers, or macaroni and cheese when it comes down to crunch time for an evening meal. I'm not blaming anyone - I know the feeling well. You're not really prepared, times running out because you've got to be somewhere or just come from somewhere, and you reach for the easiest item you have in the pantry or fridge. It's already a small victory if you're not tempted to just grab a 'bite' while you are out.

I'm not going to pretend that I'm the type of person who is very adept at putting together one of those fabulous meals from scratch in under 5 minutes - especially with the kids coming at you from all angles. But, I'm also not wanting to be one of those parents who just grabs something easy for the meal..... at least not a majority of the time. So, I found something of a compromise. At first it was tinned soup. I'd take a store bought soup, open the tin and Voila! But, most soups (even organic) are a bit skimpy on the substance, so I'd quickly add some fresh chopped veggies or fish (meat) that I could find in the kitchen. Suddenly, the meal was heartier and still quick. Problem solved...... or so I thought. After a while, things got a bit boring again.

Then it dawned on me while shopping in the co-op recently, looking as I was for something a bit different: a nice chili in a tin. This wasn't that type of tinned chili we might have been used to in the good ol' 70's or 80's - big meaty stuff. This was a new generation of product: simple, nutritious, organic and with ingredients that you'd have a hard time finding in mainstream products. My recent discovery was a line of tinned chili on the shelf - incorporating ingredients like Quinoa, Kamut, and Barley. To prepare a chili from scratch using these ingredients would take a while - but now here was something that would only take minutes and was inventive and nutritious. Plus, the kids liked it! And, if you're really clever, you can set it all up so that if neighbours or friends stop over you can make it look like you spent all day on the endeavour - something that will really confuse them!

So, tonight - finding myself in a pinch, I reached up in the cupboard and pulled down a couple of tins of Eden Brand Organic Great Northern Bean and Barley Chili (you might just as easily find another brand in your local shop). I added some onion, chicken, and brown rice & millet that I had handy in the fridge (I believe Carina cooked it last night... lucky me!) and next thing you know, 15 minutes later I had a full meal.

I guess my point is this: next time you find yourself in a hurry and you don't want to fall back on the easy standards, why not broaden the perspective a little bit by searching out some other quick tinned solutions. And, as a Dad, why find yourself restricted when you can come up with something delicious
and inventive.... and like I said, if you want to confound the wife or friends, just hide the tins before anyone notices. Just don't tell anyone I told you.