Homemade TV Dinners: It’s Cheaper, Healthier and Tastes So Much Better!


There are not very many TV dinner choices in Ireland.  Stores like Iceland have a decent selection, but Iceland stores are not everywhere and they are not where I am currently living.  Even the cheapest TV dinners are not very inexpensive (in my opinion) compared to what you can pay in the U.S., but we have a lot of need for something quick and easy to throw in the oven or microwave, so I decided to make my own.  And I thought I’d share what I did with my readers. 

To start, I need to buy some foil baking containers.  I had hoped to find some smaller, rectangular-shaped shallow containers, but only found deeper ones.  I bought a five-pack of the deeper ones.  I also cleaned out our freezer of any of the meat products we don’t seem to be eating.  I’m either making recipes out of those products or baking them off in the oven to be re-frozen for later use. 

Here are some of my thoughts on things I could make and freeze:

  • Meatballs:  Tony’s mother gave me this idea a few years ago.  She made some amazing Swedish Meatballs and would cook a bunch of them off and then freeze them so when they wanted something easy, all she had to do was heat them up. 
  • Lasagna:  Although, this takes a bit more preparation than some other ideas, homemade lasagna is much better than store-bought.
  • Spaghetti:  Very simple, because you can get away with store-bought sauce (jazz it up a bit) and pasta is cheap and easy.  When you’re ready to make it, butter two sides of sliced bread and sprinkle with garlic powder, pepper, salt and a small amount of Italian seasoning and bake until golden.  Add cheese for cheese bread. 
  • Meatloaf:  Meatloaf is great, because it can be heated up with mashed potatoes and buttered corn or individual slices can be frozen and thawed for meatloaf sandwiches. 
  • Pot Pie:  You can make beef, chicken or turkey.  I used a mini springform pan to make my pot pies, because I didn’t have any mini pie pans.  Once the pie has cooled for 15 minutes, you can separate the springform and carefully remove from the bottom.
  • Various Chicken Dishes:  There’s a lot you can do with chicken.  You can season it various ways and bake it, stuff it with cheese, bread it—any number of things.  Serve with frozen vegetables, mashed potatoes or more.
  • Potato Wedges:  I had a bag of potatoes already and picked up some garlic potato wedge spice.  I’m going to bake them off in the oven and use them as sides with my meat dishes.
  • Burritos:  Burritos are excellent for the freezer.  I’m making breakfast burritos, but you can also do enchiladas, baked chicken wraps and more.   
  • Pizza:  Who doesn’t love pizza?  I guarantee your frozen homemade pizza will knock store-bought frozen pizza out of the park!

Since I don’t have enough baking dishes for everything, I’m going to create five meals using the aluminum pans, a few pot pies, homemade pizza and some breakfast burritos.  I’ll be taking pictures of the food I make and posting recipes, so check back for more.

Fresh Cucumber and Bean Salad: Low GI Menus


Today was the final day in my fourth week of Sásta.  I have successfully completed 12 sessions.  I didn’t miss a day or a week and I’ve stuck to the low GI lifestyle as best I can.  Of course, I still have a lot to learn and I’ve got a good ways to go before I’ve perfected my daily meals, but I’m doing great.

I knew going into this program that I probably would not see the same results as others.  The program promises the loss of one pant size in four weeks.  Because of my physical problems, I knew that this was not likely to be my outcome.  I have two separate heart conditions.  The first is heart block.  Basically, one side of my heart does not communicate with the other and so my heart stops beating.  Because of this issue, I have a pacemaker.  I’ve had it since I was 22.  I just turned 32 on Tuesday.

The second heart condition is rapid heart rate.  Because of this problem, I’m on medication to keep my heart rate regulated.  A doctor in Germany suggested that weight loss would be very difficult for me due to my heart problems.  Because my heart rate doesn’t do what it is supposed to, I would find it difficult to lose weight.  He wasn’t kidding.  I have tried many things over the past few years and though I’ve achieved slight weight loss here and there, nothing stuck.  For the most part, my weight stayed the same for a few years, but in 2011, it spun out of control and I packed on an additional 40-50 pounds.  I did lose some of that weight on my own and even losing just it would not make me completely happy (although happy enough).  I have a long road ahead of me, but I’ve come to realize that the time is going to pass anyway.  I may only lose a little bit each week.  I won’t see instant results, but as long as I am improving each week, I can’t ask or expect anything else.

Here are my current results.  As of last Monday, July 15th, 2013, I had lost just under 7 pounds (6.6 to be exact).  As of Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, I had lost 27.5 inches all over (measurements for tummy, hips, thighs, upper arms, forearms, neck, bust and calves).  Do I wish I had lost more weight?  Of course, but can I argue with 27.5 inches?  No.  I think it’s great.  I am building muscle too and I have improved my weight and inch loss each week.  As long as I’m continuing to lose each week, I will stay happy, although I realize that  there will come times/weeks when I don’t show any loss.  It happens to everyone.

My hope is that I continue to see the same inch loss each week through the end of August.

So, that being said, time for a recipe.  I still haven’t perfected a second cucumber soup recipe, but I have discovered this lovely salad that I can eat unlimited quantities of and I want to share it with you.

Ingredients

4 cups of cucumber, peeled and diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 cup of red onion, finely diced

1 cup of black eyed peas or British peas (canned)

2 Tablespoons of black olives, chopped

½ a cup of crumbled feta or salad cheese

2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

3 Tablespoons of olive oil

½ teaspoon of Italian seasonings

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Toss everything together in a bowl.  Refrigerate.  Serve cold.

This recipe has been slightly adapted from the recipe here: Cucumber Black Eyed Pea Salad 

About the Author

Beth Lytle works with The Site Gardener as copywriter and editor, project manager, and marketing director.  She also works on several other ongoing projects, including Seen It MagazineTranscription Connection, her Winded Gypsy expat blog and varying small projects.  Beth is also a distributor of It Works! Body wraps for weight loss.  Visit her site at http://slimmingireland.myitworks.com for further information.  Connect with Beth on Facebook for constant updates to her projects.

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