Friday, July 4, 2014

Fast and Easy Meal for a busy day - crock pot! And, vacation budget.

So, I took a day off work this week to take the family to the water park.  We got sunburned.  (Sunscreen washed off, and you know that white stripe you get from your flip flops on your feet?  Yeah, mine's red now.  So our 4th?  Not going to the beach.  Even though the water is supposedly SO WARM this year.)

Before we left, I decided to throw some food in the crock pot.  I had these raw chicken tenders in the freezer from Trader Joe's.  I found a great recipe for sesame honey chicken. But decided it would be MUCH easier to just use the TJ's Island Soyaki.  So, two ingredients: chicken, and TJ's sauce (which, you know, is made of a bunch of ingredients.  I realize this.)

Cook on low all day.  Now, with small tenders, they got overcooked.  But they were tasty (bone in or dark meat or larger pieces would be better).

When we got home, late, I got out the rice cooker.  But our rice cooker, and brown rice = 1.5 hours.  Instead, I pulled out my trusty Pressure Cooker cookbook from Lorna Sass.  I toasted up the rice, added water, salt, and voila!  45 minutes later (including heat up and cool down) rice is done.  Simple steamed broccoli finished the meal.  The boys were SO HUNGRY they mowed through it, including the toddler - he was mostly into the rice and broccoli, opposite of normal for my little meat lover.

The total cost for the water park was about $100 for 5 people (we took a friend).  Entry into the water park was $12/person, plus $10 for parking = $70.  We picked up sandwiches on the way, took bottled water and snacks - that was about $30.  It's a fairly pricey day.

As far as vacation days though, it's not too bad.  I used to be a lover of great vacations - Hawaii was my friend!  But with kids, it's different.  I read recently that mothers don't take vacations, they take trips.  So true.

When it comes to vacations, I now try to substitute cheaper options.  I love Hawaii - why?  Pool, beach, tropics.  How do I get that cheaper?  Go to the beach at home, in the summer.  Water park will take the place of the pool.  Or perhaps take a vacation to San Diego - save yourself the $800/person airfare.

So the water park is a substitute for Disneyland or Hawaii, not a regular thing.  Hiking or the zoo is a substitute for day trips to the water park...a slow decrease in the expense of the vacations.  As opposed to pre-kid days, when they get pricier and pricier!

2 comments:

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Meri said...

I like the idea of this two ingredient crockpot recipe!