My schedule has been pretty crazy the past few weeks.

All the extra hours I’ve spent at work are catching up with me, leaving me too tired most nights to feel like spending much time in the kitchen.

It would be super easy to pick up fast food to avoid cooking, but I refuse to eat unhealthy food just because I’m too tired to mess with making a meal.

Instead, I try to shop smarter, buying foods that can be prepared quickly. I often buy frozen vegetable stir fry mixes, add precooked, diced chicken and steam it on the stove with water or chicken broth. It cooks in about 20 minutes, which is how long it takes me to prepare microwavable brown rice to serve with it.

It’s not my favorite meal, but it’s ready quickly and offers lean protein and plenty of vegetables. Plus, I always end up with enough left over for lunch the next day, making one less meal to prepare.

Another quick option is tacos. I can brown ground beef, add seasoning and let it simmer all in the time it takes to prep lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and salsa to serve with it.

I usually make my own salsa, but when I’m pressed for time, I go the store-bought route, being careful to avoid brands that add sugar during processing.

If I don’t want to bother with ground beef, I go for chicken fajitas. Several brands make precooked, frozen fajita options that can be microwaved or thrown on my George Foreman grill, ready to serve in about 10 minutes. Some even have the onions and peppers mixed in, saving even more prepping and cooking time.

Hopefully, work will slow down and I’ll have more time to relax and enjoy cooking, but at least I’ll still be eating well in the meantime.

M. Clare Haefner enjoys cooking, most of the time.  Contact her at or 254-501-7551.

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