Dinner without food.

An essential tool for a busy parent is the ability to make dinner without food. Not literally without food, but without planning, shopping, or preparing. I am all about the plan, but sometimes I forget something at the store, or they are out of a vegetable that I want, and I am left to improvise. If you have a handful of recipes that you can make with pantry staples, you can handle dinner without a total meltdown (by you, anyway).

One such dinner for us is my version of spaghetti carbonara. All you need is some pasta (preferably spaghetti or a long noodle), eggs, some sort of pork product, butter, and cream or milk. I usually throw in peas for good measure. My quick version:
1. Cook spaghetti. I use whole wheat when I can.
2. Put frozen peas in boiling spaghetti at the last minute.
3. Drain spaghetti and peas.
4. In same pot, saute chopped pork in a little butter. You can use bacon, proscuitto, or ham. Most people usually have one around. If I have it I throw in garlic.
5. Return spaghetti and peas to pot. Turn off heat. Crack and add one egg. Work fast, tossing the spaghetti so the egg doesn’t scramble. Add cream/milk and butter.
6. I add parmesan cheese.

My four year old ate an entire bowl without looking up, including all the peas. It isn’t the healthiest meal in the world, but if you use low fat milk and more peas than ham, it isn’t too rich. And you have all the ingredients on hand every day.

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