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No matter what your schedule, you're going to end up preparing a meal on the run every now and again. I try to keep the ingredients for several quick and easy meals on hand so I'm not in a bind when I'm rushed for time and have to throw a quick meal together. Here are some of my family's favorites:

Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
I always keep several cans of Campbell's condensed tomato soup and saltine crackers on hand. Just add a can of milk or water to one can of soup and you're in business. My husband prefers his grilled cheese sandwiches prepared with butter in the skillet, but I often leave out the butter completely by first toasting the bread in the toaster oven, adding the sliced cheese, and then microwaving until the cheese melts.

Stir Fry
There are a number of generic frozen stir fries on the market now that are very reasonably priced. I have to pick through them to find a vegetable combination my family likes, but there really are many to choose from. You just add your choice of beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp, and it only takes about 10 minutes to prepare in the skillet. I add a little soy sauce for extra flavor.

Spaghetti
I always stock up on jars of spaghetti sauce when they're on sale. I prefer to make my own, but when I'm pressed for time these jars of sauce come in really handy. My family of three only eats about half of the sauce at one time, so I freeze the leftover sauce (the cooked hamburger added), and the next time it just needs to be thawed out and added to the cooked spaghetti noodles. We used to throw away a lot of leftover garlic bread, but I found that especially when we're not planning on having spaghetti ahead of time, toast with butter and garlic powder is a very acceptable substitute. We actually decided we liked the garlic toast better so I don't even bother with the garlic bread anymore. Just add a salad and you have a complete meal.

Chicken Burgers
I often run across frozen breaded chicken patties on sale. These make a great quick meal, any time of the day. They can be eaten alone or on a hamburger bun. Just add mayonnaise, lettuce, and maybe a slice of tomato. We like to eat these with frozen french fries and maybe a jello salad.

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who publishes the Creative Homemaking Recipe of the Week Club, a weekly newsletter that contains quick, easy dinner ideas and money-saving household hints. To subscribe send a blank e-mail message to [email protected]. Visit Creative Homemaking at http://www.creativehomemaking.com and in the Home and Garden section of Suite 101 - http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/creative_homemaking
 
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