Let's say you get home one evening around 7:30. You're hungry. You've had a long day. You're tired. The idea of "shopping" your pantry and fridge doesn't sound very appealing. This was my scenario one night last week, but thanks to a decently stocked fridge/freezer, even without a plan, I had a meal ready to go in about 15 minutes.
There was leftover cooked rice in the freezer, so I grabbed that and got it to defrosting in the microwave. While that was spinning away, I found some coconut curry marinated tempeh strips in the fridge, and also a container of Maiya Kaimal coconut curry sauce. I diced the strips and put those on to saute in a pan with a few spritzes of cooking spray.
While that was browning, I grabbed a bag of Trader Joe's frozen stir fry veggies from the freezer.
The tempeh only took a few minutes to get as brown as I like it (which is pretty brown!), and when it was done I transferred it from the pan to a plate. Added the frozen veggies and a couple tablespoons of the coconut curry sauce to the pan. Once they cooked down a bit, I added half the container and let them simmer on low. By now the rice was thawed and warm.
I had a delicious coconut tempeh curry ready in about 15 minutes thanks to some convenience products. Would a long-simmered sauce be better? Yes, and when I have time, I do that. There's a lot of satisfaction that comes with creating something from scratch and letting it do its magic to become delicious food. But for most of us, especially on the weekdays, we just need to get a tasty and reasonably healthy meal on the table. I tend to have things like this on hand for just such occasions. I didn't really have a plan for the tempeh or the sauce, and I bought them weeks apart. But remember that many things can be frozen! So when you find something on sale, or if it's getting a little too close to the expiration date and it doesn't look like you're going to get to it--freeze it! A quick defrost in the microwave works for a lot of things, and if you can think to transfer it from the freezer to the fridge before you leave for the day, it should be thawed by the time you return home.
Oh, and for all you curry haters out there, this was not overly "curry-ish" at all. Even The G-Ma was crazy about it, and she's not one for anything spicy or too "weird." This was very mild, but really tasty and super easy. I only used one pan, 15 minutes, and made a meal that could feed four or provide leftovers for one or two.