Today instead of the usual Menu Monday, I wanted to start a discussion with advice for those who feel there isn’t enough time on a weeknight to cook a meal. I don’t live in a 9 – 5 world, sometimes I know I lose sight of what that is like1 -and sometimes I really, really wish I lived in that world. Grass is greener syndrome, I guess.
Ways to cope with busy night dinners.
Have a plan. We all have bad days where we don’t like to cook, but not having any clue what is on hand makes life hard. Sit down and figure out what can be made with ingredients on hand. Coming home at 5:45 and staring in the fridge makes putting dinner on the table by 6:30 a nightmare. Doing this every night is a recipe for misery and drudgery. If you have never meal planned, I have a series on how to get started with meal planning.
Do what you can ahead of time. Yeah, you caught me, that’s another way of saying have a plan.
Brown and freeze ground beef, be sure to label it with the date and if it has been seasoned for taco meat.
Bell peppers can also be diced and frozen ahead of time, but only if they will be used as an ingredient. They will be softer than their fresh counterparts.
Wash and process some produce the day it is brought home. A handful of grapes or already cut carrot sticks added to a dinner plate takes no time and who couldn’t use that extra serving.
Grill or cook extra meat every time. Extra burger patties can be crumbled into spaghetti or pasta, extra chicken breasts served over salads. Pork can be cubed and tossed with rice and vegetables. Pre-cooked chicken is very versatile, it can used in salads, pot pies, quiches /frittatas, omelets, pasta, a million different casseroles -that’s hot dish for you Minnesotans. Really though, watch how often you reach for Cream of X soup, it’s not healthy. There is a quick homemade alternative called bechamel. It’s not low fat, but it’s better than the canned stuff.
Bake or roast extra vegetables or potatoes on the weekend. You have tried roasted broccoli, right? Any of these make excellent side dishes reheated or can be chopped and thrown into an omelet, frittata, or turned into a skillet .
Utilize planned overs.
Don’t underestimate the sandwich, in all of its forms -melts, open faced, wraps, lettuce wraps, cabbage wraps.
Make extra pasta, run it under cold water drain, toss with a small amount of olive oil and store in the refrigerator. In the morning, throw in your favorite dressing, some chopped vegetables, and it’ll be excellent by the time you get home from work. (Be sure to store it in the fridge).
When cooking on the weekend double or triple (TRUSTED) recipes and put them in the freezer. Soup, chili, and stews can all be made in large batches and frozen to thaw and reheat later
So Home Eccers, what advice do you have to share?
1For the record, working from home with three small children, homeschooling, and having a spouse who works rotating 12 hour shifts is not exactly a life of leisure.
2Yes, that’s an affiliate link, but it is a handy way to show you what I’ve been using for 6 years.