Weeknight Meals Made Easy
By: Aleks Nearing
About two years ago I noticed I was resorting to the old frozen pizza at least once a week for our weekday dinners. I was not exactly pleased with this trend, and I wanted to change the way our family was eating. I solicited advice from friends, family and coworkers for ideas to help make mealtime go more smoothly. Since then, one of my top priorities has been to make sure my family and I eat a healthy, balanced diet.
While I can’t claim to have a five course meal set at our dinner table every night, I do try hard to provide our family with home-cooked meals and healthy snack options for the school or work day. These tips help me save time during the weeknight chaos at home.
Whip out your crock pot and experiment with some crock pot meals. There is nothing better than coming home to a hot dinner. You can make a full meal like beef stew, chili or soup, or cook your main course like pulled chicken or a roast that you can quickly serve with steamed vegetables and other favorite sides. Try out the Hearty Pot Roast or Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna for an easy weeknight meal.
Develop a set of quick, easy recipes. I can list from memory at least a dozen quick, healthy meals that are ready in under 20 minutes. There are many resources where you can find quick meal ideas online, like Produce for Kids' Ideal Meals®,or you can experiment with your own recipe.
Seek out one-pot meals. There are many balanced meals you can make in one pot in order to save time. I often make chili, soups, pasta bakes and casseroles that serve as our main weeknight dinner option. If you prefer more variety to your meal, you can serve your pasta bake with a side salad that is quick to prepare.
Prepare components of your meal the night before. Chop your onions and vegetables and store over night so that they are ready to go. Marinate your chicken breasts and even cook your rice, pasta or grains to be reheated the next day. Even simple steps like trimming and prepping your meat in advance can save you precious time in the midst of a hectic day.
Get some help. Task your child with prepping the salad and selecting the vegetables to go in it while you put together the main course. Ask your spouse to pick up any missing ingredients on the way home or help prepare a portion of the meal. Family meals should be a family effort!