Between multiple schedules to juggle, to-do lists that always run too long, and varied meal requests, getting dinner on the table Monday through Friday can be a struggle. With a little advanced planning, some prep work, and simple healthy recipes that can be whipped up quickly, you can have dinner on the table in 25 minutes—and feel good about what you’re serving too.
- Make a plan
While it’s impossible to predict everything that’s going to come up in the week, having a rough idea of meals you’re going to cook tends to make nightly execution easier. Try listing 3 or 4 meals you plan to make that week, look at all the ingredients and head to the store. Having all the ingredients on-hand is key to quick nightly execution. With creativity and planning done, you’re one step ahead of the challenge.
- Prep your week
Spend a bit of time on Sunday (or any day you can sneak in an hour or two of kitchen time) and prep in advance! Pre-cook things like protein-packed quinoa, or brown rice. Roast winter vegetables, including squash, Brussels sprouts, beets, carrots, turnips, and beans. Chop raw veggies and store in airtight containers. Having these foods ready to go in the fridge will allow for faster prep-to-table weeknight meals. You can also prep whole meals and then store them in the freezer, to pull out and dump in your slow cooker on a Tuesday morning, ready as soon as you get home. Start with these three freeze ahead slow cooker recipes.
- Make extra
While you’re going through the effort to cook, why not make a little more? Meals like soup or homemade bean burgers are great options to put in a freezer-safe container and pull out on one of those busy nights when you didn’t get the chance to prep ahead.
- It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it can still be tasty
Often we get it in our mind that cooking dinner needs to be this elaborate process that produces a gourmet result. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. You can definitely whip up a simple meal, in a short amount of time, with the right tools and ingredients on-hand.
Once you’ve tucked these tips away, test drive their time-saving powers by applying them to these 3 easy recipes:
Not only does is this recipe ready from start-to-finish in under 30 minutes, but it only dirties one pot. That way you can spend the time after dinner doing one of the many other things on you to-do list that doesn’t involve a sink full of dishes.
Skip takeout and whip up a batch of homemade peanut noodles. Buy pre-shredded and julienned fresh veggies so that you don’t have to spend your time chopping. The heat can be easily adjusted by how much sriracha you add.
Pre-cooked rice (or even instant rice) gets a flavor boost from cilantro and limes, and then you can add your favorite burrito-inspired toppings. To take it to the next level, add pre-seasoned tofu for a protein boost.
What’s your go-to weeknight meal recipe?