Weeknight Dinner Shortcuts That Might Change Your Life
Tuesday January 13, 2015see more by jen
Susanne’s 22 weeknight dinner shortcuts below just might change your life. Seriously. When I read them, I immediately thought, “why haven’t I been doing these things already?!” Enjoy mamas. They are brilliant! If you agree -will you please pin the image and help share the love? Thank you!
Last week I shared that Oprah.com shared four of Susanne’s amazing do ahead weeknight dinner shortcuts that save a ton of time when pulling together a meal. Susanne had so many of these types of tips I had to write a post with all the shortcuts she came up with. Hope they help!
Weeknight Dinner Shortcuts – It’s All About the Prep
If you can set aside some time on Sunday, or even Monday morning if you have kids in school, these easy do ahead food prep tips will save you a ton of time.
1. Make a rub for salmon, pork or chicken thighs and store in an airtight container.
2. Chop an onion, lasts 1 week in an airtight container.
3. Chop garlic, store in an airtight container with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil to cover.
4. Make your own vinaigrette, which lasts for about 1 week – it makes for a quick healthy salad, use it as a marinade or drizzle it over some steamed veggies for extra flavor.
5. Trim + clean veggies on Sunday, and then they are ready for steaming during the week. Quick cooking method for the night of – just add about 1 inch of water in your pot to boil quickly, and place in a sieve covered with a lid. Try to slightly under steam to keep the crunch/nutrients.
6. Prepare your brown rice, quinoa or noodles, etc. on Sunday and store in an airtight container to heat up quickly for an easy side dish. Heat up the night of serving with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil or butter to bring back to life.
7. Slice carrots, celery, bell peppers, jicama, broccoli, cauliflower or whatever raw veggies your kids like and serve it as a side with ranch or hummus (or fave dip). Or you can serve it as an app to get the veggies in your kids bellies while mom is scrambling to get the rest of dinner together. It’s fun to let the kids pick a new veggie when they’re at the store with you to try something new – my girls discovered they like broccoflower.
8. When preparing your Sunday Dinner, make double and freeze half. If you do this immediately (instead of letting it sit in the fridge a few days) you don’t think of it as “leftovers” but a second dinner.
9. Choose a versatile protein for your Sunday night dinner and make extra so then you can add it to salads, twice baked potatoes (or sweet potatoes), paninis, flatbread pizzas, tacos, pastas or stir fry during the week. (Think pulled pork, roasted chicken, flank steak, pork loin, etc.)
10. Toast nuts and store in airtight container to sprinkle on salads or veggies.
11. Take inventory of your freezer proteins to help plan for the week and build your menus around what you might already have on hand.
12. Poach a whole chicken in the crock pot, then shred it and have protein for the rest of the week. Cheaper and better for you (less salt!) than those rotisserie chickens you can buy. Save the stock and you also have chicken stock for the week to save or freeze in ice cube trays to add to recipes.
Easy Weeknight Menu Ideas
Most important thing is to keep things simple and take it easy on yourself, you are doing an amazing job getting a home cooked meal on the table for your family. Try not to get caught up in, I don’t have such + such ingredient and then get paralyzed. Most of the time you’ll find your family won’t miss it. The focus is sitting down to a healthy meal with your family and connecting.
13. Buy thin cuts of meat like thin sliced chicken breast, chicken tender pieces, pork chops, salmon, sole, etc… the thin cuts cook quicker.
14. After you’re done sautéing your meat, take it out and cover it with foil and quickly sauté your prepped veggies in the same pan with a little EVOO, garlic + onion. That pan will give your veggies a ton of flavor and it’s less to clean up.
15. “Breakfast for Dinner” breakfast is always quick to cook and usually a big hit mid week. A fave in our house are Egg BLT sandwiches with a little side salad.
16. Factor a Crock Pot recipe into your busiest day, and these always make for great leftovers (or freeze for a second dinner).
17. Don’t be afraid of a big salad for dinner, throw everything in to make it filling, your fave veggies, croutons, beans, cheese, crumbled bacon, or salami other deli meats on hand, hard boiled eggs, etc. We love making tuna salad or egg salad and serving a big scoop over power greens (or fave salad) with cannelini beans, avocado, tomato, green onion. If your kids protest the salad, serve it “deconstructed” or separated into groups on their plates so they are eating the same things but just not tossed together.
18. Embrace tradition– my girls are super into Taco Tuesday Night right now- and tacos can be made out of anything! Ground beef, chicken, salmon, diced pork chop, whatever you have on hand that you can sauté up with a little onion, garlic and oregano salt and pepper. All you need from there is tortilla, cheese, salsa and/or guac any veggies you like to add…
19. Think raw foods for your side dishes, a beautiful sliced avocado or tomato drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper is so delicious and nutritious. Or sliced cucumber with a drizzle of rice vinegar, shaved zucchini ribbons topped with EVOO, parm cheese and salt + pepper.
20.Keep frozen peas and frozen corn (or fave veggies) on hand for a quick and easy side dish, sauté with a touch of butter salt and pepper. They are flash frozen and are fresher than their canned counterparts.
21. We love Bragg Liquid Aminos which is like a spray soy sauce, for our steamed veggies. [amazon affiliate link]
22. One-pot dinners are great and less to clean up! Chili, big batches of soup, one-pot pasta, etc. Freeze half of the batch for easy dinners later on for our busiest days.
I hope you have found these weeknight dinner shortcuts helpful! Do you have any of your own to share? Please comment below!