6 Tips To Quick & Easy Weeknight Dinners for Family
Do you struggle to find the time to prepare a hearty, healthy weeknight meal for the family? As the fall approaches and kids head back to school (whether virtually or in-person this year) we know that your time is of value. So we are here to share 6 tips for quick & easy weeknight dinners so you can spend less time in the kitchen, and more time at the dinner table with your family!
Read on to learn how a little bit of planning and preparing can help save you time in the kitchen, as well as our favorite styles of preparing weeknight meals!
Tips for easy weeknight dinners for family:
- Plan Ahead! Take 10 minutes out of your weekend to plan out your weeknight meals. While this sounds counterintuitive to spend time on your weekend, you’ll thank us later during the school week! Planning takes the guesswork out of what you will be having each night and minimizes last-minute meal prep. Use a weekly calendar to write out your meals, and better yet, get your kids involved to help pick a meal for the week. (Or try our Meal Plans.) This will also help build your grocery list – not only leading to money savings and decreased food waste, but also, no wandering around the house looking for that missing ingredient!
- Prep Ahead! After you grocery shop, rather than putting all of your produce away, take 30 minutes to wash, peel & chop your veggies; mince and chop garlic & herbs; zest & juice your lemons; and freeze (if using later in the week), or marinate your meats. Prepping ahead leads to big-time savings on the “little things” when you dinner prep comes around during the work and school week.
- Batch Cook! With the fall and winter months upon us, it is an ideal time to throw together large pots of chili, soups, and sauces. A hearty minestrone or bean chili are our weekly go-to’s during the fall and wintertime! While putting together your Sunday night dinner, take the time to let chili, soup, or sauce simmer in the background. Having soup and chili on hand to quickly reheat during the week takes some time on the front end, but leads to saved time during the busy work or school week. Looking to save even more time? Double the recipe and freeze half for use at a later time when you are not able to invest as much time in weekend-prep. You can find our All the Veggies Soup HERE.
- Take out the Crockpot! While the “cook” time is not considered “quick” as most crockpot meals take 6-8 hours to roast & simmer, the prep time can be done in no time (it just takes a little planning and prep ahead of time)! Simmer your roast in a pan, throw in your (already chopped) veggies, herbs, and spices into the crockpot the morning before you head off to work or take the kids to school. Not only will you come home to a yummy smell, but a delicious dinner will also be awaiting you and your family when you get home. Check out our crockpot savory Italian chicken recipe HERE.
- Sheet Pan Dinners! With your veggies already chopped and prepped from the weekend, and your meat pre-marinated waiting in the fridge to be cooked, all you need to do is preheat the oven. While your oven is preheating, throw your protein, veggie, and starch on a sheet pan and dinner will be ready in no time. Better yet, by using only one sheet pan, that means less clean up and more time saved on your weeknight! Be sure to check out our go-to Lemon Dill Salmon & Asparagus recipe HERE in less than 20 minutes you will have a gourmet dinner on your family’s dinner table.
- Pantry staples! Keeping your pantry stocked with shelf-stable beans, legumes, brown rice, & whole grain pasta, and your freezer filled with frozen veggies can lead to a variety of last-minute dinner ideas. At the end of the day, enjoying your meals with your family around the table is key. You can read more about Meals from Pantry Staples HERE.
Recap on these easy weeknight dinner tips
While the above changes may seem unrealistic to make all at once, start with one or two changes to your weeknight meal prep routine to help save you time, and money! These small settle changes will become habit over time, leading to more time spent at the dinner table with friends and family!
Jamie is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in nutrition. She has a background helping families use nutrition in support of health conditions and has spent the past five years in pediatric oncology. Having relied on the Mediterranean Diet as her nutrition philosophy for many years, Jamie is both a Mediterranean Diet expert and a health coaching expert who can help you look, feel, and be your best. More about Jamie here.