Dinner is the one meal when everybody comes together, usually at the end of a very long day. It’s the longest to prepare and the fastest to eat making dinner preparations understandably exhausting and unnecessarily time consuming. Having dinner with your family is a blessing, and one of the main ways to keep the relationships in your family strong, but the work that goes into cooking up a mutli-dish meal for your loved ones isn’t usually at the top of our lists.
Wash, Chop, and Store Your Veggies Straight From the store- after grocery shopping, take an additional ten minutes to clean and chop any vegetables you know you’ll be using in the upcoming week. Store then in sealed zip lock bag with a damp paper towel to maintain crispness. During the week, they’ll be ready and available to use saving you valuable chopping time. Be sure to do this with your onions and garlic as well!
Make Enough to Have Leftovers- You may be worried about food going to waste but there’s no sense cooking up a meal from scratch every night when dinner from the night before was perfectly delicious. Proteins like meat can be thrown together with pasta for a filling meal that’s already full of flavor or shredded and served over mashed potatoes and topped with gravy. There are a limitless amount of ideas when it comes to leftovers and just remember; when it doubt everything’s better with a little cheese.
Save Your Scraps- Yes, it may be slightly off putting to save the parts of our food we would normally discard, but these scraps can be used to make delicious stocks that can be frozen and pulled out for quick soups in a pinch. Place leftover peels, cores, and bones in an airtight container and store in the freezer until they’re ready to be used. Simply add seasoning and water, letting the stock come to a boil and simmer on low for several hours. The longer the better, and you’ll be rewarded with a delicious put of homemade broth full of nutritional benefits.
Stock up on precooked rice, pasta, and non-perishable items that can be prepared in a pinch. Dry pasta and rice can serve as the basis for any dinner and usually require minimal additions for a flavorful and filling meal. If you’ve prepped food earlier in the week, a complete dinner can be as easy as simple Grilled Chicken ziti with Broccoli Rabe and Shaved Parmesan. Bring it from the pot to the table in under twenty minutes!
Cook for the Week Ahead- We tend to make the most out of our precious weekends but designating a few hours on a leisurely Sunday to prepare the weeks meals can actually save you lengthy prep time during the week. Instead of preparing specific meals for each night, cook up batches of protein and veggies so they can be added to different dishes to make unique meals on their own. Grill chicken and fry batches of ground beef for tacos on Tuesday and chili on Thursday. This is also a great lunch prep idea especially if you have quite a few little ones in school.
These simple tips and tricks are a surefire way to save you time and energy during the week so you can spend it with people who mean the most. Prepping food ahead of time is much easier than you think. It’s also a great way for kids to throw together an after school snack when no one is home. There are also certain things like sauces, soups, and casseroles that can be cooked and stored for up to a year, giving you the ability to pull out a great dish at a moment’s notice, so you’ll never have to order takeout again!