If you’re working, have a family, have after-school/after-work activities, or are basically a human living in the US. . . making healthy dinners every night during the week is probably a challenge. Dinners don’t have to be a struggle. In this post I’ll share with you 5 simple weeknight dinner time-savers to make dinner time less of a challenge and a lot more enjoyable.
1. Make a meal plan. This may seem like a no-brainer to some but I always find it interesting when I talk with clients who are struggling with healthy eating and don’t make a meal plan each week. This one strategy will save you a ton of time and ensure that you know what you’re making and have the ingredients before you’re standing in the kitchen ready to make dinner. Want some help with this? Check out my book Real Food, Real Simple.
2. Prep a salad that keeps. Whether you make a whole grain or bean/lentil salad or a bag of pre-cut green salad, salads make awesome side dishes and veggie-filled additions to dinners. Make a big salad on the weekend, keep it in the fridge, and its ready to go when you’re in a pinch at dinner time.
3. Make a big batch of soup, stew, or chili. Soups are warm, filling, and can easily be loaded up with fresh veggies and protein like beans, lentils, or lean meat. Make a big pot on the weekend and simply heat it up during the week when you’re in need of a quick and easy dinner. Soups, stews, and chili are also great with that salad you made for the week (hint, hint).
4. When cutting veggies, cut more for later. This trick is a sweet little shortcut that I use all the time. For example, if you’re going to make a Black Bean Soup with Quick and Easy Kale for dinner, then an omelet for breakfast don’t work so hard. All three dishes share ingredients– cut them all up at once! Cut the kale for the soup, kale dish, and omelet all at the same time. If you’re cutting onions for the soup, keep cutting them for the kale dish, and omelet too. It takes a lot less time to just cut more of the same thing once than it does to get it out, open the bag its in, wash it, cut it, etc.
5. Cook beans and grains once, use them again. Beans and grains take quite a bit of time to soak and cook (most of them do at least). For example, if you’re going to make black beans. . . soak the beans, cook them, then use them throughout the week to put in Black Bean Soup, Black Bean Burgers, and Black Bean Burritos. Cooked brown rice can be topped with a Thai Curry, in Veggie Fried Rice, in Sushi Nori Rolls, or in a Brown Rice Risotto– no need to wait an hour for the rice to cook, its done and waiting in the fridge for when you want to use it.
Use these tips to make weeknight dinners go more smoothly. Have a tip you want to share with others? Leave a comment!