Following is a Guest post from Foodie in WV on 10 Quick Dinner Ideas for Busy Families. For fun recipes and other great cooking tips, please feel free to stop by at the site.
With two growing boys in my household I try to save as much time as I can on meal prep. Since I cook almost everything from scratch I have learned a number of ways to save time, while not sacrificing quality. Here is a list of 10 quick dinner ideas for busy families.
- Try to prep as many things as you can ahead. On weekends I cut up any vegetables that I can (things like cilantro and parsley should not be pre-prepped or they lose flavor) and place them in containers in the fridge. That way all I have to do is take out the vegetables and add them to my recipe. It save a large amount of time during dinner prep.
- Make a full menu plan before grocery shopping. Not only does this save money, but it also allows you to have flexibility during the week. I place my menu plan for the week on my fridge and then I can chose any meal that I want to make during the week.
- It’s great to want to make complex meals. However, I make sure to keep a lot of flexibility in my menu plans. Each week I chose a number of meals that take less than 1/2 hour to prepare. Some days due to schedule etc. there just isn’t the time to make meals that take an hour and with the menu plan in place you have less of a chance that you will resort to take-out.
- Modify recipes to suit everyone’s tastes. I have never made separate meals for my kids. Instead I modify recipes to make sure that everyone will eat them. For example if a dish has jalapenos, I seed them in order that the recipe won’t be too spicy for my kids. This way I don’t spend hours in the kitchen or feel like a short order cook.
- Have your kids help in the kitchen. Having kids help with meal prep can be beneficial for you and them. I allow my kids easy tasks that don’t involve knives. They are great at getting ingredients out and it creates a perfect learning environment for teaching math.
- Use leftovers for another meal. I always try to make two meals out of every recipe. For example a roasted chicken recipe can be used for chicken salad sandwiches later in the week. This saves a lot of money and my kids never notice that they are eating the same food twice.
- Re-use everything from a meal. For example make roasted chicken one night, which is quick and easy. Then use the leftover bones to make stock and the meat for chicken noodle soup. The best part about making your own stock is that you can literally use almost any vegetable you have in the fridge. It is a great way to use vegetables that have gone past their prime. Plus it is much less expensive than store bought and you can reduce the amount of sodium.
- Chose recipes that include everything in one meal. I hate having to make 4 different sides for dinner. It takes a lot of time and costs more money. Instead I cook recipes that include meat as an ingredient and have large amounts of vegetables. That way I only have to make rice, couscous etc and I’m done. Plus it makes my kids more likely to eat a full serving of vegetables since it part of the main dish.
- Utilize your crock-pot or pressure cooker. I love that I can put everything into my crock pot in the morning and no matter how crazy the rest of the day is it will be done at dinner time. You can make everything from desserts to main courses in the crock pot. I have even made bread recipes. It’s a great kitchen tool.
- Locate all your ingredients before cooking. I like to have all the spices, flour, etc on the table before I start cooking. That way I don’t spend 15 minutes looking for something while dinner burns on the stove.
Hope you enjoyed reading 10 Quick Dinner Ideas for Busy Families. There are many great ways to make sure that a delicious dinner makes it to your family’s table every night. The most important thing to remember is that cooking should first and foremost be enjoyable. Find ways to save time so that cooking doesn’t become a chore.