Struggling to whip up quick and satisfying meals on busy weeknights? Look no further! Here, seasoned food blogger Emmeline Kemperyd of always use butter shares her 10 best tips for easy weeknight cooking. From time-saving techniques to clever meal planning strategies, these valuable insights will help you streamline your cooking process and create delicious meals in no time, making your weeknight dinners a stress-free and enjoyable experience.
1. Start halfway
Cooking from scratch is amazing, but there's nothing wrong with taking a few shortcuts to save time. The best way to quickly get dinner on the table is to start halfway - using store bought ingredients. A great store bought ingredient to keep on hand is hummus - it's healthy, a good snack, and can be used to make quick dinners like this One-Pot Hummus Pasta.
2. Shop once
Running to the store every day is not just time consuming - it's also expensive! Shopping while hungry is the best way to end up with all the stuff you don't really need, and none of the stuff you do need... Instead, make a weekly shopping list and make sure you have groceries on hand for a few specific meals throughout the week, as well as some basics you know you can always cook something delicious from. If you make it a point to always put dried or frozen tortellini, bacon, eggs and Parmesan and/or Pecorino cheese on the list you always have what you need to make a quick Tortellini Carbonara, a dish the whole family will love!
3. Chop once
When time is really limited, you will love having chopped veggies on hand. Make a point of always chopping extra, and freeezing the leftovers. They're perfect to add to soups, stews, and more. I recommend checking out this guide from Sustainable Cooks on the best ways to chop and freeze veggies.
4. Cook once
Another great way to save time is to cook and freeze complete dishes, or main components of dishes. A great protein to batch cook and freeze is meatballs. It's just as easy to heat up frozen homemade meatballs as the store bought kind, the only difference is you know exactly what's in them, and they taste so much better!
5. Multitask your food
When you know a busy week is coming up, make sure to batch cook on the weekend. This way you will just have to do the finishing touches after work each day, and you can also set the same grain and/or protein to work for you throughout the week, but in different dishes. Hey Nutrition Lady has a great guide to how to batch cook for easier weeknight cooking.
While meal prepping, make sure to prep as many of the ingredients as you can. Even if you want different veggies every day, maybe you can chop all of them several days in advance? You can for example chop all the veggies for a Chicken Teriyaki Stir Fry on the weekend - and maybe even make a homemad Teriyaki sauce! - and cook it during the week.
7. Make a weekly salad
Make sure you get enough veggies in your diet by making a weekly salad. Make it on Sunday, and eat it as a side for all your dinners throughout the week. This way your dinner feels more complete, and becomes healthier, without you spending any extra time. Two great choices for weekly salads are cabbage and kale, as they hold up well for multiple days. This Cabbage & Kale Salad is a great choice that will taste delicous for up to 5 days.
8. Get leftovers
When cooking a delicious dinner, always make sure to get leftovers. While not all recipes are as tasty heated up the next day, most recipes are. Pasta dishes are often a safe bet, like this Green Curry Spaghetti.
9. Dump and bake
Dump and bake recipes are great for easy dinners. While they might take a while to get done, that time is mainly hands-off time in the oven, and a lot of these recipes you can also prep ahead. That means, combine all the ingredients in the morning or the night before - then pop it in the oven when you get home. Always use butter has lots of dump and bake recipes for you to try.
10. Set it and forget it
One of the best inventions for quick & easy dinners is the Instant Pot. Not only does it cook food quicker than other methods, it's also a mostly set-it-and-forget-it type of cooking. There is a bit of chopping to start for this Instant Pot Chicken Soup, but then just press "Start" and do something else while your food is cooking.
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