Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Five Tips to Simplify Your Busy Weeknight Family Dinners #weeknightcooking #familydinner #simplifydinner

The weeknight family dinner is a centerpiece of American life -- nourishing, delicious food and family conversation. However, it can be a stressful and chaotic experience for the person in charge of planning and cooking these meals. However, it doesn't have to be! Today, The Weekend Gourmet correspondent is sharing five great tips to help simplify and streamline the hectic weeknight family dinner process. This post may contain affiliate links.

Most people don’t realize how much time it takes to cook a family meal. While you typically don’t need to go through all three courses -- and you can get some prep help from your partner -- there’s a surprising amount of work involved. That means planning and cooking weeknight family dinner can be quite daunting for one person to tackle. In this post, we’re going to share tips to help simplify the busy weeknight dinners. Hopefully these tips will save you valuable time and make things a lot less stressful whenever you cook.

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1. Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time

The last thing you want to do is to forget a key recipe ingredient when you grocery shopping. If you plan your meals in advance, it can be easier to (1) budget for dinner and (2) prepare certain ingredients ahead of time. Look at recipes such as this crock pot pork roast from Yellow Bliss, check out the ingredient list, and then make sure you purchase ingredients a day or two in advance. By planning ahead, you can eliminate the need to run out to the grocery store to pick up a missing/forgotten ingredient.

2. Prep Whenever You Have Time

Simple things like cutting up vegetables or mixing batter can --and should -- be completed ahead of time if possible. Food prep is one of the more time-consuming components of cooking dinner, so being prepared is never a bad idea. You can chop up vegetables -- or portion meats and freeze them in smaller packages so you have an easier time controlling your portions.

3. Shortcuts Aren’t Necessarily a Bad Thing

Don’t be afraid to use kitchen shortcuts! You don’t have to make everything from scratch, and there are times when you can even mix in takeout food or store-bought items to make things a bit easier...and save time. For example: pick up food like wings or chips and queso for a starter, because it's easier and far more convenient than attempting to make these foods at home. That leaves time to focus on the dinner main dish.

4. Discuss with Your Family What They Want to Eat

Whether it’s new diet ideas or a recipe that you want to try, make sure you discuss what meals you’ll be serving each week with your family. This will ensure there are no complaints or arguments at dinner time -- and it can help you plan out your meals ahead of time. This is especially important for kids -- of all ages -- who are picky eaters.

5. Wash, Dry, and Prep Food as Soon as You Get Home

When you come home from grocery shopping, make it a habit to wash, dry, and portion food into plastic zip bags. Mark the bags if you plan to use them at a later date, then store the bags in the freezer fridge. Doing so takes some extra time while you're putting away your groceries...but it has a number of advantages. It will make it easier to find the ingredients you need when you’re cooking specific recipes, it streamlines weeknight cooking, and it also saves space in your refrigerator and freezer.

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