5 Ways to Make Dinner Easier
Many of us make New Year's resolutions related to food, homemade meals, and eating healthier, but this often leads to a lot of extra time spent in the kitchen making dinner for your family. It's no secret that creating healthy, homemade meals for your family can be a lot of work, but no matter what size family you're trying to feed, here are 5 failsafe tips to make it easier on yourself this year!
1. Cook in Bulk
This is one of the best ways to ensure you're setting yourself up for success. If you're making lasagna, you will save time and money by preparing multiple pans at once. If you make large batches of food at a time, you save on energy costs, trips to the grocery store, and so much time! Think about cooking on Sunday and doubling recipes like soups, chili, pizza dough, and baked meals to make sure you have enough food to last the entire week!
2. Have a Plan
There's nothing like planning your Tuesday around Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo and then realizing you don't have enough Parmesan cheese to complete the meal. In order to make your weekday dinners easier, it's so helpful to have a plan! It might seem like a tedious task at first, but fewer trips to the grocery store will save you time, money, and stress, so plan ahead! Take a little time to make a list of meals for the week, and try to have them build off of each other to save on prep work. If you're having roasted chicken on Monday, you can plan to make a little extra, then use the already cooked chicken in Tuesday's Chicken Alfredo. You just saved yourself 15-25 minutes!
3. Get to Know Your Freezer
A freezer is good for much more than just ice cream and frozen pizza. You can freeze nearly any meal. If you spend a little time cooking homemade meals in advance, you can easily toss them in the freezer for another day. Label and date everything, and simply move it from the freezer to the fridge the morning of or the night before and heat it up at dinnertime. A large freezer is one of the most useful appliances for any busy home. Plus, cooking in bulk and freezing leftovers will save you lots of money in the long run. You can plan meals based on what's on sale, then buy extra to take advantage of the discount. You buy discount bedding, toilet paper and more, so why not stock up on discounted food while you're at it?
4. Keep Back-Up Meals
When all else fails, it's easy to turn to the drive-thru and takeout menus, but you don't have to! It's always a good idea to have a few great back-up meal plans that almost anyone in your household can throw together. No, that doesn't mean boxed mac & cheese. Keep things like whole-wheat-pasta, jarred tomato sauce, and frozen broccoli on hand so you can throw something together at the very last minute. Another idea is buckwheat soba, chicken broth, and frozen mixed vegetables for a healthy weeknight ramen. You can purchase all of these ingredients for less than $10 at almost any grocery store in the country — which is still cheaper and faster than takeout!
5. Keep Your Kitchen Stocked
Instead of shopping for a week's worth of groceries, try to keep your kitchen fully stocked so you always have essential items like spices, oils, vinegars, beans, and other non-perishables that will last a long time. This way you won't have to stop at the store on your way home from work just to get a little sesame oil or a jar of garlic powder. If you're worried about space, look at creative bathroom accessories and storage items, then utilize them to organize the kitchen cabinets and pantry! A well-stocked kitchen is a happy kitchen.