Here are 5 tips for making mealtime easy, quick and delicious. These ideas will cut down on time, stress and repeating the dreadful question: What’s for dinner? Getting dinner to the table is the last thing you want to think about after a long day at work. But with some planning and these helpful hints, mealtime can be a time to enjoy your family and a comforting meal.
Tip #1: Mealtime Planning
Mealtime goes a lot smoother when you are not restricted by the ingredients you have on hand. This doesn’t mean your pantry and fridge need to be bursting at the seams, though. Meal planning is an excellent way not only to ensure you have what you need, but that you also have a plan for that head of cabbage that seemed like a good purchase at the time. There’s no need for this task to be daunting. Just think of a few meals for the week when you make out your grocery list. Plan for leftovers at least one day during the week. I also like to buy a few ingredients that will be used in various recipes to keep my cart from overflowing.
Tip #2: Buy In Bulk
Speaking of having ingredients readily available… Buying in bulk is a great way to avoid too many shopping trips, while also cutting costs on your most-used or non-perishable ingredients. Buy chicken breast and ground beef in bulk, for example, and freeze in portions. This enables you to stock more at once without having to make a separate trip to your butcher. Pasta, rice and crushed tomatoes are other items I like to have available in large quantities. A yearly membership to a bulk food store will pay for itself on your first trip to the store, in most cases.
Tip #3: Frozen Is Still Delicious!
I would argue that the freezer is your best friend in the kitchen. While free time is hard to come by, take advantage of those rare birthday party-free weekends and do some freezer cooking! What is freezer cooking? It’s applying the same principles of bulk and convenience while using your freezer as your pantry. I like to make huge batches of meatballs, my mom’s Lebanese meat turnovers, even meatloaves and stick them in the freezer for later. When you’ve got a taste for Italian, just put your frozen meatballs in a pot with your favorite marinara and viola! The freezer is also a great way to get healthy vegetables on your plate without having to frequent your local farm market. Frozen vegetables are an excellent substitute for fresh since they retain their nutrients.
Tip #4: Dust Off Those Small Appliances
If the freezer is your BFF, then the appliances I’m going to mention next are at least your BFs. The queen of all has to be the slowcooker. This little wonder probably does more than you might think. Add some recipes to your repertoire that require 5 ingredients or less. My prep time is usually 5-10 minutes so it’s easily done before work. A couple of my favorites are BBQ chicken and pot roast. Another great helper is a grill/panini maker. I use this often to make grilled chicken. Be sure to marinate some of that bulk chicken before you freeze it to make this quicker. I’ve even used my little grill for my favorite – zucchini. Delish! It’s a wonderful tool for making fancy grilled cheese on those extra late nights, with no complaints from the family.
Tip #5: Take Advantage of Convenience
There are many trends in addition to a food warehouse membership that are making grocery shopping more convenient and efficient. Major grocers are providing shopping services for a minimal fee. You shop online and the store does the legwork. All you have to do is pick it up! This has been a total game-changer for me with a newborn. Some stores even offer delivery service so you never have to leave your home. There are also several companies that have sprouted recently offering recipes and the necessary ingredients to make several meals, also delivered right to your door. These are fun alternatives that make meal time a family cooking event, while still managing to keep it quick and stress free!
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Hope you’ve enjoyed these tips for making mealtime easy, quick and delicious! Whatever your routine, incorporating some of these tricks will make dinners what they should be: a time to spend with family while nurturing body and soul. If you try any of these tips, tag #feelgoodfoodie on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter!