Easy Weeknight Dinners That Are Perfect for the Family
Did you know the average American spends $1,400 annually on fast food? If you are married with two kids, that adds up to over $5K a year! We all know fast food isn’t good for us, but there are times when the convenience of a quick burger or bucket of chicken outweighs the desire to eat well. Instead of hitting the drive-thru, keep these easy weeknight dinners ideas in mind!
Prep Your Ingredients Weekly or Bi-Weekly
After a long day at the office, chopping vegetables and slaving over a hot stove is probably the last thing you want to do. So don’t!
Pick a time each week to get all of the prep work out of the way. Peeling, chopping, and pre-portioning the ingredients for your family’s favorite meals makes mealtime quick and easy.
Buying in bulk is a great way to save money. A lot of times you can purchase meat when it goes on sale, cook it right away, and freeze it in portionable containers.
Check out how to make these freezer-friendly bean and cheese burritos.
Invest in Your Spice Library
Having premade Cajun, Mexican or Curry seasoning at your fingertips allows you to create a menu at a moment’s notice! Season a pound of chicken separately as each dinner guest prefers, served with a salad or on a bed of jasmine rice. You can’t go wrong!
Slow Cooker Paradise
Soups, stews, and casseroles can be very nutritious, but it’s hard to get them on the table in 30 minutes or less. That is, unless you put your slow cooker work! A few minutes in the morning is all it takes to have a delicious meal ready and waiting when everyone gets home.
Consider making some ready to go slow cooker freezer meals ahead of time.
Don’t fancy a heavy, rich stew? Use your slow cooker to create tender pulled pork, chicken, ratatouille with garden-fresh vegetables.
This handy appliance can do more than you may think!
Your Oven as a Fire Pit
When you get home at night, pre-heat your oven, dump some frozen veggies on a cooking sheet, drizzle it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Once the oven is pre-heated (or even before) slide in the sheet of veggies and set the timer. Now head off and change into your evening clothes, check your Facebook, enjoy an evening libation or all three at once!
Next start prepping your protein. Maybe throw some chicken, fish or beef in a pan or on the grill with seasoning and oil to cook through.
Keeping with the firepit theme, you don’t even need to use the grill or stove. You could toss some pre-cooked brats on the pan to warm up with the veggies. Let the oven do the work while you enjoy the evening.
When the veggies and meat are near done, place a loaf of bread or some rolls in the oven to warm up (wrap with tin-foil to keep them soft).
Efficiency being stated, make sure to keep an eye on your meal as it heats up. Over time you will get a good idea of how long each item needs to cook at a given temperature, once you master the art of cooking with one heat source, you can time everything to come out at the same time!
Always stick to food safety guidelines when cooking with meat.
Simmer Sauces Are Your New BFF
Why spend your hard-earned money on takeout Chinese, Thai, or Indian food when you can have those delectable flavors at home? The key is having a pantry stocked with a variety simmer sauces, jarred curry paste, and other easy shortcuts.
In the time it takes to cook up some rice or noodles, you can sauté shrimp and vegetables. Heat it all together with the sauce and you have an amazing meal. The bonus is you have a good idea of what’s in it. If those are veggies already prepped — this meal is even easier!
While jarred sauces can be pricey, the meals that feature them are still much less money than what you’d spend on delivery or at a restaurant.
Feeling extra ambitious? Make your own simmer sauces and freeze them!
Pasta, Pasta, Pasta!
You can’t deny the ease of boiling a pot of water and throwing in some pasta. From simple spaghetti and marinara to cheese/meat filled tortellini, there are some delicious and easy pasta options that can make dinnertime a delight every night.
It’s easy to grill up some chicken, beef or sausage for the sauce or to be served on the side. Veggies can be sauteed in Olive oil, or baked in the oven as we discussed before. Pre-made salad bags ae a quick option as well.
Don’t forget the cheese! Click for a list of amazing Italian cheeses for your easy weeknight dinners.
Final Thoughts on Easy Weeknight Dinners
Easy weeknight dinners are in reach! That you can save money over time is a serious bonus.
At Tacoma Boys or H&L Produce we have a great selection of sauces, spices, meats and pre-made dinners waiting for you to take home to enjoy on your own, with friends, or family.
Stop in to one of our Tacoma, Puyallup or Lakewood locations and explore our curated selection of premium meats, seafood, vegetables, and other gourmet items. We are sure you’ll find something delicious!