Summer is over and now it’s time to head back to school. With school come the associated activities before school, after school, and on the weekend. With all of the insanity, let’s talk about some time saving tips that are, pardon the pun, timely.
Utilize meal prep: With some careful planning, you can cook one day and feed the family all week. I try to find a large protein to cook on a Sunday afternoon like a couple of chickens or a large beef roast. You can have a wholesome family meal on the table to start the week and have plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week. I hear you groaning in disappointment – “but I hate leftovers!” Never fear – you can repurpose that chicken or beef into several different scrumptious options:
- Turn leftover chicken into a refreshing chicken salad
- Beef roast can be spun into a quick and hearty soup or pasta sauce
- If Asian flavors are more your style, try tossing your protein with some fresh vegetables and make a quick stir fry
Use your pantry as your friend: A well-stocked home pantry is a cook’s best friend. Some of the things I have on hand for quick meals include:
- Plenty of pasta in different shapes and sizes (cavatappi is my all-time favorite)
- Lentils – they cook up in about twenty minutes, take on any fun flavors you give them, and are super healthy
- Tomato sauce in a can (not the jarred flavored kind) – with a few cans as a base, you can quickly throw together either a chili or a spaghetti and meatballs
- White Cannellini beans – packed with tons of healthy proteins, beans are a quick meal for not much money
- Soup Stocks – having some chicken or beef stock in your pantry will help you give a quick dinner an all-day level of flavor
Put a few make-ahead things in your fridge: One of my favorite things to keep on hand is pesto. You can use it to make a quick pasta supper, spread it on sandwiches, or you can put it on a chicken breast to roast in the oven. Here’s how to make it:
- What you need: two bunches of cilantro, ¼ cup toasted walnuts, ½ cup parmigiano regiano cheese (don’t cheat, get the good stuff), olive oil, salt, and pepper
- Wash the cilantro well and pat it dry. Combine the cilantro, walnuts, and cheese in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper. While the food processor is running, drizzle in the oil until the mixture is slightly runny with oil. If you want to put some extra spice in your life, try adding a pinch of red pepper flakes to your pesto.
Crank up the crock pot: The best part of a crock pot is the ability to set it and forget it. There are a thousand and one things you can make in these handy gadgets. Try some of these recipes. If you are worried you won’t be home in enough time to turn it off, try using a delayed start timer. You can plug the crock pot into one, set the start time, and head off to work knowing you will come home to a house that smells like awesomeness and some tasty food too.