Weeknight Meals Made Easy (VIDEO) June 22, 2016

by Tips & Tricks

Picture this: 6pm rolls around, and dinnertime is looming. The kids start getting hungry, interrogating you over what’s for dinner and when it will magically appear in front of them. Meanwhile, your to-do list is a mile long, you’re exhausted after a long day, and you have absolutely no idea what last-minute weeknight meals to make before their appetites get the best of them and they begin foraging through the snack drawer. Sound familiar? Join the club.

easy-weeknight meals-HelloFresh

It’s no secret that eating dinner as a family has its benefits, from helping model proper manners to fostering feelings of belonging. However, this idealized image of family bonding often turns into dreaded hours of stress and grumbling tummies (hangry, anyone?) But before reaching for that take-out menu, listen up. We’re dishing out five easy steps to simplify weeknight meals.  

1. Plan your meals

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Deciding what to cook is more than half the battle. But by taking a few minutes on Sunday to plan your weeknight meals and create a comprehensive grocery list, you won’t find yourself frantically rummaging through the refrigerator or taking last-minute trips to the grocery store. Plus, you’ll avoid buying more food than you need and save lots of money in the process!

Some things to think about when meal-planning:

  • Balance is key, so incorporate a protein, vegetable, and whole grain into every meal. (Shout-out to our awesome dietitian, Rebecca, for teaching us that!)
  • Themed dinners are your friend. After all, who in their right mind would ever say no to this chipotle black bean dish on taco night? Not me.

2. Prep weeknight meals in advance

When it comes to starches and grains, think ahead. Foods like rice and potatoes can easily be prepped the night before so all you have to do when dinnertime rolls around is season and reheat them. The same goes for vegetables. Although chopping and dicing can be time-consuming, doing it advance and storing the food in plastic bags will make your life a zillion times easier.

3. Make dinnertime a family affair

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Gather the troops on Sunday to get input for the week’s meal prep, bring them to the grocery store, and make room in the kitchen for your little helpers to wash the peppers or sprinkle cheese over the tacos. It’s the perfect way to get those picky eaters excited about what’s cooking, get dinner on the table fast, and create lasting memories in the process.

For more ideas, check out these 8 Hacks to Get Kids to Eat Healthy.

4. Take shortcuts

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Here at HelloFresh, we’ve never met a kitchen shortcut we didn’t like. Scratch that – LOVE. Here are some of our faves:

  • Use a scrap bowl for a waaaaay easier clean-up. If you’re feeling especially efficient, you can even line it with a plastic bag.
  • Whip up one-pot meals like chicken soup or Mexican quinoa.
  • Skip the peeling to save time and increase the amount of insoluble fiber, flavor, and texture of the dish.

5. Save leftovers

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Even the most seasoned meal-planners (pun absolutely intended) get caught in the trap of buying more than they can eat. When this happens, designate one night a week as a “clean-out-the-refrigerator” night. With a few added ingredients, you can transform leftover meat, fish, or vegetables into flavorful and easy meals. Our favorites? Hearty stews, loaded salads, and protein-packed smoothies.

Also, don’t be afraid to toss food in the freezer and defrost when ready to use it. Foods that freeze well include potatoes, squash, fruit, bread, and meat.

Happy Cooking!

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