If you’re staring at an empty fridge again and reaching for the take-out menus, use these insider tips to make weeknight home cooking your default mode.
1. Avoid the Monday to Friday dinnertime scramble
If you’ve about had it with getting creative about making dinner during the hectic work week, school week, life week, we completely get it. There’s something about ending a long day and then facing the fridge that makes so many of us instantly reach for our phones to order from GrubHub instead. It’s true that there are many challenges to trying to cook a home-cooked meal after a long day. First off, the minute you step in the door, everyone seems to want your attention—the kids, your spouse, the dog, so focusing on organizing a meal from the fridge can be frustrating. Second, you need ingredients in the fridge and some sort of plan in place to cook them. No plan often means a pot of pasta or a dinner of scrambled eggs and toast, so thinking ahead is a must for anything more substantial.
2. Keep a well-stocked kitchen
Always have go-to pantry and freezer staples (like whole grain pasta, brown rice, low-sodium canned beans, frozen fruits, and vegetables) on hand and you’ll find it much easier to throw together a balanced meal without spending hours prepping. The same goes for your spice cabinet. Maximize flavor in your spice cabinet by stocking spice blends your family loves, like a taco seasoning blend, Italian seasoning for pasta night, or herbes blend that can be used on potatoes, chicken, or fish.
4. Plan, plan, plan
Six o’clock at night on a weekday is not the time to have zero idea of what you’re going to make for dinner. Sunday night is when I plan my weekly dinner menu. I mark what we’re eating every night on our kitchen door so I remember whether I need to thaw something overnight. This also eliminates mid-week trips to the store. As a working parent, we have to be organized.
5. Cook once, eat all week
Devote a few hours to cooking big batches of grains and/or cook your proteins to mix and match throughout the week while you have a calm few hours on Sunday, suggests Diana Mitrea, a certified personal trainer in New York City. “Things like quinoa, farrow, and rice can last for three-plus days.” Beans are another item to cook in bulk, suggests Ellen King, head baker and co-owner of Hewn, a bakery in Evanston, Illinois. “I ladle out cooked beans into one-cup portions and freeze them,” says this mom. “This way I can pull a bag from the freezer and use it in tacos, beans and rice, on top of a salad, or as a spread.”
6. Make friends with the freezer
Your freezer is you're best friend when it comes to meal planning and always having ready to go food. That is why Five Star Home Foods provides easy-to-prepare, individually packaged selection of frozen foods which takes
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