Effortless Weeknight Meals for Busy Moms with MEGA Flavor
I once a read a quote that went something like this:
“Sometimes you need dinner to be the equivalent of a screw top cap on a bottle of wine.”
The truth of this statement made me laugh. There are days where I just don’t feel like cooking dinner. While it’s okay to enjoy off days and order takeout or declare it a “eat cereal for dinner” evening, we end up paying a price for it later as the food bill racks up or we find that we’ve created kids who only eat buttered noodles, Fruity Pebbles and chicken tenders in dinosaur shapes.
With four kids at home (one eating through a small fortune of food at college), I’ve had to develop some preemptive strategies so when those “I don’t want to cook days” hit–I will have effortless weeknight meals that don’t skimp on flavor or quality.
First, be sure to have the pantry ingredients on hand. That way if you see your day taking a dive, you can pop into the grocery store to grab pork chops, rotisserie chicken, ground beef or salmon and nothing else. Or you can send Hubby or an unsuspecting teen to do it. I always send a sweet text to my daughter and offer a Chai Latté on me as a decoy.
Second, gather your ingredients and equipment in the morning. I always try to mise en place (gather everything I need to cook) while I’m putting together lunches in the morning so I don’t have to dig through the pantry or cabinets during the bewitching hour…you know which one I’m talking about.
Third, print off these recipes and keep them handy. Whether it’s a binder or your faithful junk drawer, make sure recipes are already printed and ready for you. The less you have to think, the better it is for you and everyone else in your presence. In actuality, for me, I have so many people talking to me at once that having everything at hand (including recipes) makes me a much more responsive (and not reactive) person.
Now for my 6 Favorite Recipes that I like to call “fast food” that’s not “fast-food”. In other words, they are delicious, quality meals that come together so fast that it will make you feel like you just screwed off the top of a delicious Sauvignon Blanc and that, girlfriend, is something worth smiling about.
You can have this meal served in about 15 minutes.
Short-Cut: Use Evan’s Mashed Potatoes that you can find in the Deli Section of your grocery store. They are pretty good for something you microwave in a few minutes!
This soup is a kid favorite! Buy frozen diced carrots and onions so no chopping is necessary. Be sure to shred your rotisserie chicken in the morning and store in the fridge so you don’t have to mess with it in the afternoon frenzy! You can find the gnocchi in the dry pasta section of the store.
Short-Cuts: You can whip this up in the morning and leave in the Warmer of your Slow cooker. That way you have a nice cozy meal waiting for you when you get home!
This Tex-Mex meal involves 10 minutes MAX active cooking time. Be sure to break up the tortillas in a plastic baggie in the morning.
-Add a punch of flavor to your canned black beans with a generous pinch of Latin Nights Seasoning Blend.
-I like using the 90-second Microwavable Rice pouches when I’m in a pinch!
-No limes? No problem! I always have backup lime juice that comes in a plastic squeezable bottle.
This bare-bones soup requires no chopping! The first time I made it I thought I was skipping steps but the kids loved it so much I decided to keep it simple. It tastes just like lasagna without any of the fuss. Be sure to buy some crusty bread to serve on the side for a complete meal!
Short-Cuts: Be sure ground meat is defrosted and waiting for you in fridge. If you don’t have red wine on hand, you can add a splash of red wine vinegar for a little acid.
Another Tex-Mex favorite made with Instant Rice! I love that its made in one skillet and topped with melty cheese
-Replace the poblano pepper with diced chilies you find in a small can.
-Use frozen diced onions.
-Precook and season the meat in the morning to save precious time in the busy afternoon.
Another 15-Minute recipe if you serve with Couscous as this side cooks in just 5 minutes. If you love salmon, you will feel like you are eating well-cooked salmon in a sweet little bistro.
Short-Cuts: Skip cooking the green beans and buy microwaveable green beans. You can heat up as the salmon cooks, just be sure to season with salt and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.