10 Tips To Make Weeknight Dinners Easier

This post was sponsored by Dinner Thyme. I was given meals in exchange for an honest review of their service. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Even though I work from home part-time now weeknight meals can still be hectic and difficult for me. Meal prep time always comes up when my son is starting to wind down for the day and just wants to be loved. He often ends up clinging to my leg while I’m chopping things in the kitchen. It’s far from ideal.

 

My husband and daughter rush in through the door anywhere from 5:15 to 6 p.m. and are starving. They both want food right away and if I don’t have dinner ready to go they both start looking for snacks.

So that I can be efficient, and attempt to appease all members of the family, I’ve developed a few practices that have helped me make weeknight dinners run more smoothly and feel less stressful. These work for us now and worked for us when I was working full-time outside of our home. I hope they work for you too!

Meal plan ahead of time and communicate it.

Before I go grocery shopping I always write out, on paper what our meals will be for the week. This helps me stay organized and focused when shopping and also helps me to see my dinner “plan” for the week. Once I have my plan in place, I share it with my husband and we write it on a chalk board we have in the hallway. When I was working he would often get home before me and have to start dinner prep, but since I am the one to grocery shop he often wouldn’t know what dinner was actually supposed to be. This remedied the situation for us and has actually helped me to feel like we are more of a team.




Meal prep on Sunday.

I’m going to be honest. I am bad at this. I know it’s all the rage right now but I’m just not good at being that organized when it comes to prepping entire meals. However, I have taken some positive, baby steps here. For items like veggies and lettuce, I chop them after I go grocery shopping and store them in the fridge for the weeknight meals. This especially helps us to eat more salads throughout the week and can take some of the prep time out of preparing weeknight meals.

Make Weeknight Meals Easier - The Everyday Mom Life

Buy frozen veggies or pre-washed and bagged.

I know that everyone wants fresh nowadays, and believe me I try to eat it as much as possible too, but frozen can work really well during the week. I also really love the pre-washed, pre-cut veggies that steam in a bag. These are a staple in our house during the week. When you want to make sure you get in your greens, I love these two ways I can get our veggies in without all the washing and chopping time involved.

Use a food delivery service to supplement a few nights.

We’ve tried a few meals delivery services in the past and most recently we partnered with Dinner Thyme to try their service. We really enjoyed that the recipes were things our daughter would eat and that the vegetables were pre-cut so we didn’t waste our time doing that when there is sometimes just an hour and a half between the time everyone gets home and the time the kids go to bed. I also loved how they lettered their bags for each meal so we were able to easily tell which ingredients we needed that night.

Hey Mom, you'll enjoy these too!

One sheet or one pot.

I feel like I’ve recently re-discoverer my love for sheet pan meals and have started using these at least once week. A lot of these meals are often meals you can make in 30 minutes or less and are chocked full of vegetables and good proteins. The added bonus they provide is that there isn’t a lot of clean up afterwards. You are about to see more of these on the blog soon. One pot meals also have a similar benefit.

Make Weeknight Meals Easier - The Everyday Mom Life




Make pressure cooker cooking an option.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, consider it. I received this one two Christmases ago and love it for making meals in a timely manner. It can cook frozen chicken in 20 minutes and give you anything from desserts to sides to main dish meals. You have to allow time for the pot to come to pressure so I don’t recommend using it to make things with a lot of liquid during the week. Soup is a good example of something that will take a long time to come to pressure.

Fall in love with crock pot cooking.

My crock pot is my weeknight dinner time BFF. Even now with me being home I still rely on it for its ease of use and convenience. It’s perfect to set in the morning and forget about again until dinner time.

Plan for leftovers and re-purpose them.

I recently started making a meal a week that we can use as leftovers. It is usually a crock pot meal and then I re-purpose the meat. For instance, I used my Peanut Chicken Crock Pot Recipe on Night 1 and served it over cauliflower rice. On Night 2, I made Thai Peanut Chicken Flatbread. I really love doing this and you are going to start seeing more of these paired meals on the blog soon.

Make Weeknight Meals Easier - The Everyday Mom Life

Thai Peanut Chicken Flatbread

Use raw foods to round out meals.

If you feel like you are missing out on some vegetables or a serving of fruit, slice some up and put it on the table. This will save you any cook time and I find that usually when vegetables are available, my husband and daughter will eat more of them. I love to do this with carrots, peppers, tomatoes and fruits.

Be realistic about what you can cook in the amount of time you have.

This might actually be the most important tip. When you are planning for weeknight meals it is imperative that you are realistic. You cannot make a meal that takes an hour to cook after work when you have bedtimes to attend to. I am sometimes bad about this because I get wrapped up in a love of creating with food and then before I know it its 6:15 p.m. This is my family’s must-eat-or-will-rage time. Instead of getting to this point I’ve focused on using all the tips above to keep meal-making at a half hour or less so we can be done with dinner and unwinding no later than 6:30.

How do you handle weeknight dinners? Any other tips to share?


About the Author

Everyday Mom Rachel
Author with 141 posts
More about Everyday Mom Rachel

Recent Articles

28 Comments

  • Janel Berchielli (@JanelB) April 17, 2017 06.03 pm

    I am all about saving time cooking dinner. I actually am new to the Instant pot family and quickly fell in love with the time I save using it.

    Reply 
  • Ana De-Jesus April 17, 2017 06.31 pm

    Don’t worry I am not organzed either but I like the sound of embracing crock pot cooking that sounds great. I need to prep meals more often x

    Reply 
  • Robin Rue April 17, 2017 07.10 pm

    I am ALL FOR anything to make my life a little easier. Especially on those busy weeknights.

    Reply 
  • thecoffeemom0617 April 17, 2017 07.12 pm

    These are all awesome tips! Meal planning and prepping has been such a huge help when it comes to simplifying weeknight dinners!

    Reply 
  • Amber Nelson April 17, 2017 09.02 pm

    I need to start the whole meal prepping and planning thing, but it has been a challenge!

    Reply 
  • workoutwithdi April 17, 2017 10.59 pm

    I second the pressure cooker and crock pot suggestions. Seriously the pressure cooker has saved me on so many occasions!

    Reply 
  • Everyday Made Fresh April 17, 2017 11.48 pm

    These are all great tips! I do a lot of one pan meals during the week on nights I know we are extra busy, like the two nights a week my daughter has dance.

    Reply 
  • Karen April 17, 2017 11.59 pm

    I have teetered with using a food delivery service, but not confident about the quality. However, I do meal plan on Sundays (on the regular) and shop those days so I have all meals ready in the fridge for the week. A lifesaver!

    Reply 
  • Kristina April 18, 2017 12.52 am

    Week nights can be a very busy time and quick and easy meals are definitely helpful and convenient. Especially when they are filling and simple!

    Reply 
  • Jeanine April 18, 2017 12.54 am

    Very good tips to help make dinnertime stress free. That’s the last thing you need on a busy weeknight is stress trying to figure out a good meal for the family.

    Reply 
  • Brenda | BrendaHaire.com April 18, 2017 02.16 am

    Great tips! The crock pot is my favorite! I love it because I can fix it and forget about it. It also doesn’t get the house hot like oven cooking seems to and is easier clean up with just one pot. I tried the instapot thing and I couldn’t figure it out.

    Reply 
  • Angela Ricardo Bethea April 18, 2017 07.35 am

    I am currently on my 12 weeks of pregnancy so my morning sickness is really terrible. These are really awesome tips to save time and effort for cooking. Thanks for this helpful suggestions!

    Reply 
  • Amanda Love April 18, 2017 09.19 am

    These are all awesome ideas. I love making dinner prep easier. I usually do meal planning for the week so that I don’t have to worry about dinner.

    Reply 
  • reesann723 April 18, 2017 01.43 pm

    We are getting into busy season around here where it seems we are somewhere different every night of the week! I need to use these ideas because otherwise dinner is never getting done!

    Reply 
  • cvnxena April 18, 2017 02.57 pm

    some fab tips, especially for those of us who are busy mid week! We definitely make use of meal prep sundays in this house!

    Reply 
  • Prime Beauty Blog (@PrimeBeauty50) April 18, 2017 04.57 pm

    Thanks for sharing these really helpful tips. I find meal planning really does help me think about what I want to eat each week. This is also a great reminder to give a meal delivery service a try again. They are so much fun.

    Reply 
  • kchiavarone April 18, 2017 05.29 pm

    Great ideas! It’s all about the prep for me to get through the week, a mid week grocery delivery would be really helpful too!

    Reply 
  • Lydia April 18, 2017 07.22 pm

    These ideas were so great! Meal prep is what it’s allll about

    Reply 
  • Rose Sahetapy April 18, 2017 09.33 pm

    I do agree that a good meal preparation helps to organise a family meal during the weeknights. I think I could adopt the tips to organize my family meal. Thanks for sharing these tips.

    Reply 
  • toughcookiemommy April 18, 2017 11.08 pm

    I think meal planning is amazing and it definitely makes dinners easier to plan and prepare for. It is something that I have to get much better at doing.

    Reply 
  • angelalambert7 April 19, 2017 03.24 am

    These all look so delicious!!! I’ll have to look into this!!
    Angela

    Reply 
  • Kim April 19, 2017 01.22 pm

    We are so busy in the weeks. I love an easy dinner that my Husband thinks took forever. This would be an easy idea to add!

    Reply 
  • Heather April 19, 2017 05.14 pm

    I love the meal prep on Sunday. I try to do that, and my weeks are always so much smoother when I actually do that prep!

    Reply 
  • Krystle Cook April 19, 2017 06.39 pm

    Weeknights can seriously be hectic. These are some great ideas to make it easier.

    Reply 
  • Dawn McAlexander April 19, 2017 06.41 pm

    These are all great tips and I think we utilize just about all of them. Except for cooking once a week or once a month, which I really want to do but my husband is not on board with it, we do about everything on your list to make our meals easier.

    Reply 
  • Toni Williams April 20, 2017 01.14 am

    I agree with all of your tips. My favorite is planning for the leftovers and repurposing them!

    Reply 
  • Kristin April 21, 2017 01.34 am

    Great tips! I so need to do more prep on Sundays, it always helps so much!

    Reply 
  • Larissa April 21, 2017 10.45 pm

    Love these tips so much!!

    Reply 

Leave a Reply

Subscribe & Follow

Featured On

Instagram

Tweets

Badges