Sometimes it's hard to get a great meal on the table, especially in the middle of a hectic week. During the weekend, we seem to have plenty of time to prepare a delicious meal for the family, but who feels like taking an hour to make a healthy meal after everyone is tired from work and school?
Try these easy weekday dinner ideas and make those midweek meals pop without taking extra time to prepare them.
Preparing your weekday meals doesn't have to be stressful or time consuming.
Add Fresh Vegetables and Fruits Add simple sides of fresh veggies and fruit to your meals whenever possible for easy weekday meals. Even if you make something in the oven for dinner, add a side of fresh vegetables — no cooking needed! Try sliced bell peppers, carrots and celery with hummus. If you have the veggies ready before the main course, consider letting your family eat them as an appetizer. You'll feel good about serving fresh produce, and your family will be more likely to eat it at the beginning of a meal when they're really hungry. Plus, gathering together over veggies and dip may give your family a few extra precious moments of time together. For a sensible weekday dessert, serve a fruit platter with a nice selection of in-season fruits. If you don't have time to prepare multiple fruits, something as simple as sliced apples with yogurt dip or caramel also does the trick. Adding in-season, fresh produce will give the meal a little something extra.
Tweak Your Recipes Don't make something that's completely different than what your family is used to — instead, mix up old favorites or combine flavors they like to create something new. For instance, if your family enjoys pulled pork and chili, try putting them together. Also try adding fresh herbs to your meal. Don't go overboard if it's the first time your family is trying a new flavor. Gradually add a new ingredient until your family is used to it.
Get Fancy, Really Fast! Little extras can make meals memorable, even on a weekday. Simple touches like creating a fun drink to go with your meal is fast and easy. Depending on how much time you have, try anything from a special frozen drink, a fun-flavored lemonade, chocolate shakes or water with fruit garnish. Keep inexpensive drink umbrellas in your stash of paper goods to dress up your drinks on a whim.
You can keep weekday meals interesting with other small changes, like lighting candles at the table or laying out a picnic blanket in the backyard and having your dinner there. These ideas take almost no time or effort to prepare, but they will make your meal completely different than the norm.
Keep It Easy Remember, easy weekday dinners are essential. No one wants to come home from a long day at work to prepare a difficult meal. If you plan ahead and cook smart, you'll still have energy to make your meals more fun and exciting. Use these simple tips to lighten the load in the evenings.
- Take advantage of your crockpot. Just a few minutes of planning ahead can make your evenings so much easier. It takes only a few minutes to put ingredients together in the morning, and by the time you get home, a meal will be hot and ready for you! Try this slow cooker spaghetti and meatball dish.
- Prepare your food ahead of time. If you have time on the weekends, cooking ahead is always an option. You can create an entire week's worth of meals in no time flat. Another option is to prepare meals and freeze them until you're ready to use them.
- Keep it simple. There's no need for a five-course dinner when everyone is tired and just needs to be nourished. When planning your meals for the week, stick to simple, trusted recipes that can be prepared in a short amount of time and leave the more complicated dishes for the weekend.
Preparing your weekday meals doesn't have to be stressful or time consuming. You can create delicious, fun and easy weekday dinners in a short amount of time. Your family will love them, and they will enjoy the unexpected excitement in their normal meal routine.