How to: Get dinner made faster
Everything happens between 6 and 8p.m. I repeat, everything. Sporting events, church functions, calving troubles, evening chores, and more. During different seasons on the ranch, there is a significantly different pace. I am writing to you from the busiest season, feeding cattle and calving during the shortest days of the year. I know you can relate to these seasons well. By the time you get around to cooking dinner, everyone is hungry, there is probably a child hanging from your leg, and your energy level hits a wall. It can be a recipe for disaster. If you are nodding your head right now because you literally feel this, check out these four simple and practical tips that’ll make quick dinners the norm.
Low Effort, Big Impact
I promise, what I am about to tell you isn’t rocket science. There are occasions when I read a blog post or an email that shares a tip that is extremely simple, and it is something I can apply right then. I appreciate the reminder that the writer just gave me. My goal is that you find at least one thing that doesn’t take much effort to apply, yet it has a big impact.
1. A Well Stocked Pantry
Make sure your pantry and fridge are well stocked. There is nothing worse than actually having a meal plan for once, but when you go to reach for an ingredient it’s not there. Improvising takes time and brain power, neither of which you have at this point. This isn’t something you master over night though. I think it took me a solid couple of years to know exactly what I use and need in each season.
2. Cut Out Some Prep Time
Are you able to cut out some prep time by purchasing prepped ingredients? One time I shared an Egg Roll in a Bowl recipe with a friend. This is still a brainless crowd pleaser in this household by the way. Hallelujah! When I checked back in with her to see how she liked it, she shared that she used a bag of coleslaw mix. A literal genius move. The thought never even crossed my mind. She just wiped out all of the prep of cutting up a head of cabbage and shredding carrot. To some people they may think, what’s the big deal? Well, when dinner time rolls around with a two and five year old it feels like you’ve got one hand tied behind your back with a 35 lb. weight around your right ankle. If you can ditch some prep work, for the love of quick dinners, do it. What are you prepping right now that you could easily purchase pre-diced or cut?
3. The Lazy Genius Way
What can you prep ahead to make life easier later? Kendra Adachi who wrote The Lazy Genius Way and The Lazy Genius Kitchen refers to this as the magic question. What can you do in the morning before the kids wake up to make the evening go smoother? Maybe if you buy beef direct it’s getting the dang meat out of the freezer. If you are slow at dicing and mincing all of the things like I am, prep enough for all week and pop it in the fridge. Quick dinners all week, my friend. I am here for it. Maybe you are going to eat more than one meal with rice, quinoa, or pasta this week, you could make one large batch. Did I mention this saves dishes too? We are really knocking this whole dinner thing out of the park. The things that you could do right this second to make later way mo’ betta are simple things, but they are game changers.
- Set out the pans you will be using
- Empty the dishwasher
- Pre-measure out dry ingredients and/or spices
Simple stuff, but once you try it you’ll be addicted to this magic little question. What can I do right now that will make later much more enjoyable?
4. Quick Dinners Come From Tried & True Recipes
Decide that no new recipes will be attempted on weeknights. You may disagree with me here, and I am okay with that. I have never met a new recipe that takes as long as the estimated “total time” states. Again, I may be the world’s slowest prep cook, but I figured my two kids handicap nearly doubles the time. Save yourself the headache, don’t whip out new dinner recipes on weeknights. Weekends are a much more fitting time for an experiment in the kitchen. Maybe you decide that every Saturday you are going to try a new recipe. If it is a success you can put it in the dinner line up for a future weeknight.
Dinner Is Ready
I hope you didn’t think I was going to tell you to pick up delivery or throw in the towel and head to the nearest restaurant. That’s not me. There are seasons and nights that are meant for that. All in all though, I think our world needs a lot more sit down meals around a dinner table. A time of listening and laughter. It is no easy feat, getting quick dinners on the table, but I know you. You value sitting down with your family and you are as gritty as they come. You’ve got this.