Seven Tips for Fast Weeknight Dinners

Monday, September 14, 2020

If you work long hours and don’t have much of your evening to yourself, dinner time can sometimes feel like rush hour. Whether you feel like there’s nothing in the fridge, or just can’t face cooking, here are some tips to make weeknight dinner faster and easier. Get something tasty on the table without the stress.

Plan ahead. Do you have more time to cook at the weekend? Use this time to make dishes that can be used in multiple recipes, like a big cut of meat, a base sauce, or a small element like caramelized onions that can be used in a few different ways throughout the week. If your weekend is just as busy, take twenty minutes to inventory your fridge and plan out your meals for the week. Use this to spot which small steps you can do ahead of time, like making a marinade the night before, or prepping a few days worth of salad greens at once.

Think thin and small. You can’t roast a whole chicken in twenty minutes. You can saute a chicken cutlet, grill small chunks of chicken, or prep a chicken sheet pan dinner though. Save thicker cuts for when you have more time.

Embrace the leftover. Leftovers often get overlooked, especially if they’re just reheated in the microwave. However, you can morph your leftovers into another dish and keep things more interesting. Swap boring soups and salads for ragus, hashes, and savory tarts. Keep the seasoning on your main meal quite neutral so it is more versatile for leftovers.

Make clean-up easy with an all-in-one. As well as knocking time off your cooking time, speed up the clean up too. Whole-meal recipes that cook all in one pot or on one baking sheet will save you lots of time in both preparation time and cleaning time after you’ve eaten.

Make breakfast for dinner. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and don’t need very long to cook. They’re ideal for a quick meal. Make sure you have plenty of eggs in, and they’re perfect for nights when you come home late and have no time to cook. Make frittatas, omelets, or scrambles.

Buy a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers have improved a lot in recent years and are now the best friend of the time-pressed cook. These pots trap in steam and build pressure, creating higher cooking temperatures and reducing cooking time. Almost any recipe that’s based on moist heat, like a braise or soup, can be cooked in the pressure cooker.

Use what you have. Nothing spoils a quick meal like having to make a late-night dash to the grocery store. Use what you have. Planned to make a cannellini and kale soup, but found you’ve forgotten to buy kale? Swap it for swiss chard instead, if you have that in the fridge. The more you cook, the more familiar you’ll get with suitable swaps and how to prepare things with what you have in that needs eating.

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