Thanks for tuning in today! You return home from a long work day, hungry and exhausted. With no time to prepare a meal, you pull a store-bought packaged meal from the freezer or order take-out – again. Simple planning and efficient cooking can free you from the “no time to cook” slump and start you on an easy routine of serving delicious, nutritious home-cooked meals on weeknights. Listen to Chef Marshall and Jason talk about easy evening meals. The links to the recipes are in the “Your Friend, the Freezer” section of the article below.

Make a Plan

Planning ahead is integral to getting meals on the table quickly. Sit down over the weekend and plan out your meals for the coming week. It helps to stick to a consistent outline, like Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Fish Wednesdays, and so on. Collect quick and easy recipes that fit these themes and rotate through them, taking into consideration ingredients you have on hand and how much time you have each day to prepare dinner. With this method, you avoid the rut of eating the same dishes every week, but don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you make a new plan.

Prep Ahead of Time

Many delicious, seemingly complicated meals come together quickly when the ingredients are already prepped. Devote time over the weekend to chopping vegetables and precooking grains and beans you’ll need for the coming week’s menu. Veggies such as onions, peppers and broccoli keep well in the refrigerator. Freeze pre-cooked ingredients, such as rice or quinoa, in pre-portioned bags for your meals.

Keep Greens On Hand

Store a tub of pre-washed and prepped greens in your refrigerator so you always have a quick salad ready to serve as a side dish. Or heat a quick protein, like chicken from a previous night’s meal, throw it atop the greens, and you have the basis for a nourishing meal.

Your Friend, the Freezer

The easiest way to get a quick, nourishing meal on the table is to cook in bulk and freeze meal-sized portions for later. Place frozen items in the refrigerator the night before you intend to eat them so they thaw properly before cooking. In the evening, when your family – including you – is tired and famished, all you need to do is reheat and serve. Meats, soups, stews and slow cooker meals work particularly well for this purpose. One easy recipe to try is our Slow Cooker Beef with Vegetables. You can make this on the weekend and freeze it. It will be ready to pull out and use in tacos or in pita sandwiches for dinner and for lunches the next day. Or try our Chicken with Italian Sauce. The sauce is very versatile and can be used with pasta or fish.

Weeknight Home-Cooked Meals – Yes, You Can!

You may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of getting a home-cooked meal on the table when you are in the thick of the back-to-school schedule. But with prior planning, preparation and a freezer packed full of wholesome meals, you can remove the stress from dinnertime and quickly sit down to delicious, nourishing family dinners daily.