Getting a healthful, tasty, and simple dinner on the table during weeknights can take some doing. In fact, many people say that the difficulty of getting meals on the table on busy weeknights is one of their major stumbling blocks on the road to good health.
Luckily, there are a few simple things that you can do to streamline the process and make it easier to prepare weeknight meals.
Strategy #1: Tune Up Your Pantry
If you can’t find the food you’ve stocked, it won’t be useful for your weeknight dinners. Overcrowded and messy pantries can make it harder to find what you need as you set out the ingredients for a meal you’d like to cook, and they also create a vicious cycle where you can’t find an ingredient that you actually have (hidden way back in the pantry) so you buy it again and add to the clutter that blocked you from seeing the ingredient you needed in the first place.
To give your pantry a deep cleaning, work shelf-by-shelf.
Pull everything off of one shelf, dust away any trash and give the empty shelf a good scrub. Then look at everything you took off that shelf, toss anything that’s expired, and donate anything that’s not perishable but which you won’t use. Organize the rest into categories that make sense to you and put them back in the pantry. I shared some organization and display tips in this kitchen hack, but the most important thing is that you find an approach that works for you.
Repeat this process with the remaining shelves.
Strategy #2: Check Your Herbs and Spices
Have you ever cleaned out your spice rack (and the cabinets that held all the overflow) and found 5 different half-used bottles of cinnamon taking up space AND if consolidated, 2 whole jars would be gathered? Well, that is just a great chance to declutter you kitchen in a single step!
Make sure that the herbs and spices you use most regularly are easily accessible — eliminating the search for key ingredients will make weeknight cooking a little easier, and every little bit helps.
Also, herbs and spices can lose flavor over time, so check your expiration dates and give each jar a sniff to make sure that everything is still aromatic and fresh. Replace any stale spices — this will help you prepare more flavorful meals that are more likely to be accepted by your whole family, picky eaters and all. Dull spices can ruin a recipe!
Strategy #3: Stock Your Freezer
Stocked freezers make weeknight cooking a breeze!
When you make a recipe, consider doubling it and freezing the rest for another night when all that you have the energy for is removing and reheating. After a few doubled recipes, you’ll be well on your way to a stocked freezer that you can rely on in a pinch.
What favorite meals can you make ahead and freeze?
Which approach worked the best? Why?
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information is for informational purposes and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any illness. Consult a physician before taking any action.
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