I get asked the questions like these below all the time. I thought it would be helpful to give my answers and best advice! Hope you agree!
1. The school year is so crazy! What is the best way to prepare for weeknight dinners?
Forethought and good organization win the day every time. If you have two or three meals planned ahead, you are ahead of the game. This means planning and shopping, but take my word for it. It works.
When you have a plan and the the right ingredients on hand, cooking isn’t frustrating. And your stress levels will lower quickly and happily. Plus, you’ll feel so good because your kids are getting a good, home-cooked meal.
2. Sometimes I can’t get to the store. What should I have on hand at all times?
Here’s what I keep on hand:
- cans of whole tomatoes and jars of marinara sauce
- cans of beans (black beans, kidney beans, etc.)
- soy sauce and hoisin sauce
- good olive oils and vinegars
- quality chicken stock
- washed salad greens in plastic bags
- pasta, quinoa, couscous, and brown rice
- onions and garlic
I also like to have:
- extra olives for salads
- pre-cut butternut squash
- crumbled feta, goat, and blue cheese
- jars of roasted red peppers
3. Do you have any ideas for breakfast other than cold cereal with fruit?
Breakfast is an important meal but let’s face it: We usually rush through it, which explains why cold cereal is so popular. When you have a little time in the morning (or if you want to get up a little earlier than usual and give your kids a treat), try homemade granola, buttermilk pancakes, or poached eggs on top of sweet potato hash.
Make your own granola and keep good fruit yogurt on hand. Fresh berries, bananas and whole oranges are great to have for breakfast, too.
My kids like breakfast for dinner, and so every so often I produce pancakes or a frittata for the evening meal and everyone is thrilled.
4. What are your best time-saving tips for weeknight cooking?
I’m a big believer in making more than you need for a particular dinner, and then “re-purposing” the extra.
- Cook more brown rice than needed and refrigerate the excess for quick fried rice or burritos.
- Freeze pancakes and waffles, stacked and wrapped in plastic. This makes breakfast easy.
- Roast or grill extra veggies for omelets, scrambled eggs, sandwiches, and salads.
- Form hamburger meat into patties, wrap them individually, and freeze. Instant burgers!
- Double recipes for soup and freeze the extra (soups with cream don’t freeze well).
- Blanch and shock (dunk in ice cold water) green veggies early in the day. Refrigerate them and use them in the evening for stir fries, pasta, and rice dishes.
You get the idea!