Summer is flying by! Only one more week until school starts and that means back to those crazy busy weeknights full of homework and running around to activities. I’m already tired just thinking about it! One question I get asked a lot on Instagram is how I find the time to cook dinner every night. Well, I don’t! But we try to avoid eating out as much as possible (because I hate spending that much money, and because I like knowing the ingredients my family is eating), so I rely on quick and easy ways to feed my family on those super busy nights. None of these ideas are life-shattering, but maybe you’ll see something new that can help you keep your sanity! Here a few of our favorites:
- Paninis or Sandwiches– Grilled cheese, tomato with pesto, or turkey and cheese are few of our favorite sandwiches.
- Quesadillas or Burritos- I’m convinced you can stuff pretty much anything into a tortilla with some cheese, and it will be delicious- any type of leftover meat, corn, beans..even just plain cheese! We also like BBQ quesadillas- just add a little BBQ sauce to your leftover meat, then serve it with BBQ sauce instead of salsa! *Tip-any time we have leftover meat, (even if it’s just a few spoon fulls), I put it in the freezer then pull it out when we’re having quesadillas!
- We eat some form of paninis or quesadillas at least once a week. My husband gave me a Panini Press for Christmas a few years ago and I remember thinking “what on earth am I going to do with this thing- it’s going to sit here and collect dust.” Boy was I wrong, we use it all the time and can’t imagine not having one now! I don’t even bother putting it up- it’s earned a permanent spot on the counter!
- Eggs are another thing we eat weekly! Eggs in Hole, Egg Burritos, Scrambled Eggs, Omelets- there are so many things you can make with them! If we have leftover ham or cooked veggies, I’ll add them too!
- Pick up a Rotisserie Chicken and some lettuce for a quick, simple salad.
- Put together a “snack tray” with salami, cheese, veggies, crackers, nuts, or olives.
- We love Aidells Meatballs and Chicken Sausage. Warming them up takes no time at all, and the ingredients are pretty clean!
- We love green smoothies! They’re fairly quick, and can easily be taken on-the-go if needed!
- Oatmeal– my kids are oatmeal fanatics, so sometimes I’ll just whip up some oats in the microwave, or I’ll make Steel Cut Oats in the Instant Pot, and serve it with whatever fruit we have in the fridge, or with frozen berries from the freezer.
- Speaking of the Instant Pot..have you guys heard of this thing? It’s an electric pressure cooker (kind of like a slow cooker on overdrive). I’ve had mine about 3 years and it’s been a total game changer! It’s not magic by any means, but it sure has made my life easier. Keep in mind that when a recipes says it cooks for 5 minutes, that’s not counting the time it takes to come to pressure, or to release pressure, which could add 20 minutes or more to the recipe- but that’s all hands-off time. Most of the recipes I use involve just dumping the ingredients in the pot, turning it on, and letting it do it’s thing- no standing at the stove babysitting a pot. That means while it’s cooking, I can go help the kids with homework, or start knocking other stuff off my to-do list.
- Even on weeknights where I do have time to actually cook a “real” meal, I’m often tired and don’t want to spend too long in the kitchen, so I love to use frozen chopped onions or bell peppers, and minced garlic. Now don’t get me wrong, I love using real onions and garlic, but sometimes at the end of a busy day, just the thought of cutting an onion makes me want to cry.
- Some days, we come home after school, and I’ll have just enough time to make dinner…but not enough time to eat before we have to run to our next activity. When that happens, I let the kids eat in the car. A Thermos or a bento-type lunch box is perfect for times like this!
- When I’m cooking something that can easily be doubled, I’ll double it then put half in the freezer for another night.
So tell me- what are some of your favorite ideas and tips for busy nights? I’m always looking for new ideas!