10 Tips to Help Take the Stress Out of Weeknight Dinners

The secret? Plan in advance. Mairlyn Smith shares 10 important tips.

  1. Make a family cookbook
    Get a binder and fill it with recipes that are your go-tos. Ask your family to contribute their favourite recipes, as well. You can get new ideas by researching through your favourite cookbooks, websites, and magazines. A great idea is to get your kids involved in the planning and the cooking at an early age. Cooking is a life skill, and teaches them additional lessons like math, science and motor skills. As your kids get older, let them choose a night that they make dinner.
  2. Write it down in a calendar
    Plan your weeknight meals around your family’s activities: hockey, soccer, lessons, meetings.
  3. Theme nights!
    Taco Tuesday, Soup Saturdays, Pasta Thursdays, plan a theme night and a menu will just happen.
  4. Plan your plate  
    When planning your menus think about your plate having 4 sections: one for protein, one for a complex carb and two for vegetables and fruits.
  5. Eat local + seasonal
    You will save money at the grocery store by eating seasonally. Enjoy fresh local blueberries in August and September, but not in January. Switch to frozen vegetables in the off-season. Enjoy using slow cookers or instant pots in the fall.
  6. Lists 
    Keep on ongoing grocery list on your fridge, when you run out of a staple write it down.
  7. Don’t over buy
    Once you have your menus, themes, and activities organized, plan out your grocery list. I write my list based on what’s on sale in the flyers. Shop our pantry first and freezer first to make sure you aren’t over buying. Planning is the #1 way to save money in the kitchen. Reduces waste, saves time in the long run and the chances of you ordering in dwindles.
  8. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry 
    You will end up making buying stuff you don’t need. Shop on the day it fits your schedule, remember weekends are busy…..although 9 am on a Saturday isn’t quite as busy as later in the afternoon.
  9. Protein prep
    Buy extra-lean protein and cook it when you get home from the grocery store. Taco Tuesdays just got easier because you have the protein already cooked. Cooked complex carbohydrates like barley, rice and wheat berries ahead of time. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  10. Chop 
    Chop veggies and wash and spin lettuce when you get home. I cut up cauliflower and broccoli into florets and store them in the fridge. That pre-prep makes week night dinner easier to assemble.

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