Food and Meal Planning
There’s no secret to getting dinner made night after night, but there are plenty of ways to make the task a lot easier and more enjoyable. In Real Simple Dinner Tonight: Done! Allie Lewis Clapp serves up 189 dishes along with helpful tips and tricks to keep the dinner inspiration coming and the family fed.
Here are some of her ideas:
No One Likes a Show-Off
Keep it simple. Skip elaborate dishes and esoteric ingredients. The ‘secret’ to a great everyday dinner is to use real, whole foods—the produce, fish, meat, spices, herbs and grains you buy already.
One For All
The best way to save time in the kitchen is to make one meal for the whole family. Certain dishes are just natural crowd-pleasers like roasted chicken or simple pasta dishes. For little ones, fun starters like grilled teriyaki wings or Mini Grilled Cheese and Chutney Sandwiches can be made into meals.
Use the freezer to your advantage. Buy certain things, like shrimp, from the freezer aisle (what you buy in the fish case has almost always been frozen, anyway, and you’ll give yourself more time to use it) or berries that aren’t in season. Peel fresh ginger and freeze it—it’s easier to grate that way and you won’t have to watch the root shrivel in your fridge.
Reduce Reuse Recycle Your Meals
To cut down on food waste, think of using your leftovers for lunch the next day. For example, seared lamb chops can be sliced and served over salad or roasted salmon flaked and folded into rice. Tonight’s tilapia can be tomorrow’s fish tacos.
Timing is Everything
When you’re hosting a dinner party you have enough to worry about. For entertaining, pick a dish that can be made ahead and served at room temperature, like Roasted Salmon and Peppers with Caper Vinaigrette, to take some of the pressure off.
Round Out Meals with Healthy Whole Grains
Barley, bulgur, quinoa, and brown rice can be used almost interchangeably, are easy to batch cook, cost very little from the bulk food aisle, and last a good while, especially when stored in the refrigerator.
The kitchen is a place to be creative, so don’t fret if you can’t put your hands on the exact ingredient you need. For example: Basil or fresh parsley can stand in for tarragon. Remember, it’s just dinner, it’s not supposed to be perfect!
What's your best kitchen secret for getting dinner ready for the family?
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