Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What-to-Know Wednesday : A Guide to Quick & Easy Weeknight Dinners Off the Meal Plan

Amidst the class work and activities of school nights, the prospect of making dinner can often be a daunting one to students off the meal plan. However, I usually find that making dinner can be a great way to unwind, relax and take a break at the end of the day! And the good news is, with planning and preparing, a good meal doesn't need to be a lengthy (or pricey) project!

Below are a few of the strategies I have adopted into a routine for quick and easy weeknight dinners. Whether you're currently cooking for yourself at school or will be someday, I hope you'll try out some of these tips and find them useful in your weekly routines!

1.) Pick a main ingredient to buy in bulk.

I go grocery shopping once a week, usually on Friday afternoons. But before I do that, I like to decide on one main ingredient to build all my meals for the upcoming week around (like chicken, for example), and buy enough of that item to last the whole week. Not only does this limit the amount of ingredients you'll need to buy for each meal, but it also makes planning your meals for the week a much easier task.

2.) Plan your weeknight meals ahead of time.

From there I can plan dinner for each night of the upcoming week, also before this weekly shopping trip. For example, here's this week's plan for me:

"Main ingredient" for the week: Chicken

Sunday: Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza (easier than it sounds with pre-made pizza dough on hand!)
Monday: Chicken Scampi
Tuesday: Chicken fajitas
Wednesday: Salad and rice/quinoa with chicken
Thursday: Mac & Cheese plus any leftover chicken

3.) Shop consciously.

By having a plan and a list of groceries before your shopping trip, you'll avoid buying extra items that end up sitting in your fridge unused, taking up space.

Having a plan will also save you money in that regard. However, it's still important to be mindful of the price tag across different brands, stores, etc.

4.) Prep different items. 

As I also mentioned in my post on navigating a shared kitchen, I like to prep different items ahead of time, usually on Sunday's or whenever I can before the week picks up: chopping all my vegetables and storing in individual bags, making a large batch of salad dressing for the week to keep in the fridge, etc. I highly recommend this to save time each night when making dinner.

Happy cooking, and be sure to stay tuned for the next Sum-It-Up Sunday on the 25th!

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Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

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