Saturday, November 12, 2016

Weeknight Dinners in 15 Minutes or Less

Recently some friends and I were having a discussion about struggles, and I definitely had plenty of my own to share, but one thing that came up was about meal planning and knowing what to make for dinner every night. I have to admit that I feel like I'm always a bit behind in life, and usually can't totally get my act together, but for some reason we have fallen into a really good rhythm with meal planning for the last few years. So in case it's helpful to anyone, here's the system that works for us.



The short answer? The crock pot (mostly). First of all, I work full time and don't particularly enjoy cooking, so I really don't want to spend any time on it. We also try not to eat very much during the day, so we are both starving when we walk in the door. We've pretty much found the only way we will eat is if dinner is already done. 

We've found 15 or 20 recipes that are easy (seriously - dump and go), healthy and yummy and we choose 2-3 from the list each week. We make up our grocery list on the weekend, get everything at the store, then make one meal every other day, with leftovers on the off nights. We try not to eat out more than once per week, so it's key we have a plan since it's all too easy to just get take out (which of course does happen sometimes!). 

I also try to take basically every short cut available to save time and effort (as long as it's still healthy - we try to eat mostly clean, so I don't do many processed foods). We use instant microwavable rice, frozen veggies in steam bags, and I almost never chop things if I can help it. My husband hates onions, so I always use onion powder instead of chopping up an onion. Instead of fresh garlic, I also use garlic powder, or sometimes the pre-minced. Little substitutions like that can save a lot of time, I've found. 

So, here are our go-to meals, with the non-crock pot ones toward the bottom. There are quite a few soups on this list, which we eat a lot of during the cooler months. When the weather is nice my husband grills either chicken or burgers in place of all the soups (again, pretty simple and easy). A few are my own recipes, the rest are links to the recipes we use (with notes on our modifications). On my own recipes - I put on low before leaving for work for the day. I'm sure you could cook on high in 4-5 hours to shorten cooking time. Happy not-cooking!

  This is the easiest-ever recipe. Essentially you put frozen chicken breasts and salsa in the crock pot and that's it. It's a staple around here.
- Place frozen chicken breasts in crock pot
- Pour in one can salsa
- We serve it over tortilla chips with sour cream, cheese, avocado, etc. but you could also make tacos or anything else with it
 
Almost as easy - pork and beer and you're done!
- Place pork loin in the crock pot
- Pour in one can of beer
- Top with about a tablespoon each (I eyeball it) of garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper
- When finished cooking, drain beer and remove any fat, then shred meat with a fork and coat in barbecue sauce to taste (takes about 3/4 bottle when we do it)
- I often place sweet potatoes in the crock pot on top of the meat to serve as the side

 I'm sure you can find many roast recipes online. This is just my ultra-simple version. Spice it up to your liking!
- Place roast in crock pot
- Add about a cup of chicken stock
- Season with desired spices (onion, garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaf are what I usually do)
- Place red russet potatoes and baby carrots on top of roast
- When finished cooking, drain off liquid and shred meat
 

This one might be our favorite!
 
 This is a close second!
(We just use the instant microwave packages of rice instead of adding rice to the slow cooker. I also add everything at the beginning instead of waiting to add beans, etc.)




(I don’t even bother peeling or cutting up the potatoes first, just mash them up when finished cooking)



And here are some super simple, quick, non-crock pot meals that are easy week night go-tos.

 CHIPOTLE CHICKEN SALAD RECIPE >>
(We use rotisserie chicken to keep it quick and easy. I skip the canned chilis)

Really you can make just about any combo you like into a panini. This is our go-to.
- Butter one side of two pieces of bread
- Spread pesto and mayo on bread. Add turkey lunch meat (or preferred meat), cheese slice and diced avocado
- Place on panini press for 4-5 minutes

 (serve with a nice crusty bread as it’s not a very hearty soup, but is delicious!)

  - Spread about a tablespoon of blackberry or fig jam on small tortilla
- top with shredded rotisserie chicken and cheese of choice (we use mozzarella but if you are more adventurous brie would probably be good)
- place in a hot pan on the stove and cook each side for about 60 seconds, until cheese is melted

 A grilling season go-to
- Thaw frozen chicken breasts in the microwave and cut into chunks (or you can use steak)
- Place chicken and one can diced pineapple in gallon ziploc bag
- Add teriyaki sauce and refrigerate
- Thread chicken and pineapple onto skewers (alternating every other piece) then grill til chicken is cooked through

Oh, and for more easy dinner ideas, follow my recipe Pinterest board here >> 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing these great meal ideas!

    ReplyDelete

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