Shopping Tips and Dinner Ideas for Easy Week Night Meals
We love to cook dinner at our house and try to keep take-out to a minimum. When I grocery shop, I pick up ingredients that will make easy and healthy dinners through the week. On a weekday evening, I usually stick to meals that require minimal prep work and take less than an hour to cook.
Here are some expert shopping tips:
- Purchase meats that cook quickly - chicken, pork chops, shrimp, salmon, ground meats – turkey, chicken and beef.
- Vegetables that don't require much prep include mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, spinach, corn on the cob, regular and sweet potatoes.
- I always keep these fresh ingredients on hand – onions, garlic, Italian parsley and green onions.
- Keep your pantry stocked with olive oil, brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, low sodium chicken broth, jarred tomato sauce (marinara), canned beans and Panko bread crumbs.
- Don’t forget a variety of dried spices (my basics are Italian blend, cumin, thyme, garlic powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger) to keep those flavor combos interesting.
Once you've done your shopping, you're well equipped to make some quick and easy week night dinners! Here are some ideas:
- Cook ground turkey or beef with onion and garlic + jarred marinara + spinach (thrown in the sauce) + whole grain pasta. Serve with shredded Parmesan on top.
- Stove-top pork chops + sautéed mushrooms (cook in same pan) + pan sauce (use chicken stock) + baked small sweet potatoes (Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and put in the oven at the start of cooking). Kids love a little cinnamon brown sugar sprinkled on top of sweet potatoes.
- Baked salmon with honey-lemon glaze + roasted asparagus or green beans + quinoa (cook quinoa in chicken broth for much more flavor)
- Oven BBQ chicken thighs (season chicken and bake until white, baste with BBQ sauce and bake some more) + Boiled corn on the cob + mashed potatoes (dice potatoes, boil and mash)
If your child is a picky eater, offer a condiment that they like along with that protein or veggie. One of my boys loves ketchup, the other, Parmesan cheese. Offering unpopular veggies with these on top encourages them to give it a taste and to keep eating it.
Also, if your family doesn’t mind leftovers, cook enough for two nights, so on the next night you just heat and eat.
Weeknight dinners don’t have to be a hassle. With these tips and a little pre-planning of your shopping list, dinner will be on the table in no time!
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