Monday, May 11, 2009
In a word - planning.
Everyone should have at least one or two dead-simple meals they can throw together, but on a busy night when you only have minutes isn't the time to try to think of them or figure out if you have all the necessary ingredients.
You'll need to find a few minutes of quiet time to make a plan, even if it's the last half of a lunch hour spent at your desk. I try to take some time on Sunday afternoons after lunch when we all go our separate ways to work on our own projects.
What I do is write down 5 dinners. Two should be so easy I could cook them in 20 minutes while supervising homework. Another might be a simple grilled meat that can be used in a different way on a second night. I like chicken breasts and thighs for this.
Another few minutes deciding which day to have each menu (easy meals on busy days) or I can play it by ear, deciding as I see how my schedule pans out. A quick check of my plan the night before or the morning of and I can pull things out of the freezer as needed.
Once I have my main dishes planned, a side dish or two rounds out the meal and I create my shopping list. A quick peek in my pantry to see what I have already or what substitutions could be made in a pinch and I'm off to the store.
If any of this process seems confusing or too much work, I'll be posting a few more tips this week for those times in your life when even 15 minutes of planning is asking too much (I've been there too).
Also, look for a post in the near future on cooking from scratch when you don't really cook.