By Lauren Paige
Does the thought of weeknight dinner make you break into a bit of a cold sweat? There’s no time! How am I supposed to cook something healthy every night? I totally get where the stress is coming from, because I’ve been there. Over the years, however, I’ve learned that if you shift how you think about dinner, it can not only be a whole lot easier, but actually a whole lot more enjoyable.
1. Don’t Try to Do All Your Shopping on Sunday
I grew up thinking that grocery shopping was a weekend affair — and if for some reason we ran out of something and needed to make a trip out mid-week, we’d failed. Talk about meal plan pressure! In most other parts of the world, grocery shopping is often a daily occurrence. While that’s not particularly necessary, I have freed myself from stressing about shopping for the whole week on Sunday.
Scheduling a mid-week shop not only means you don’t have to scribble down every single dinner ingredient you need over the weekend, it allows for more flexibility in the second half of the week, because we all know things come up that can shift your dinner plans. That also means less food waste in case you don’t end up cooking all those vegetables you aspired to roast through the week.
2. Schedule a Pantry Night
I like to schedule one night each week where dinner is essentially a kitchen clean out. What actual night it is tends to shift each week depending on what else we have planned but the concept remains the same: Take a good hard look in the fridge, freezer, and pantry and build a complete meal from what your already have, without having to buy anything. It’s a great way to keep ahead of wilting vegetables, things you’ve tossed in the freezer for later, or bottles and jars that might be expiring. While a meal made entirely from the odds and ends might seem impossible some weeks, I bet you it’s not. Even if all you have is a box of spaghetti, half a head of garlic, and olive oil, you can 100% make a satisfying dinner.
3. As Well as a Recurring Theme Night
The other dinner I love to schedule in each week in a themed one. We’re a Pizza Friday kind of family, but I know others love to pencil in Taco Tuesday or a breakfast-for-dinner night. Whatever it is, the goal is it’s something you don’t have to think too much about each week when you’re meal planning. My husband and I know that every Friday, we’re either making pizza, ordering pizza in, or heading out to our favorite neighborhood spot. It’s one less night to worry about and we always look forward to our weekly tradition.
What approach are you taking to making a healthy weeknight dinners a little easier?