In the Fall and Winter my family thrives on soups, sandwiches, and quesadillas. It’s easy, healthy, and my kids love them. (As do I!) While I do make a fair amount of crock pot meals, this is really our go-to way to eat dinner on the weeknights. Some of you may think this is boring – and it can be. Following these four tips will get you to preparing a quick and healthy meal every night.
Plan ahead, and plan for leftovers!
I know, it sounds pretty basic, but a lot of people have a hard time finding the time to meal plan. Heck, a lot of people don’t like leftovers, and want something new and different every night! With a little time you can make creative use out of leftovers and not feel like you are eating the same thing over and over.
One go-to source for my creative cooking is Pinterest. Most of us are already there anyway, so next time you are pinning recipes, think about what you can make ahead and substitute to make it a great leftover meal.
Cook one or two large meals on the weekend that can serve as the vehicle for the rest of the week.
Use a generic marinade that can be used in a variety of applications. One large cut of meat can be manipulated taste-wise and used in soups, salads, sandwiches, quesadillas – you name it!
Alternatively, use a marinade you know will pair well with something you will use the leftovers for later in the week. For example, this weekend I marinated chicken in cider, garlic, and olive oil for a one-pan dish I made with sweet potatoes, peppers, and corn. Later in the week the leftover chicken will be used for quesadillas with apple and smoked gouda. Presto chango!
Make a variety of veggies ahead of time.
When you are prepping one veggie, you might as well prep several. You will cut the time of getting everything out all over again and cleaning it all up. Again, having a variety of cooked veggies on hand makes it easy to throw together a soup or salad.
Have staples on hand.
Okay we all know that we should have staples. Pasta, sauce, eggs, etc. My five go-to staples are stock, bread, cheese, canned tomato, and canned pineapple. This makes it beyond easy to throw together a leftover soup or stew, grill up some sandwiches, make a quick sauce, or add a new flavor to leftover meats. Pineapple and chicken on salad is delicious and a real crowd-pleaser around here.
There you have it. Sticking to this list not only keeps me sane, but it ensures we have quick, healthy weeknight meals. Do we stray sometimes? Of course! But I find taking the time to plan ahead really makes a difference.