4 Tips for Quick and Healthy Weeknight Cooking

4 Tips for Quick and Healthy Weeknight Cooking The Laine List

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.

Do you have any strategies for weeknight cooking? I would love to hear them!

About Laine

Elaine GriffinElaine Griffin (a.k.a. Laine) is a freelance WordPress designer, content creator, and speaker. She brings her background as a sociologist, advocate, and educator, to her work and her writing, which has been featured on BlogHer and The SITS Girls. On The Laine List she spills her guts about life, motherhood, and balancing work and family. She also sprinkles in some fun recipe and cocktail posts. On Elaine Griffin Designs, she writes easy to follow tutorials about WordPress, social media, SEO, and blogging.
Working from her home office in Finger Lakes Region of NY, Elaine, a wine lover, also enjoys the beauty of living in wine country! Read more about Elaine...

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  1. A little tip- I always make 2X the rice (jasmine usually in our family) and freeze the leftovers to throw in a soup or make into fried rice. It is best if you line a cookie sheet with parchment then pop in the freezer to maintain the texture of the rice. When frozen brush into a ziplock or Tupperware and freeze.

  2. I was just saying the other day that one reason my husband and I are still married is that he LIKES leftovers. Your advice to make a big pot of “something” on the weekends saves my sanity, especially in the fall and winter when heartier items are comforting. Enjoyed the post!

    • Elaine Griffin says:

      My husband doesn’t really like leftovers, which is why I transform them. And you’re right about heartier items in the winter. Add to that the early dark and I’m ready for bed before dinner can be ready! :)

  3. What a great list : ).
    I love your name. So pretty.
    Life with Kaishon recently posted..the Creativity Project :: March 2014 :: Furry FriendsMy Profile

  4. Your image is beautiful! Great tips!!!! Pinned!
    Laurie@ Vin’yet Etc. recently posted..GratitudeMy Profile

  5. This is a really great list! I’ll have to keep this in mind–especially now that my family is really watching what they eat. Minus the occasional cupcake and ice cream here or there, hehe.
    Felicia recently posted..Philadelphia 2013: Liberty Bell and Independence HallMy Profile

    • Elaine Griffin says:

      I’m glad you liked it! I think if you do well all day an appropriately-sized desert isn’t a bad thing!

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