Dinner need never be stressful again. Keep these 10 easy recipes on hand for guaranteed stress-free weeknights. Cook up some pasta, make a pot of soup or plug in your slow cooker. And don’t underestimate the oven as a great time-saver.
There are days when pulling dinner together is tricky. A late work meeting, the kid’s after school activities, or even something as simple as being stuck in traffic and arriving home right on dinnertime can throw the entire evening off course.
Even though I write a meal plan each week (and I cannot emphasise enough the stress this small step takes out of most mealtimes), I still have days when I get caught out and need to just pull together something so we can eat. If I know in advance that I will have limited time to organise dinner, I put an easy meal on my menu to guarantee myself stress-free mealtimes. The ten recipes below are the ones I regularly fall back on when life gets in the way, yet the family still need to be fed.
Pasta is a lifesaver when it comes to fast meals. I like to keep stuffed tortellini or ravioli on hand in the freezer, which I can quickly cook then toss with either sage and brown butter, or with pasta sauce, for an simple meal. Or I whip up one of our family favourites, such as:
Soup is readily prepared ahead, and I often put it on the menu when I know that family members are to be eating at different times. A bowl of soup is easily reheated, and with a hunk of crusty bread becomes a filling meal. Whilst The Princess is still not a fan, the soup recipes below appear regularly on my menu during the winter months.
A good curry is one of my favourite busy day meals. Curry is great made in advance and reheated (in fact it is even better when made in advance), is the perfect dish for the slow cooker, or can be whipped up at the last moment thanks to some of the delicious curry pastes and simmer sauces that are now on the market. Two of my favourite curries are:
Quick Fish Curry (which can also be made with chicken if you are not a fish fan), and
A slow cooker is a busy person’s lifesaver. I can quickly put a meal together in the morning, and leave the house safe in the knowledge that whatever else happens that day, dinner is taken care of. I love that feeling of coming home in the evening and realising that all I need do is serve up the meal. I use my slow cooker to either cook a complete meal, or to cook meal components that can be quickly turned into other dishes. For example:
Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken Tagine – a complete meal that needs little more than a serve of cous cous or some flatbreads to finish it off.
Oven Roasted Meals
Don’t underestimate the usefulness of the oven as a time-saving gadget. Really tasty meals can be pulled together very quickly, then allowed to cook in the oven whilst you prepare some sides or throw on a load of washing. A couple of my favourite quick oven meals are:
The Power of Leftovers
I couldn’t finish this post without talking about the power of a quick rummage in the fridge to pull a meal together. Many scraps of meat and vegetables can be turned into a delicious meal with the addition of a few eggs, some pastry or a few salad leaves. Try my 20 Minute Leftover Roasted Vegetable Frittata or 15 Minute Leftover Salmon Caesar Salad.Check out these 10 #easy #recipes for stress-free mealtimes. #dinner Click To Tweet
One Last Thought – A Rice Cooker with Timer
I rely heavily on my kitchen gadgets for stress-free meals. My oven, my slow cooker, and even my food processor all help reduce my stress levels at dinnertime. However one recent purchase that has been a complete game-changer for me is a rice cooker with a timer. I cannot believe how freeing this one gadget has been.
Previously, even if I had managed to put a slow cooker curry together, I still had to wait for the rice to cook when I arrived home. Or I would cook the rice in advance, but still have to reheat it before dinner could be served. The joy of the timer on my rice cooker is that the rice is ready when I walk in the door, even if I have been out all day, and all I need do is pull out the plates and serve. I can remove chilli from the freezer, put on a slow cooker curry or even plan a super-quick stovetop curry, set the timer for the rice and leave the house knowing that dinner is sorted.