Family tips

Five tips for making weeknight dinners a breeze

La parfaite maman cinglante logo  Maude Michaud | La parfaite maman cinglante

 

The pace of weeknights is crazy. Before you know it, you’re a ball of nerves and sweating up a storm, and then it’s bath time. So, to help you preserve your sanity and enjoy some quality time with your youngsters, here are five tips for making weeknight dinners a breeze.

#1 The slow cooker

Nothing new here, but the slow cooker is a magical way of getting dinner ready for 5 p.m.—after a day’s work—even if it sometimes means handling cubes of beef and chopping onions at 7 a.m. If, like me, the idea of touching ground beef before you’ve had your first sip of coffee turns your stomach, prep your ingredients the night before, dump them in a plastic bag or container, and then the next day, you’re good to go. There are literally thousands of slow cooker recipes online but, between you and me, a cup of sauce, some meat and three or four carrots does the job.

#2 Frozen foods

The frozen food section is like a bastion of weeknight family time. True, a frozen pizza is not packed with nutrients. But consider this: as the pizza is cooking itself, you’re not losing an ounce of patience, and that’s worth something. To switch things up a bit, enjoy a treat of chicken nuggets, meat pie or lasagna. Yes, I know, you can put together a lasagna in 10 minutes. But open a box of frozen lasagna and pop it in the oven, and you’ve just saved yourself 8 minutes.

#3 Prepare your batch on Sunday

If you’re a fan of home-cooking and like to cook, and if sodium gives you nightmares, the best is to prepare a batch of dinners on Sunday. That way, the only thing left to do is stick your meals in the oven the whole week long. But beware, don’t underestimate what it takes to cram the preparation of five meals into one day. I’m all about balance, so I advise combining this with frozen foods and the slow cooker. You can thank me for the little free time this saves you next Sunday.

#4 Simple dishes

If for some reason (like you’re a masochist) you choose to prepare a different meal each day from Monday to Friday, opt for simple recipes. Really simple. Spaghetti is simple. Hot chicken is simple. A béchamel sauce is not. I know it only takes 10 minutes to do, but it’s in those 10 minutes, when you have to whisk your roux to prevent the sauce from clumping and the milk from curdling, that your youngest will finish pooping and your oldest fall flat on his face.

#5 Breakfast for dinner

If for some odd reason your slow cooker dies in the middle of cooking, your freezer is empty, you were sick on Sunday and didn’t get to prepare your weekly batch of meals and you’ve run out of the ingredients to make spaghetti, have a breakfast-dinner. I guarantee you that serving your kids a bowl of cereal for supper will make you an instant star.

And, to avoid having to get up from the table 50 times to wash hands and wipe up spilled milk or spaghetti sauce, grab a roll of paper towels before sitting down and keep it within reach.

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