The elusive homemade weeknight dinner.
We can do this.
You can do it almost ALL week. Don’t fret. Just a LITTLE prep time this Sunday and you too can exit the land of plastic container pre-made mystery food. Enlist your kids to chop. They’ll love it and feel important.
Seriously, give this a try. Below is four days’ worth of easy meals that you can have on your table within 25 minutes of taking your coat off. Do this Sunday:
- Roast a chicken (on the larger side – 4.5 lbs.). Then cut off the meat and refrigerate. Throw carcass into a slow cooker. Roasting a chicken is easy. Do not be intimidated by a 4 pound dead bird.
- Make rice pilaf
- Chop an onion, carrots, celery, peppers and broccoli into bite sized pieces. Place them in separate containers and refrigerate them.
- Steam your broccoli.
- Make overnight chicken stock in a slow cooker
I can hear you fretting. I promise none of this takes long. A chicken roasts basically on its own. Pilaf is slightly fancier rice. Don’t like pilaf? Then just make rice. Pre-chopping is a god-send later in the week. And throw all of the remnants (chicken carcass, carrots, celery, some onion, bay leaf, cover with water) into the slow cooker and let it go all night. ALL RECIPE SUGGESTIONS BELOW.
Then here is what happens:
MONDAY: roast chicken breasts and rice are reheated. Make a quick salad (greens, maybe some chopped veg if you want, dressing). DINNER.
TUESDAY: grab salmon fillets on your way home. Upon arrival home heat oven to 400 degrees. Salt and pepper the salmon; squeeze of lemon. Into the oven for about ten minutes. While they are cooking, sauté your already steamed broccoli with a little garlic. Serve them together.
WEDNESDAY: Bake some cheesy polenta. Cook your Italian sausages in a little oil. Remove when done. In the same pan, sauté your onion and peppers. Plate – polenta, sausages and peppers. Cheese on top. Easy.
** After the kids go to bed, make this recipe for Chicken-y Noodles. You already have the vegetables cut. You made stock the other day. After it’s made, put it in the fridge.
THURSDAY: heat up your chicken noodles. Add more broth if you want it soupier.
FRIDAY: ok enough already. Order pizza!
None of this is fancy but it’s also pretty doable. And good tasting. See what a little prep can do?
Tips and Notes:
Roast Chicken: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/my-favorite-simple-roast-chicken-231348?. SKIP the trussing! No need. It’s done when internal temp is 165.
Rice Pilaf: you know, a little twist on rice: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-simple-rice-pilaf-46100. I add mushrooms to mine and cook it using beef consomme.
Baked Polenta http://saramoulton.com/2010/11/creamy-baked-polenta/ (NOTE the heavy oven use this week. Ovens are your friend)
Chicken and Noodles: improvise from this recipe. You’ve already got most of it prepared: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/homemade-chicken-and-noodles/
Slow Cooker Chicken Stock: this is a good one, but don’t feel the need for this level of meticulous chopping: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/11/perfect-uncluttered-chicken-stock/