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Tips For Fast Weeknight meals

Need a few tricks for making the dinner hour feel less like rush hour? From simple things like prepping the night before to getting creative with leftovers to stocking your pantry with the right ingredients, our tips will help you pull together satisfying dinners for the whole family in record time.

Plan Ahead

Got more time to cook on the weekend? Use it to make dishes that can be used in multiple recipes, whether it's a big cut of meat or a small element that packs a lot of flavor-like the caramelized onions that can be used a million different ways. What about when your weekend is just as packed as the weekdays? Take just 20 minutes or so to inventory your fridge and plan out your meals for the week-it lets you identify small do-ahead steps that you can knock out in advance, like making a marinade the night before so you can pop in a cut of meat in the morning, or prepping several days of salad greens at once.

Think Thin. . .and Small

You can't roast a chicken in 20 minutes, but you can sauté some chicken cutlets or grill small, skewered chunks of chicken. Look to recipes that have you cut your meat (and veggies) into small cubes or thin slices (or consider tweaking recipes that don't), and save those thick bone-in cuts for the weekend.

Embrace the Leftover, but Totally Transform It

Leftovers get a bad rap, and when they're just reheated in the microwave it's easy to see why. But when they morph completely into another dish, then you look like a genius. Skip the predictable salads and soups for ragoûts, hashes, and easy savory tarts. Just keep the seasonings on the master recipe fairly neutral so it's more versatile for leftovers. And remember, this trick isn't reserved for a big hunk of meat-vegetable sides can transform just as well.

Do Take-Out at Home

It's easier-and faster-than you might think to recreate restaurant favorites at home. Considering that it takes the same amount of time for delivery or (gasp!) going out of your way to pull up to that drive-thru window, you're better off utilizing that well-stocked pantry of yours and making fajitas, burgers, and stir-fries that are exceedingly tastier than anything that comes in a cardboard container or paper wrapper.

All-in-Ones Make Clean-Up a Breeze

What's even better than shaving 10 minutes off your cooking time? Shaving 10 minutes off your clean-up time. Whole-meal recipes that cook all in one pot or all on one baking sheet (often under the broiler) are a godsend in this department; not only do they save you the time of preparing a main dish and two sides, you have far fewer dishes to wash at the end.

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