Life

Easy weeknight meal ideas

Today I’m going to share some of my favorite easy prep meals.  These typically take about 30-45 minutes to prepare and are healthy and delicious.  I try to use fresh organic ingredients whenever possible and stock up on a variety of in-season produce on my weekly grocery run.  Before I go to the grocery store, I figure out what meals I may want to make for the week and add those ingredients to my phone’s Reminder app.  For each meal, I aim to include one protein, one carb, two vegetables, and one fruit.

I have thought about subscribing to a pre-proportioned meal ingredient delivery service like Blue Apron to save time, but realized that it would still take about 45 minutes to prepare each meal from start to finish.  Even with the delivery service, I would still have to go grocery shopping for other items so it wouldn’t necessarily save me more time.  I will likely try one of these services in the future but have come to the conclusion that it isn’t the best fit for my family right now.  That being said, I think this kind of service is great for people who are looking for some variety in their food preparation or looking to hone their cooking skills.

I have been cooking with my mom since I was seven and she seldom uses recipes.  She has a good sense of what ingredients go well with what and is always creative in coming up with new delicious dishes.  She taught me the proper way to hold a knife, how to brown meats to enhance the flavor of dishes, and most importantly, how to improvise with whatever ingredients I have on hand.  Now my three year old son likes to cook with me and he loves to help me to cut, mix, and stir.  He tells me that I am his sous chef, ha!

I don’t have complete recipes for the meals that I’m sharing below, but I try to offer tips along the way.  If you see something that you would like to make, you can look for it on my Pinterest recipes board or simply google the recipe.  You can find my white bean chicken chili recipe here.

1. Macaroni with tri-colored bell peppers and cherry tomatoes in tomato basil sauce

When I’m not making a dish completely from scratch (i.e. pasta sauce), I typically add additional ingredients to make it more “homemade”.  In the dish below, I sautéed the bell peppers and garlic with olive oil first, then stirred in the jar of tomato basil sauce.  I use macaroni pasta so that it is easier for the boys to eat.

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Macaroni pasta with tri-colored bell peppers and cherry tomatoes
2. Cod with eggplant, tomato, mushroom and wild rice with broccolini

This is a frozen cod that I baked in the oven.  I sautéed the other vegetables in olive oil.  To cook the broccolini, I drizzle with olive oil and add sea salt, cover with wet paper towel, and microwave for 3 minutes.  It comes out perfectly green, crisp, and fully cooked.

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Cod with eggplant, tomato, mushrooms and wild rice.  Brocollini on the side
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3. Chicken drumsticks with potatoes and chickpeas in masala sauce

I put all the ingredients together in my slow cooker with this masala simmer sauce from Trader Joe’s.  I serve it with basmati rice on the side.

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Chicken drumsticks with chickpeas, potato in masala sauce
4. Caprese Salad

This looks fancy but is the easiest thing to make.  It’s just tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, olive oil, sea salt, pepper and basil.

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Caprese Salad
5. BBQ pulled pork with mixed green salad, broccolini, and sweet potato

Here is another slow cooker recipe.  I buy pork butt or shoulder and cook it in the slow cooker with ginger ale on low for 5-6 hours.  The ginger ale sweetens and tenderizes the meat.  I drain the liquid, shred the meat and add this BBQ sauce and let it cook for another hour or so.

Broccolini and sweet potatoes are some of my favorite side dishes because they are super fast and easy to make.  For the salad, I toss the mixed greens and cherry tomatoes with my own balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

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BBQ pulled pork with mixed green salad, broccolini, and sweet potato
I hope these meal suggestions will help you to add some new dishes to your repertoire.  What are your go-to dishes?

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-Melissa

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