Effortless, easy, wholesome and delicious ideas for making weeknight dinners less stressful.
Everyday weeknight dinners have to be effortless. Anything that is under 20 mins or uses one pot or pan is a winner. Bonus points for making it likeable for everyone in the family.
Now that schools have started, we all know how crazy those few hours in the evenings get. It is like you have to do EVERYTHING between like 5-8 pm - after school activities, homework, dinner prep and cooking, eating dinner, bath time, bed time, clean up!
I am just exhausted writing this. When we think of it we don't know how us moms (and even dads) do this. But we do and let me tell you, it is frigging exhausting. Let me help you with making at least the dinner part a little easier.
A few tips to make dinner time less stressful
- Work in parallel. For example, if you are making pasta, get the pasta boiling, while you prep the other ingredients or the sides. This way you are working in parallel and can utilize your time well.
- Feel free to use pre prepped ingredients. Buy bags of prewashed or pre cut produce so that saves precious time of cutting and prepping veggies.
- Take shortcuts as needed. There is no shame in that. For example, use canned chickpeas instead of trying to remember to soak them overnight and then spending time to cook them etc. Those can happen on a particularly slow week or the weekend.
- Let the family pitch in. Get the kids to set the table. Enlist your partner to load the dishwasher. Knowing that your workload is shared is half your load off.
- And lastly but most importantly, have fun while cooking. Have the kids sit at the kitchen table to do their homework or artwork while you cook. Put on some music. Dance a little with the kids or with your partner while that rice is boiling away.
These Back To School Guide for Families, School Lunch Packing Made Easy, Back to School Snack Packing, and Back to School Breakfast Recipes posts can be great resources as well.
Here are my family's favorite dinners to eat and my favorites to make, as it checks all the boxes of being quick, easy clean up and delicious.
Pasta and Noodles
Pasta and noodle recipes are always so easy to make and always a hit with everyone at the dinner table. They make for excellent leftovers that can be packed for next day's school lunch. If you are making plain pasta with a tomato sauce, there are sides in the next section that you can make as an extra if you wish to. But hey, some days its gonna be just pasta, some tomato sauce and some cheese grated on top for dinner and that's ok too.
- Garlic Spinach Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce
- Lemon Asparagus Pasta with Parmesan
- Vegetarian Fajita Pasta
- Easy Pumpkin Alfredo Pasta
- Linguine with Mushrooms in a White Wine Butter Sauce
- Tomato Basil Mac and Cheese | Little People Food
- One-Pot Spicy Chicken and Chorizo Rigatoni
- Spicy Pork Noodles with Scallions
- Vegetarian Carbonara with Mushrooms and Asparagus
- Butternut Squash Noodles with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts
Curries, Dals and Vegetable Sides
These curries, dals and sides/sabjis can be paired with rice or rotis. Leftovers can be packed for next day's lunch as well.
- Thai Sweet Potato and Spinach Curry
- Vendakka Mappas - Okra Curry with Coconut Milk
- Easy Chana Masala
- Kerala Style Potato Curry with Coconut Milk
- Matar Paneer - Paneer and Green Peas in a Spiced Tomato Sauce
- Instant Pot Parippu Curry - Instant Pot Dal with Coconut
- Lahsooni Moong Dal - Garlicky Yellow Lentil Curry
- Instant Pot Dal Fry
- Dal Palak ~ Spinach with Moong Dal
- Zucchini Koottu - Zucchini in Mung Dal and Coconut Sauce
- Dal Fry ~ Spiced Pigeon Pea Lentils Stew
- Palak Methi Paneer - Paneer with Spinach And Fenugreek
- Aloo Methi - Potatoes with Fenugreek Leaves
- Spinach and Chickpea Saute with Coconut
- Kerala Style Roasted Okra - Vendakka Mezhukkupuratti
- Paneer Jalfrezi - Paneer Stir Fried with Vegetables
- Red Beets and Rainbow Carrots Thoran
- Spicy Tomato Egg Curry
- Southwest Black Bean, Kale and Sweet Potato Skillet
- Perfect Oven Roasted Broccoli with Tandoori Ranch
Rice recipes like pulao or other flavored rice that may be enough as a meal in itself without having to make another side or just a simple veggie side might suffice. Again these rice recipes make for excellent school lunches too, so make extra for leftovers.
- Spinach Chickpeas Brown Rice Pulao
- Tawa Pulao ~ Basmati Rice with Vegetables and Spices, An Indian Street Food
- Paneer Methi Pulao ~ Basmati Rice scented with Spices, Fenugreek Leaves and Paneer
- Cauli Rice Peas Pulao
- Instant Pot Vegetable Masala Rice
- Easy Instant Pot Vegetable Pulao
- Instant Pot Sambar Rice
- Tomato Rice - Thakkali Sadam
- South Indian Lemon Rice
- South Indian Curd Rice
Sheet Pan Dinners
Sheet Pan dinners are lifesavers as all you have to do is preheat the oven, assemble things in a baking pan, bake and you are all set. Less dishes to wash in itself is a win as far as weeknight dinners are concerned.
Chicken dinners that are true winners. Most of these recipes are baked chicken recipes that can be made in one baking pan in the oven, saving you so much time.
Soups and Stews
These are always so hearty and wholesome, especially as we approach the colder months after schools start.
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