by Diana Simeon
It’s 6:00 p.m. You’re tired. Your teenagers are hungry. The fridge is empty. By the time you get back from the grocery store, your teenagers have filled up on cereal and you’re eating alone.
There is a better way, says Andrea Landow, owner of the Cleveland-based personal chef service, Stress Less Gourmet. Landow offers her top-four suggestions for getting a home-cooked family dinner on the table most days of the week (in less than 30 minutes a day).
1. Make your menu in advance. Sit down over the weekend and pick your recipes for the coming week. Put your inner Julia Child on hold and look for recipes that “don’t have a lot of ingredients, are easy to make, and full of flavor,” says Landow. Think pasta with a simple, fresh sauce. Or stir fry. (Also see Landow’s recipe for Chicken Caprese below.) Write out the menu for the week and post it on your fridge, so you know what you’re making and everyone else knows what they’re eating.
2. Buy everything at once. When you’ve selected your recipes, make a shopping list that contains all the ingredients and buy everything on the weekend. This way, when you get home on Monday (or Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.) you’ll have what you need to make dinner that evening. Landow suggests sorting the list by the sections of your grocery store (produce, meat, dairy, etcetera). “I am not a fan of shopping and want to get in and out,” jokes Landow. “This makes it much faster.”
3. Prepare (a few things) in advance. If you have spare time on the weekend, consider chopping vegetables or meat, cooking grains, or even preparing sauces in advance. This will make getting dinner on the table the coming week more of a snap. “So there’s still a little prep involved, but not much,” says Landow. You can also double up on a weekend meal and serve the leftovers one night.
4. Execute your plan. This is the easy part. You know what you’re serving. You have all the ingredients. You’ve even done some of the prep work. So get cooking!
And one last tip: technology can be your friend when it comes to cooking for your family, says Landow. There are dozens of apps for finding and storing recipes, generating (and sorting) shopping lists, including for those on particular kinds of diets—yes, there’s even one for raw foodies—but Landow is a fan of Paprika, available for iPhone/iPad and Android.
Stress Less Gourmet’s Simple (and Delicious and Easy to Make-Ahead) Chicken Caprese
- Take a Zip-Lock bag and add some olive oil, pesto, and chicken breasts and let marinate for up to two days in the fridge.
- Do the same with thick-sliced tomatoes. (Be sure to use a separate bag from the chicken.)
- When preparing for dinner, simply grill or pan fry the chicken until done. (For an added flavor boost, the tomatoes can be grilled for a minute or two as well.)
- Top the cooked chicken with marinated tomato slices & sliced fresh mozzarella. Broil just long enough for the cheese to melt.
- Serve chicken over angel hair pasta.