10-Minute Tricks for Easy Weeknight Meal Planning

You don't need to dedicate an entire Sunday to meal prepping. Use these super-quick tips any day to get dinner on the table fast.

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Consider It Done

The secret to beating the weeknight dinner rush? Planning in advance. But before you cancel your weekend plans in the name of meal prep, we promise all you really need is a few minutes to get a jump on the week.

Start Prepping as Soon as You’re Back from the Store

Everything's easier when you’re not starting from scratch each night, so give yourself a head start. In just a few minutes, you can chop, wash and dry salad greens. Or saute some onions. Blanch veggies. Cook off a batch of grains. Grill a few chicken breasts. Then use these prepped ingredients to make a grain bowl or big salad for dinner on shopping day. The prep won't feel like drudgery and everything will do double-duty later in the week.

Assign Days a Theme

Why should Tuesday get all the fun (and tacos)? In a few minutes, you can give every day of the week a theme — and suddenly it becames easier for you to shop and plan. Make it a Spaghetti Monday, Slow-Cooker Thursday, Pizza Friday, or whatever best fits you and your family.

Make One Morphable Sauce

A super-quick tomato sauce (like pureed tomatoes simmered with half an onion and a chunk of butter) can play a few different roles over the course of the week: It can be a base for baked eggs, an easy pasta sauce or the seasoning in a shepherd’s pie. Tomatoes not your thing? You'll get the same versatility with a simple white sauce (flour, butter, milk). Use it for sausage gravy, creamy pasta casserole or a veggie gratin.

Measure Out Some Slow-Cooker Meals

Scoop the ingredients for a slow-cooked stew (think sausage and lentils, beef and butternut squash, or root veggies and red wine) into a plastic bag, then write cooking instructions on it and refrigerate (or freeze) until you need it. Thaw overnight if frozen, then drop it all into the cooker in the morning and come home to dinner.

Freeze Marinated Meat

Portion out quick-cooking cuts (like boneless chicken thighs or pork chops) into what your family needs for a night or two into a plastic bag. Then add your favorite marinade, seal and pop in the freezer. When you need a quick dinner, thaw out the meat in a bowl of cold water and grill or broil. Serve with a quick salad and bread and you’re set.

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