Anyone else finds it a struggle to get dinner on the table during the week? With work, taking care of the home, driving the kids around town, and everything else we’re trying to manage, being prepared for dinner for the family every night is not easy.
As I see it there are 6 ways I can get dinner ready easily for busy weeknights
- Freezer Meals
- Easy prep, quick-cook meals
- Start dinner in the morning in a Slow Cooker
- Making use of semi-prepared foods
- Meal-prep service
- Take out restaurant food
Keeping the freezer stocked with a few freezer meals really helps to make weeknight dinners easy. Not only is it fast to reheat, but there are fewer dishes than if I had to start from the beginning. Sometimes I take a Sunday to cook a few meals to stock the freezer. Other times I will double or triple a meal so that there’s extra to stock the freezer.
I have been passionate about cookbooks for almost 25 years now and have quite a large cookbook collection. Over 100. If I’m being honest, it’s closer to 200. Some people say cookbooks are going away because of the internet. I disagree. I love them. I’m still adding to my collection. I use them weekly.
I’ve created a few other BEST cookbooks lists:
Sharing some of my favorites that have helped simplify weekdays and help to get a home-cooked meal on the table most nights.
Favorite Freezer Cooking Cookbooks
- Don’t Panic, Dinner’s in the Freezer, Martinex, Howell, and Garcia
- Don’t Panic, More Dinner’s in the Freezer, Martinex, Howell and Garcia
- Not Your Mother’s Make-ahead and Freeze Cookbook, Jessica Fisher
- Skinnytaste Meal Prep: Healthy Make-ahead Meals and Freezer Recipes to Simplify Your Life, Gina Homolka
- You’ve Got It Made: Deliciously Easy Meals to Make Now and Bake Later, Diane Phillips
- Fix, Freeze, Feast, Neville and Tkacsk
- Super Suppers Cookbook, Judie Byrd
- Dream Dinners, Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna
- Once a Month Cooking, Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg
- Happy Holidays Diva of Do-Ahead, Martines, Howell and Garcia
Weeknights are not the time for recipes that cook for hours and use a million ingredients. Recipes with short cooking times, minimal steps, and just a few ingredients are a win for weeknight cooking.
Favorite Easy Dinners Cookbooks
These cookbooks have recipes with just a few ingredients, few steps, and a cooking time that’s usually 30 minutes or less.
- Not Your Mother’s Weeknight Cooking, Beth Hensperger
- 30 Minute Meals and 30 Minute Meals 2, Rachel Ray
- The Six O’Clock Scramble, Aviva Goldfarb
- SOS! The Siz O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue, Aviva Goldfarb
Using a slow cooker is another great way to have dinner ready for the family. Start the meal in the morning before work or getting the kids to school and you don’t need to think it about during the day as your day gets busier.
I own 3 Crock-pot Slow Cookers. The 6 qt Crock-Pot is perfect for making larger meals so that there’s extra to freeze. A 3.5 quart Slow Cooker that is perfect for meals for 2-3 people. And a 1 qt that I use for dips or fondue.
the Best Slow Cooker Cookbooks
- Not Your Mother’s Slower Cooker Cookbook, Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann
- Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes, Heather Jones
- The Gourmet Slow Cooker, Lynn Alley
- Get Crocked, Slow Cooker 5 Ingredient Favorites, Jenn Bare
- Fit it and Forget-It Big Cookbook, Phyllis Good
- Crock-Pot Recipe Collection
A few other ways to get dinner on the table
We take advantage of a lot of semi-prepared foods for easy dinners. So many healthier and tastier options are now available. Trader Joe’s and Costco are my favorite places to stock up. We usually keep spring rolls, potstickers, and edamame in the freezer for an easy Asian night. Frozen meatballs and a can of marinara sauce make for an easy and tasty meal of meatball sandwiches.
Meal prep subscriptions are a great option for easy home-cooked weeknight meals. The kits include everything you need so no shopping needed. The recipes are pretty easy and quick. Home Chef and Hello Fresh are two popular services.
I try to minimize resorting to take-out food because it usually ends up being fast food close to the house that isn’t the healthiest option. We prefer to save our restaurant budget for supporting local restaurants as a planned night out.