Two Olive Garden executive chefs, Marie Grimm and Jennifer Treptow, are working mothers who offer expert advice on how to prepare delicious meals in under 30 minutes and reclaim the family dinner experience.
Make a master list organized by aisle or department to keep your trip focused and fast. Shop once a month for dry storage and freezer items, two times a month for refrigerated items like cheese and eggs, and once a week for perishable foods.
A well-stocked pantry is key to flavor and function in the kitchen. Basic cooking staples should include flour, sugar, salt, olive oil and a few herbs and spices. Also, stock up on foods you eat regularly and those that can be incorporated into many meals, such as pasta, quick cooking rice, potatoes, canned beans, prepared broths and canned tomatoes.
On a Sunday, cook a large quantity of your family's favorite meal. Then, separate it in smaller portions and freeze it for meals throughout the week. This works great for crowd pleasers like lasagna or any of your favorite homemade sauces.
Get your kids to help. Give everyone a chore such as setting the table, loading the dishwasher or chopping and mixing ingredients. You'll get in extra quality time and make your dinner routine a fun family experience from start to finish.
Small changes to your favorite recipes can make a noticeable difference without adding time. For instance, you can substitute polenta for bread crumbs in chicken fingers or add spinach to a lasagna recipe.
Courtesy of Olive Garden
Serves 4 as entrée, 8 as side dish
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