With hectic family schedules, it’s oftentimes difficult for busy parents to fix dinners during the week. With these expert tips, you can stay organized and make fast, delicious meals for your family.
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.
Shop with a strategy
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.
Stock the pantry
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.
Scout the supermarket
Grocery stores offer many options to help people save time in the kitchen. Partially prepared foods, such as pre-marinated meat and pre-cut vegetables, can add to your own recipe while trimming off some time. For some more variety, check out the fringe aisles.
Cook once, eat twice
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.
Make it a family affair
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.
Quick and easy Capellini Pomodoro
Courtesy of Olive Garden
Serves 4 as entrée, 8 as side dish
- 14 oz capellini pasta (angel hair)
- 8 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 11 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 6 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Cook capellini pasta according to package directions.
- Mix diced tomatoes, chopped basil, garlic and oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Drain pasta. Toss pasta with tomato mixture in a sauté pan and heat throughout.
- Serve immediately.