Every once in a while I romanticize about how the family dinner used to be prepared.
For some reason a scene of an old-world woman-of-the-house comes to mind. I imagine her starting off the day by visiting the local market, bartering for fresh and local ingredients before coming back home to begin preparing the family evening meal.
I imagine her chopping, kneading, simmering, and baking with care…
Keeping a beautiful and meticulously clean house in between.
I imagine how wonderful that meal must taste with it having so much love, time, and energy devoted to it.
“I want that,” I’ll think to myself.
But that is usually the moment when I stop and realize the less fun truth. That the woman of the household who would have to spend her entire day creating that meal from scratch would have to be ME.
And that is where the romance dies for me.
While that sounds nice SOMETIMES, I am a gal of far too many diverse interests and passion projects to have time for that everyday as I am sure you are too.
And with shifting gender roles, ladies who work hard in or outside of the home, and packed family schedules, one thing is for sure – getting a healthy weeknight dinner on the table is not as simple as it used to be.
So, for the modern day woman/man trying to stay committed to living the healthy lifestyle they aspire to, how can you succeed in breathing life and vitality back into the evening meal without the stress?
Below you will find my top 5 favorite tips for making a healthy weeknight dinner happen.
5 Ways to Actually Succeed at Getting a Healthy Weeknight Dinner on the Table
1) Talk to Your Partner/Roommate/Family Often & Early
If you live and eat your evening meal with someone else, it can be easy to not take full responsibility for having a dinner plan which can lead to a communication breakdown and both of you dropping the ball. By either simply not talking about it, talking each other into takeout or going out to a restaurant, or by giving up because you “aren’t sure what the other person wants” you give yourself permission to not plan and, as many of us know, failure to plan often means failure to succeed. Set yourself up for success.
Take responsibility for creating a dialogue and communication system for meal planning. If you can, plan meals out together at the beginning of the week and, if you don’t have a plan, text/call each other early on in the day BEFORE you are tired and hungry about what you will have that night, who will cook it, and what groceries someone might need to pick up on the way home from work.
2) Stock Your Freezer
We all need a backup plan sometimes and your freezer is a great place to stockpile for easy weeknight meals! Use it!
Make sure you always have plenty of protein options such as meatballs, sausages, chicken breast, salmon, and shrimp for backup protein. Frozen fruits and vegetables are perfect for smoothies or stirfries in a pinch when you haven’t had time to make it to the farmers market or grocery store. Even healthier, portion controlled prepared meals can be a healthier alternative to chinese takeout.
Bonus Tip: Make extra big batches of soups and chilis and freeze them in single serving containers for future weeknights when you are just too darn tired to cook.
3) Make a List of your Go-To Easy Meals
As you try new recipes or put together fast and easy meals that you enjoy, keep a running list on your phone or on a piece of paper in the kitchen for quick and easy reference in the future. It is so easy to get kitchen amnesia and feel like you have no idea what you could possibly eat (extremely common after long days and blood sugar running dangerously low!) and this short list will help give you a much-needed refresher in the moment. Try to keep ingredients in the house for your favorite meals on this list at all times.
4) Map out Your Weekly Meal Plan
As part of my 40-Day Focus Program, my clients choose one day per week to plan out their meals and goals for the week ahead. Meal planning does not have to take a long time and you don’t even have to follow your plan exactly, but the act of getting organized and throwing ideas out there makes all the difference. And remember that list of your favorite go-to meals? Pull it out and use it when planning your week and you’ll be done before you know.
5) Use A Grocery Delivery/Meal Service
If you love cooking but need a little help getting organized, there are many online delivery options that can make your life so so so much easier.
Many grocery stores now offer delivery services (try Instacart) so you can plan your meal and get your groceries delivered to your doorstop without having to ever leave your desk.
For health food essentials, I LOVE Thrive Market where you can get wholesale prices on Whole Foods-inspired products online. I regularly place orders to stock up on my favorite nut butter, NuttZo and KIND bars so that I always have healthy and nutritious snacks in the house.
Meal Services that deliver ingredients and recipes to make your own homecooked meals like Blue Apron also help streamline the meal planning process as well as give you an opportunity to sharpen your cooking skills and try something new.
These are just a few of my favorite tips to make weeknight meals happen. Tell me, what helps you get dinner on the table during the week? Comment below.