Food Bloggers' Tips: How To Get Dinner on the Table Fast!
Twenty-three bloggers share their tips and tricks to get you through even the busiest week.
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I saw a meme on social media the other day: "Who knew that the hardest part of being an adult is figuring out what to cook for dinner every single night for the rest of your life until you DIE," it exclaims in curlique letters on a hot pink background. It had thousands of likes and shares.
At Yummly, we call this the "dinner dilemma," and we feel your pain. Who hasn't been there? For some real-life solutions, we reached out to 23 women who know the problem all too well — some of our favorite bloggers and recipe creators with businesses to run, busy schedules, and families to feed. Here are their collected tips and tricks to get dinner on the table. Fast. (Note: Blogger responses have been edited for length and clarity.)
Dinner in a Hurry
Kate Morgan Jackson of Framed Cooks loves to cook every day — but there's a catch! Weeknight meals have to be ready in 30 minutes or less to make the cut for Kate (check out her 15-minute chowder as evidence). If you aspire to cook every night of the week yourself, take a tip from Kate: "Start up a collection of 'Dinner In A Hurry' recipes that you know are quick, reliable, family favorites." she suggests. "Keep them either in a folder on your computer or printed out in a paper folder for easy access."
15-Minute Ham and Potato Chowder
Weekend Food Prep
Kalyn Denny, the recipe developer behind Kalyn's Kitchen, is the undisputed queen of carb-conscious recipes, with 14 years worth of blogging under her belt and a veritable treasure trove of diet-friendly recipes to explore. "Doing Weekend Food Prep is my favorite trick for quick dinners," Kalyn tells us. "On the weekend I make favorite casseroles or other dishes that reheat well and make quite a few servings, and then I have leftovers for no-fuss dinners during the week!"
Cheesy Creamy Low-Carb Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake
Rotisserie Chicken to the Rescue
Ukrainian-American blogger Natasha Kravchuk adds Slavic flair to the popular recipes on her blog, Natasha's Kitchen, which she runs with her husband, Vadim. "One of our favorite secrets to a quick and easy dinner is a rotisserie chicken you can pick up at the grocery store. There are so many ways to turn a rotisserie chicken into dinner, like chicken fried rice, chicken salad, chicken tacos, and of course, chicken soup."
Avocado Chicken Salad
Psychotherapist-turned-food-blogger Jessica Formicola knows how to make use of shortcuts in a way that adds a novel taste twist to her recipes on the Savory Experiments blog. "Take advantage of packaged ingredients and the flavor they bring," she recommends. "Use garlic hummus as a base for Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Soup or salsa as the sofritos for Instant Pot Paella or Peach Chicken Picante."
Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Cade and Carrian Cheney prioritize family meal times above all else — and make beautiful food in the process. Their recipes are captured in their first cookbook, Our Sweet Basil Kitchen: Fresh Twists on Family Favorites With Recipe Mashups and Unique Flavor Combinations and on their family-focused blog, Oh, Sweet Basil.
So how do they make sure they get that highly-valued time together around the table? "Freeze it!," exclaims Carrian. "If I'm making a bunch of shredded chicken, I'll double it and freeze it so I can easily make enchiladas over the weekend. Soups, meats, and even pre-chopped veggies for sauces, casseroles, and soups freeze great."
Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Tortilla Soup
A Plentiful Pantry
With five kids to feed, Dee of Meatloaf and Melodrama has become skilled in the art of quick, budget-friendly family cooking. Her tip? "I stock up on our most-used pantry and refrigerator staples so that all I have to do is buy whatever meat and veggies I need, and I can have dinner ready in no time!"
One Pot Creamy Garlic Chicken Pasta
Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan
Meal-planning guru Kristine Rosenblatt of Kristine's Kitchen has transformed the way her family eats with an extensive collection of quick, family-friendly meals. "With four young kids, planning ahead is critical to getting a home-cooked meal on our table," Kristine writes. "When I make our weekly meal plan, I include quick and easy pressure cooker recipes as well as make-ahead slow cooker recipes to save me time in the evenings. And there's nothing wrong with planning in a leftovers night or breakfast for dinner — my kids' favorite!"
Healthier Slow Cooker Baked Ziti
Back to Essentials
U.K. blogger Dannii Martin started her blog, Hungry Healthy Happy, to chronicle her 100-pound weight-loss journey and share the healthy, non-restrictive recipes that fueled her wellness mission. To get a nutritious meal on the table in minutes, try Dannii's chickpea recipe below. "We get dinner on the table fast by making meals that use store cupboard essentials," Dannii explains. "If we have a can of chickpeas, a can of tomatoes, and a good spice selection, then we can make a healthy and filling chickpea curry in just 10 minutes."
10-Minute Chickpea and Spinach Curry
A Plan with a Fallback Plan
Kristy Bernardo, blogger at The Wicked Noodle and author of Weeknight Cooking with Your Instant Pot: Simple Family-Friendly Meals Made Better in Half the Time is realistic in her approach to making dinner. "Planning what I'll be making ahead of time is key," Kristy says. "However, we all get busy and it's not always possible. I keep a list of some super easy recipes and make sure to keep my pantry stocked with those ingredients."
Crispy Baked Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings
Meal Plan This Week? Casseroles.
Professional blogger and self-proclaimed "crazy cat lady" Stephanie Parker makes classic American comfort food, and features an astonishing 20 pages of casseroles on her blog, Plain Chicken. "My number one tip for stress-free dinners is meal planning," Stephanie offers up. "I plan out my weekly menu on Sunday and do all my grocery shopping. I also like to precook any ground beef or chicken for my casseroles on Sunday."
Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
Plan for Today, Freeze for Tomorrow
Certified health coach and podcast host Cameron Rogers of Freckled Foodie uses a combination of meal planning and a well-stocked freezer to get wholesome, healthy meals on the table throughout the week.
"There is nothing more frustrating than coming home from work, absolutely ravenous, and realizing that you have nothing at home to cook for dinner," she writes. "I take time on the weekends to assess my week ahead, grocery shop, and meal prep for the days I know I'll be eating dinner at home. Things that you can always find in my freezer that save the day are sauces, such as my avocado pesto sauce, spicy meat sauce, and tons of soups and stews."
Greek Lamb Quinoa Salad
Perfect Protein Prep
While Dorothy Kern's blog Crazy for Crust leans more sweet than savory, the blogger has begun adding dinner recipes over the past two years to round out her extensive recipe collection. To make time for all her recipe development, Dorothy depends on prepping meats ahead of time to make dinners in a hurry. "I've found that prep is so important," she tells us. "We cook protein ahead of time to use for the week and that has saved my life come dinner time!"
Slow Cooking Saviour
Liz Falcigno, food photographer and founder of the The Clean Eating Couple makes it easy to eat healthy with color-coded dietary recipe tags and a special tag for her favorite quick-dinner fix: the crockpot. "The day/night before, I'll prep a meal, put it in my slow cooker base, and pop it in the fridge overnight," Liz explains. "In the morning I'll take the base out, put it in the crockpot, and turn it on. No matter what I have going on, it's nice to know that dinner will be ready to be served when the time comes."
Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
Ohio-based dietician and fitness enthusiast Lindsay Livingston relies on food prep to get dinner on the table for her family of five. "Every weekend, I spend 1-2 hours in the kitchen prepping food," writes the blogger behind The Lean Green Bean. "I usually prep meal components — roasted vegetable, rice/farro, grilled or shredded meat, etc. Then, during the week, I simply combine the things I prep into quick and easy meals!"
Pulled Pork and Apple Tostadas
One Pan. 30 Minutes.
Ashley Cote's food and travel blog, Spoonful of Flavor, is dedicated to making simple, fresh, family-friendly meals that are big on flavor. "Choose one-pan meals made in less than 30 minutes to help get dinner on the table fast," Ashley suggests. "One-pan meals also allow for easy cleanup and minimal dishes for less hassle at dinnertime."
Turkey Taco Quinoa Skillet
Quick Cooking Basics
Blogger Sommer Collier taught classes on "easy gourmet" cooking before bringing her expertise to a wider audience through her blog, A Spicy Perspective. "If you have a hard time planning ahead, it's important to keep a stocked pantry with all your favorite quick-cook items like canned tomatoes, canned beans, canned pineapple, pasta, rice, coconut milk, BBQ sauce, and spices," Sommer explains. "That way, you can still put together a simple pasta dish or curry without much thought."
Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Skillet
Batch It Up
Canadian food blogger and dietician Abbey Sharp is no stranger to a busy life. Between blogging at Abbey's Kitchen, working with brands, making appearances on TV and radio, and, oh yeah, being a mom, she knows how to get a healthy dinner ready fast. "Batch prep a bunch of meal components so you just have to assemble come dinner time," Abbey tells us. "I like roasting or grilling chicken, steaming non-starchy veggies, roasting starchy veggies, and preparing a big batch of whole grains like quinoa." Want more of Abbey's recipes? Check out her 2018 cookbook, The Mindful Glow Cookbook: Radiant Recipes for Being the Healthiest, Happiest You.
Greek Gluten-Free Meatloaf Muffins | Healthy & Easy Freezer Meals
With 40+ years of cooking experience, registered nurse Liz Berg is a master of balancing healthful eating with tasty treats — in fact, you'll find a collection of 100+ healthy recipes right next to one for 100+ pie recipes on her blog, That Skinny Chick Can Bake. When asked how she manages dinner on busy nights, Liz responds, "Leftovers! Since I was used to cooking for a family of five, continuing to make meals that feed five or six allows me to freeze leftovers for a future meal."
Classic Macaroni and Cheese
The Savvy Sheet Pan
Pesco-vegetarian Dana Sandonato has a knack for creating visually stunning meals for her blog, Killing Thyme. "A sheet pan dinner is almost always the answer to a dinner dilemma," Dana chimes in. "Whether you want to roast a protein with a few veg sides or toss together the ingredients for fajitas, the sheet pan can get it done — and with very minimal clean up afterward! Win/win." Be sure to visit Dana's blog to learn about pescatarianism and sustainable food choices.
Sheet Pan Chicken With Za'atar on Naan
An Instant Fix
Dietician Kristina LaRue loves to help young mothers navigate the chaos that is modern motherhood. Quick, healthy meals help her maintain balance and focus her energies on her family and popular blog, Love & Zest. "My Instant Pot is my saving grace for getting dinner on the table fast," Kristina opines. "I let my kitchen tools work for me for less hands-on time in the kitchen so I can spend time with my family and feed my hungry boys fast."
Instant Pot Chicken and Yellow Rice
Everyone Loves Breakfast!
Maegan Brown, aka The BakerMama, is celebrating the release of her first book, Beautiful Boards: 50 Amazing Snack Boards for Any Occasion. These boards help keep her family of six well-fed and energized. "Anytime we're in a dinner dilemma, I'll make brinner (aka breakfast for dinner)," says Maegan. "Our go-to is a Pancake Board with bacon, scrambled eggs, fruit, and several toppings so each person can fix their own pancake plate. We almost always have the ingredients for a Pancake Board on hand and I can have it on the table, ready for us to enjoy, in less than 30 minutes. Winner, winner, brinner!"
Plan Easy Recipes
Kathryn Doherty's blog, Family Food on the Table, is all about quick, easy recipes that are also healthy and delicious. "Having a plan of what I'm going to make for dinner each night helps me grocery shop, prep ahead, and know what to expect," says Kathryn. "Also, 15-minute meals, one-pot dishes, and sheet-pan dinners are a sanity saver come dinnertime!"
Southwest Chicken Skillet Dinner
Keep It Hot, Keep It Flexible
Melissa Riker, mother of three and resident problem solver at The Happier Homemaker blog is a pro at working around chaotic schedules (and feeding hungry boys). "When family obligations have different people in and out and eating at different times (think multiple clubs/sports practices) I will prep a slow cooker meal earlier in the day so dinner is perfect, even if people get home at different times."