Between practices, playdates and work, weeknight schedules can fill up quickly. And while it may seem easier to order out or swing through the drivethru, we’ve got tips, tricks and easy dinner ideas that can help you get your fresh fast. See how you can win during a busy week by meal planning or taking 1 ingredient and turning it into several meals.
Meal Planning Easy Weeknight Dinners
A good place to start when planning your meals is making sure the recipes you like include the right food groups. Most meals should have protein, carbs, vegetables and healthy fats when possible. From there, think about your family’s schedule. Are there days when dinner will have to be on-the-go? Then you might look for a meal that’s handheld and less of a mess, like this Easy Chicken Quesadilla recipe. Or maybe it’s a night where it’s hard to get everyone around the table at the same time. Then recipes that can be reheated or eaten cold may be the way to go, like this Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Casserole recipe. But when you do find time to eat as a family, you can try this quick and easy Honey-mustard BBQ Chicken Sandwiches recipe.
Other than thinking about the types of recipes that fit your schedule, you can also utilize many of the same techniques that keep kids’ school lunches ready-to-eat (like packing warm foods in thermoses when possible, or using ice packs to make sure meals stay at the correct temperature when you’re on the go).
Because protein is often the backbone of a meal, it’s important to try and find one protein that you can use in many ways. That way you’re only cooking your protein once, but you’re making several fun and flavorful dishes throughout the week.
Rotisserie Chicken, An Easy Weeknight Dinner MVP
One of our favorite proteins that you can stretch into many meals is rotisserie chicken. Delicious and ready to eat, this already-cooked protein is the perfect way to get the taste of slow cooking without the hassle. To pick the best rotisserie chicken, you’ll want to make sure that the chicken’s plump and the skin’s smooth (and not dry). You can use rotisserie chicken to create fast, easy and healthy meals that can be re-heated, taken with you on-the-go or enjoyed at the family table.
Rotisserie chicken can be added to a bagged salad mix for a fast and easy meal that can be enjoyed cold. You can also use the same salad mix and chicken to create a wrap that can be eaten in the car on the way to practice or playdates. Or swap out the salad mix for microwavable rice and easily create protein-packed rotisserie chicken bowls that can be reheated to accommodate a variety of dinner times. For more rotisserie chicken ideas and FAQs, visit our Rotisserie Chicken Guide.
Quick Chicken Dinners
Chicken’s one of the most versatile proteins to have on hand. Besides rotisserie chicken, you can also prep chicken breast and thighs ahead for the week. Chicken breasts are the best choice if you plan to eat your meal cold or at room temperature due to the texture. Chicken thighs are best for re-heating since they have a higher fat content (which helps to keep the chicken juicy).