Even a trained culinary professional and acclaimed cookbook author can struggle with satisfying three pint-size critics during weeknight dinners.
Catherine McCord spends her days immersed in food. Not only does she run two food-based businesses—Weelicious (an online treasure trove of simple, healthy recipes to please picky little palates) and One Potato (a meal delivery service specializing in fresh foods to feed the whole family)—but she also regularly appears as a judge on Guy’s Grocery Games on Food Network.
Despite an overbooked calendar, she’s found the secret to feeding Kenya (10, he’s a vegetarian!), Chloe (8, she’ll try almost anything), and Gemma (1, she’s still nursing a little) without becoming chained to her kitchen. So for any mom who’s strapped for time (read: all of us!), here are Catherine’s tips for creating made-from-scratch meals that are fast, satisfying, and most of all, stress-free.
PLAN, PREP, AND PRIORITIZE IN ADVANCE
“Every Sunday I stock up on staples and then spend an hour or two prepping ingredients for the week ahead. Go-to dishes include a big batch of roast vegetables that can be eaten on their own or tossed into quesadillas and salads. A simple chicken dish like No Work Chicken, Lazy BBQ Chicken, or Chicken in the Crock Pot covers dinner and a lunch or two during the week.
At this time of year, my bag is always filled with fresh peas (my kids love Pea Pops); strawberries to dunk in Coconut Whipped Cream; broccoli and spinach to make into Croquettes; and baby potatoes, cauliflower, salmon, and zucchini for Turkey Zucchini Burgers.
Lastly, I always cut up some fruit or veggies for the kids to snack on at lunch or after school, so there’s always something delicious and nutritious in the fridge that takes little time to prepare.”
GET THE KIDS INVOLVED
“It may seem counterintuitive to get your kids in the kitchen to help you cook as they are not always the cleanest beings, but in the long run it’s a total win-win. Give kids small jobs to do like peeling carrots, sprinkling in salt, tossing salad, cutting bell peppers with a child-safe knife, and more. Not only will your kids begin to learn to cook, but they’ll also become better eaters along the way.”
PICK RECIPES YOU CAN MASTER
“You know those weeks when you’re totally brain dead and find yourself walking around the grocery store in a fog? I find that having a few recipes in my cooking arsenal that everyone in the family enjoys and that are easy to prepare, makes weeknight dinners so much easier. We cook five to six nights a week, so I have a few go-to recipes on rotation, including Crock Pot Veggie Lasagna, Turkey Taco Bowls, Easy Chicken Nuggets, Crispy Smashed Potatoes, Spiced Chicken with Lemons and Olives, and Salmon Sheet Pan Dinner.
DO A MORNING CHECK-IN
“Even though it may be hours before dinner, take a few minutes in the morning to figure out what you’re going to make that night. Prep as many of the ingredients ahead of time as possible, so all you have to do when you get home is the actual cooking. Making a stir fry? Get your veggies all chopped. Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs? Roll the meatballs ahead of time, so all you need to do is cook them and toss with the pasta. The more you do in advance the faster weeknight dinners can be.”
And for the nights you just can’t fathom planning, shopping, and cooking (again!), you can try Catherine’s meal-delivery service. One Potato magically transports 30-minute farm-fresh meals to your door, complete with prepped ingredients, recipe cards, and a roll of slice-and-bake cookie dough (Editor’s note: that wouldn’t even make it to the oven before it was devoured by yours truly!). Use code CAT25 at checkout for $25 off your first box (currently delivering to Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.