“Wake up with determination. Go to bed with satisfaction.” ~Unknown
These days, it would seem that making healthy choices is easier than it ever has been before. We have the internet, full of millions of different recipes, right at our fingertips, and on top of that, the internet is full of websites where you can purchase healthy cookbooks and have them delivered right to your door, sometimes in a matter of hours.
What I have found, though, with these healthy recipes is that they are always so complicated I give up before I can even finish reading them. The picture always looks fantastic and the description can usually make my mouth water, but let’s face it: I work full time and since Hubs has a long commute on top of his work day, I am typically the one who takes on the bulk of the household chores during the week, too. After a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is spend three hours cooking some complicated recipe.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy trying out those recipes, but I save them for weekends, or even just Friday night when I’m usually caught up around the house and we might stay up a little later than usual.
I try to keep the weeknight dinners as simple as possible, while maintaining the healthy standards I set with my breakfast and lunch. Here are some of our go-to’s:
• Steaks with frozen veggies – Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pull the steaks out of the freezer and defrost (if I’m really thinking ahead, I’ll even do this a few days in advance, so the microwave doesn’t have to get involved!), season with salt, pepper and little olive oil. Heat a skillet with some oil (I like avocado oil for this purpose, since it can stand higher temperatures) until it begins to smoke. Cook each side of the steaks for about 2 minutes then transfer to the hot oven and finish cooking until the center of the thickest steak is about 5 degrees below “done.” (Here is a temperature guide for done-ness, depending on your preference). While the steaks are in the oven, I empty a bag of frozen veggies into a microwave safe bowl with a little oil or butter and heat according to package instructions, omitting any water the package may recommend adding. Altogether, this meal will come together in 20 minutes or less.
• Crockpot Anything – The Fix-It and Forget It cookbooks are great, and there are SO many recipes online for crockpot recipes if you just do a quick search. If I know I have something going on after work one day during the week, I will try to figure out my recipe the night before so I can pull out any ingredients I need. My preference for weekday crockpot dinners are recipes that require no prep-work. If I have to brown the beef or start the roast in the oven or boil the potatoes ahead of time, I move on to a new recipe. The goal here is to throw a whole bunch of stuff into a crockpot on the way out the door for work and come home to a fully-cooked meal.
• Stir Fry – Back to the frozen veggies. The frozen aisle is full of “recipe starters,” bags of frozen veggies that you would use in a stir fry, like bell peppers and onions. I throw these onto a pan with a little oil and set a lid on it while the veggies thaw out and get a skillet going to cook up some bite-sized pieces of steak or chicken. Sometimes I even like to drain a can of water chestnuts and add those in with the veggies. Once my meat is cooked, I add that to the skillet with some soy sauce and serve like that, or with some riced cauliflower. This meal comes together in 15-20 minutes.
• Leftovers – The old stand-by! It seems that my evenings are always busiest at the start of the week, so if we have leftovers from larger meals we’ve had over the weekend, I love to use these on Mondays & Tuesdays, when I may be less motivated to cook.
These four listed dinner options will get me through most work weeks completely pain-free. I no longer spend hours of my weekends meal-planning and chopping vegetables. Some days, I may not even decide what we will have for dinner until I get home. I simply make a point to keep my freezer well-stocked with veggies & meat options and my fridge & pantry stocked with some staples, and the work week breezes right by!
What are your favorite weeknight meals?