Raise your hand if meal time can be stressful, especially if you have children at home. My hand is definitely raised. With a 1-year-old toddling around the kitchen, sometimes it can be especially difficult to get dinner made. A number of people here at Land O’Lakes are young parents with small children. One of them is our marketing director, Stacey. Not only does she have a 1-year-old like me, she also has a 5- and a 7-year-old. Talk about busy! Between her hectic work schedule and her kids’ activities, she could definitely relate to my mealtime issues. We discovered that we both like to take advantage of open nights or weekends to make meals ahead of time, and try to make good use of our freezers. I decided that we could work together to come up with some quick and easy meal ideas to ease the weeknight dinnertime dilemma.
One thing that can definitely help speed up meal time are Sauté Express® squares. I decided to share some ideas that we’ve come up with in the Test Kitchens with Stacey, so when she’s juggling swimming lessons, birthday parties and dance class all in one night, she has some quick weeknight meal ideas to which she can turn.
Monday, Monday…back to the daily grind of work and school. With their church group starting at 6 p.m., there’s not much time to get a meal on the table. Luckily, Teriyaki Shrimp Lo Mein comes together in just 25 minutes! Teriyaki Sauté Express® squares help make a delicious sauce to coat the noodles and shrimp. No take-out is required!
Tuesday is Stacey’s family’s “free” night – no activities! So I suggested that since she had a little bit more time, it would be fun to involve the kids in the kitchen and make Turkey Meatballs Marinara. Cooking the turkey meatballs in Italian Herb Sauté Express® squares and then adding a can of crushed tomatoes makes instant homemade marinara – so easy!
Serve with hot, cooked pasta and a fresh green salad, and it’s an Italian feast the whole family will love.
Wednesday is another busy night with dance class at 6 p.m. The middle of the week calls for Italian Cheesesteak Sandwiches! Deli roast beef speeds things up and Italian Herb Sauté Express® squares give a delicious Italian twist to the classic sandwich. Serve with sweet potato fries, and the kids will be asking for seconds.
Thursday is a busy night for Stacey’s family, too. The kids are each at a different activity. There isn’t much time to spend in the kitchen. One tip I gave her for a busy night like this is to make Spinach Artichoke Lasagna on the weekend when she has a spare hour, and then freeze it. Just label the top of the pan with baking instructions, and make sure to take it out the night before to thaw completely in the refrigerator. Coming from someone who does this regularly, it’s a huge relief to know that you just have to throw it in the oven and dinner will be ready! Plus, you can feel better about the fact that it is not a pre-packaged meal.
Friday nights are also “free” nights, and who doesn’t love take-out-style meals? No need to rush to the local Chinese restaurant and wait in line when you can whip up Sticky Lemon Chicken at home in about the same amount of time. It uses frozen, breaded chicken tenders that Stacey usually has on hand in her freezer. Use Lemon Pepper Sauté Express® squares to add a sticky, sweet coating to the chicken. Pop a bag of frozen rice in the microwave, and the meal is complete!
Hopefully these meal ideas will inspire you and help you overcome the weeknight meal dilemma. If you have any suggestions or ideas for Stacey or me, please leave them in the comments! I’m always looking for new tips.