Jessica Merchant of How Sweet Eats Shares Her Weeknight Dinner Strategy

updated May 29, 2019
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(Image credit: Erin Alvarez)
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(Image credit: Erin Alvarez)

Welcome to Kitchn’s new series A Week of Dinners, where we show you how people put dinner on the table for their family, thanks to the five weeknight recipes they rely on.

Jessica Merchant lives with her husband, Ed, and 2 1/2-year-old son, Max, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she writes and develops recipes. “I’m madly, outrageously, inexplicably in love with food,” Merchant explains enthusiastically. She is the author of bestselling cookbook Seriously Delish and upcoming cookbook The Pretty Dish. Since 2009 she’s been the blogger behind How Sweet Eats, a wildly popular food blog with the most gorgeous photos. (Do yourself a favor and follow her on Instagram immediately. I’m serious.)

Today Jessica shares how she gets food on the table for her family (even when she’s 9 months pregnant right now!) and what weeknight dinners look like for them.

(Image credit: Erin Alvarez)

What’s Your Dinner Strategy?

As much as I love to cook and spend time in the kitchen, I don’t necessarily want to spend a ton of time making dinner in the evenings most weekdays. Once my husband is home from work, we enjoy playing with our son, Max, taking walks, and indulging in the occasional trash TV (you know!).

Since Max was born, I’ve been feeding him the meals that I make for us (minus the occasional overly spicy dish), so he is a pretty good eater. We have some general toddler pickiness, but nothing that quick peanut butter toast can’t remedy if he absolutely refuses to eat.

Our weeknight meals are usually done in about 30 minutes or so. They tend to be lighter and healthier earlier in the week, then trend towards the more indulgent (think: pizza!) as we reach Friday. We almost always do some form of tacos, pasta, and salad at some point, but these are always different since I get bored easily with dinner. I cook as seasonally as I can, so in the spring and summer (and even fall) I grill a lot, and in the fall and winter I make a lot of slow cooker meals and soups.

Our fallback meal (and one we all love) is breakfast for dinner, so that makes an appearance every other week or so too.

(Image credit: Erin Alvarez)

A Week of Dinners from Jessica Merchant

Here are the five dinners Jessica makes for her family on an average, busy weeknight.

This is one of my most popular recipes and such a simple one to make. It’s almost always reserved for Monday or Tuesday nights, which are the busiest of the week. The salmon is so flavorful that serving it with some roasted green beans with garlic and wild rice is perfect.

We often do a clean-out-the-fridge salad one night or a salad using lots of leftovers. I love chopped salads the most because you get a taste of everything with each bite!

(Image credit: How Sweet Eats)

As you can see, we eat a lot of chicken! My husband loves chicken and I don’t mind making it because if I’m feeling like eating a vegetarian meal, I can easily just leave it out. These tacos are super easy for weeknights and can be made in a pinch.

This is one of everyone’s all-time favorite meals. It is extreme comfort food and while it’s a little heavy for the summer months, I tend to make it at least once in the summer season. We love it so much!

Is there anything better than pizza and salad? Lately, since I’m nearly 9 months pregnant, I’ve been making homemade french bread pizzas because it’s so quick. I love that you can easily customize the toppings. Our favorite side is a seasoned butter lettuce or arugula salad with some Parmesan, olive oil, and vinegar.

Thanks so much for sharing your week of dinners with us, Jessica! Want to start meal planning for your family? Here’s our handy guide.