Getting dinner on the table on busy weeknights is a challenge no matter who you are — yes, even if you're an editor for a food website! Here at Kitchn, we struggle just as much as everyone else does to churn out dinner when our schedules are stacked.
There are a handful of things that help us, though. A little foresight or a bit of assistance can make all the difference when dinner seems impossible. Here are seven simple tricks our editors rely on to get dinner on the table on busy nights.
1. Meal prep — even if it's just a little!
"Even if I do no other meal prep, I always chop a few onions before the week begins. That way I can toss some onion into a pan to sauté while I figure out what comes next." —Patty Catalano, Contributor
2. Take a minute to pull out everything you need before you start cooking.
"Take a minute or so to take everything you need, including equipment, out of the fridge and pantry before you start cooking. It makes a big difference not to have to run around pulling stuff out — especially if your hands are dirty!" —Christine Gallary, Food Editor-at-Large
3. Don't be afraid to lean on shortcuts.
"I like to have at least one shortcut ingredient! It could be frozen brown rice from Trader Joe's, a jar of tomato sauce, or a can of beans. Making dinner is way less daunting when I know not everything needs to be made from scratch." —Lauren Masur, Staff Writer
4. Let everyone chip in.
"Everyone in my apartment chips in! Whoever isn't cooking takes the dog for a pre-dinner walk, and someone else sets the table and grabs waters for everyone. That way when the food is ready, we're ready to eat." —Grace Elkus, Senior Food Editor
5. Embrace reminders and alarms on your cell phone.
"Set reminders and alarms on your phone to do things like defrost food, heat the oven, etc. You can now even label alarms on the iPhone so when it pops up you know what it's for!" —Christine Gallary, Food Editor-at-Large
6. Always keep a loaf of good bread within reach.
"Always have a loaf of sourdough on hand — even if that means a few slices in the freezer. I can almost always scrounge up something to pile on top of a slice to call it a meal. Everything from ricotta and roasted veggies (roasted from frozen, mind you) to even a thick slather of almond butter on bread feels like a meal." —Hali Bey Ramdene, Food Director
7. When all else fails, opt for breakfast for dinner or your favorite takeout spot's lunch special.
"We lean on breakfast for dinner to make things easier — or we pick up a lunch special at one of our favorite takeout restaurants and reheat it later that night for dinner." —Lisa Freedman, Lifestyle Director
What are some of your simple tricks for getting dinner on the table?