Forget about meal planning… Using a simple weeknight dinner formula gets dinner on the table each night quickly and without a ton of unnecessary effort!
This post was sponsored by Eat Smart as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Most weekday evenings we’re on the go and don’t sit down to eat dinner until 8:00-8:30pm. It’s either that or eat at 4:00pm before sports practices start — which seems equally ludicrous, because my kids would be starving again by the time they get home anyhow. And my husband doesn’t get home from work until around 6:00pm. So late, late dinners just make the most sense… You know how it is, right?
Needless to say, quick and easy dinners are a must. Meal planning has never worked well for me, but what HAS worked is having a basic dinner formula that I can turn to time and time again. We do eat the same things frequently, but by varying the combinations and changing it up with the season, it never feels boring.
An overview of my summer dinner formula looks something like this:
- grilled protein — burgers, chicken breasts, fish, chicken sausage, etc.
- side #1 — simple salad or fresh seasonal fruit
- side #2 — roasted veggies or some kind of grain/pasta
The beauty of a weeknight dinner formula is that, by using this sort of template, I never have to think too hard about what’s for dinner. And it makes grocery shopping pretty dang easy. We stock up on most things at Costco every week or two, and then round out our needs with a quick trip to the grocery store.
However, this also means that I’m not cooking from a lot of actual recipes most evenings. It’s more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants cooking — though often the results may eventually show up on here based on the response from my family…
Here’s what a typical dinner might look like for my family:
I just shared this balsamic grilled chicken recipe last week, but it’s been one of our dinner staples for months. It produces the juiciest, most flavorful grilled chicken breasts you can imagine, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it. We typically make more than we can eat at dinnertime, because it’s delicious over a salad the next day, as well.
There are plenty of nights where we just grill plain ole’ burgers, though. Or we might just sprinkle a little poultry seasoning on our chicken breasts before grilling. It all depends on just how late we start cooking!
Salad or Fruit Side
I’ll admit that I often take the easy road when it comes to salads by purchasing a bagged kit. Any why not when there are so many amazing salad kits available from Eat Smart?! I especially appreciate their commitment to using completely clean ingredients in their salad kits, including eliminating high fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives, and hydrogenated fats, as well as artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners.
Current Eat Smart varieties that have earned the 100% clean label are Sweet Kale, Strawberry Harvest, and Sunflower Kale, with all varieties to follow by the end of 2018. Now that’s an initiative I am totally on board with! And did I mention that all three are absolutely delicious?! #BIGthumbsup
And fresh fruit is a no brainer… There are SO many options in the summertime: berries galore, melons, peaches, etc. We never get tired of them!
Veggies or Grain/Pasta
One of my most popular recipes is this coconut lime quinoa… With just three ingredients, it’s a delicious and easy side dish option. You can make it ahead of time, and it keeps for days on end in the fridge — though it never lasts that long around here. I call it my fallback recipe, because I know I always have the ingredients on hand.
Other nights you might just find simple roasted potatoes, or asparagus, or broccoli, all with just some extra virgin olive oil + salt and pepper… See, it doesn’t have to be a full blown recipe to make a great dinner!
What do weeknight dinners look like in your home during the summer months?
Be sure to subscribe on the Eat Smart website to receive exclusive offers and their monthly e-newsletters! In addition to bagged salad kits, Eat Smart also offers Salad Shake Ups, which are individual sized salads for on the go. Try all three varieties: Avocado Ranch, Tropical Lime, and Raspberry Acai.