For most of us, cooking dinner after a strenuous day of work sounds about as fun as a teeth cleaning. Too much time. Too much shopping. Too many dishes. The list goes on and on. But the benefits of sharing family dinners together extend far beyond just sharing a good meal, so we want to help you make family dinners happen even when you’re tight on time and energy.
What if we told you that you could put an exciting and well-balanced meal on the table using just five ingredients or less? Thanks to these hacks from creative food bloggers, this dream can become your own delicious reality.
You can never have too many chicken recipes in your arsenal, especially when they’re as easy as this light supper from Pinch of Yum. Thin, boneless chicken breasts get pan roasted on the stovetop until crispy before getting mixed with asparagus spears, whole slices of lemon and butter. As the lemons and butter caramelize from the heat, they create a natural glaze that is so flavorful you’ll think it’s been simmering away all day. Get the recipe on Pinch of Yum.
Love Thai takeout but looking to avoid all that inevitable restaurant grease? Le Crème de la Crumb came up with a speedy Thai Peanut Beef stir-fry that achieves that familiar takeout flavor by combining thinly sliced flank steak with a sauce of peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar and Sriracha. The whole dish gets a flash fry over high heat just to caramelize the beef before getting topped with chopped peanuts and green onions. Enjoy as a stand-alone dish or wrap them up in crunchy, cold lettuce leaves for fun finger food. Get the recipe on Le Crème de la Crumb.
A good fish recipe can make even a run-of-the-mill weeknight dinner feel like a special occasion. Sweet C’s Designs puts a Mediterranean spin on traditional baked fish by topping it with onion, chopped tomatoes and capers. After simmering together briefly on the stove, the whole thing gets finished off in the oven, giving the fish a sublimely flaky texture reminiscent of a fancy restaurant entrée. Get the recipe on Sweet C’s Designs.
A good pasta salad can feel like your best friend during a hectic week of work. It’s versatile, comes together in minutes and only develops more flavor the longer it sits in the refrigerator. This particular variety from Gimme Some Oven veers Italian with her Five-Ingredient Pasta Salad, combining whole-wheat penne with roasted red peppers, cubed fresh mozzarella and lots of basil pesto. Perfetto! Get the recipe on Gimme Some Oven.
Curries are ideal, no-fuss dinners, combining just a few, super-flavorful ingredients to add real punch. iFoodReal’s Green Lentil Curry enhances a traditional coconut milk and tomato base with loads of Indian spices like turmeric, curry and cumin. A “you-won’t-miss-the-meat” vegetarian dinner that pairs beautifully with rice and a generous scoop of yogurt. Get the recipe on iFoodReal.
I don’t know about you, but during the summer, my cravings for a good shrimp dish increase tenfold. This Garlic Shrimp Skillet from the Cooking Jar pulls on classic Asian flavors like minced ginger, garlic, soy sauce and honey to create a thick savory caramel glaze. Paired with quickly seared, tail-on shrimp, you’ve got a dinner that hits all five tastes in only 20 minutes of work. Get the recipe on The Cooking Jar.
This Mexican brown rice skillet has all the appeal of a taco night with much less effort and ingredients. With just a can of black beans, some freshly shucked corn, store-bought salsa, chili powder and quick-cooking rice, you’ve got a balanced bowl that can easily stand on its own or serve as a base for grilled chicken, roasted fish or even braised beef/pork. Get the recipe on Kim’s Cravings.
Scallops are synonymous with special occasions like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s. But the truth is, they’re one of the best ingredients to pull on for a speedy weeknight dinner. Damn Delicious’ Lemon Butter Scallops are seared on the stove top until golden brown before receiving a douse of lemon juice, chopped garlic and butter. Once the sauce thickens, the dish is complete and ready to eat. Get the recipe on Damn Delicious.
How to Help:
The Family Dinner Project is a nonprofit that champions family dinner as a way for families to connect through food, fun and conversation about things that matter. Based in Boston at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Psychiatry Academy, the Family Dinner Project team works with national and community organizations online and at community events to help families increase the frequency, meaning and long-term benefits of their shared meals. Learn more about their resources and partnership opportunities and donate to support their important work.
Find or Support a Local Food Bank:
The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks and food programs helps millions of people find food and grocery help in their communities every year. Find and connect with your local food bank to learn about upcoming free food distributions and to apply for national food programs. To support Feeding America’s critical work to end hunger, donate today.
Maddie LaKind is a personal chef, caterer and writer living in Ravenswood. For more information about her services, visit her website, madonfood.com.
More from Make It Better: