13 Quick Dinner Hints to Get Dinner on the Table in 15 Minutes or Less

Published by Recently Empty Nested

Dinner in 15 Minutes or Less graphic

We hear you, and we concur! Dinner time can be difficult, especially on those nights you don’t have much time. With a little planning, even on those crazy, busy, a-million-and-one-places-to-be nights you can still enjoy a meal at the table together and I am about to share my secrets  with you! I give you my 13 quick dinner hints which will get dinner on your table in 15 minutes or less.

One of my best kitchen companions, and favorite hints, is my Crockpot. It is one of the best ways I know of to have dinner on the table in 15 minutes or less. I suggest you get yours out too. In fact get it out and leave it out, right there on the kitchen counter where it is accessible and ready to use. I try to plan my dinner menu for the week so that I can make one trip to the grocery store, and I also suggest this for you.  Select Crockpot/slow cooker recipes either from some of our favorites or another source.  Add any ingredients you need to purchase to your grocery list and keep it with you so that when you decide you have a few minutes to run into the store you will not have to go from memory.

Now this next part is where the real planning begins: I have used a mealtime planner, but the idea is pretty basic. Look at the recipes you have chosen to prepare in your Crockpot and decide how much of the prep can be done the night before. Chopping veggies, thawing meat, mixing marinades, etc. can all be done in only a few minutes the night before. I gather anything out of the pantry I will need and place it on the counter beside the Crockpot so that I don’t have to spend any time in the morning rounding stuff up. In fact, I am so about the PM prep work that if I have to make rice or boil some noodles to go with my Crockpot meal, I put the pot on the stove the night before. In the morning, before you head out the door, take a couple of minutes and dump it all in the crock pot according to the recipe directions and turn it on. (That seems obvious, I know, but I know people who have forgotten.)

The delicious smells that greet you when walk into the house after a long day will make the whole family get to the table as fast as they can, and all there is to do is dish it up! Sharing a meal and a few minutes together around the dinner table can rejuvenate you enough to accomplish all the things you still have to do before tucking everyone (including yourself) in for the night. I say “can” because we all know that there are some evenings we just get through it-there is no rejuvenation, just autopilot! I know, I’ve been there too.

** A little hint: paper products! On nights like these the kind of dishes you can toss means you don’t have to make time for doing dishes before heading out, or come home to them later. The landfills and Mother Nature will thank us for not using disposable dishes on a nightly basis but there are just some days that call for it!

13 Quick Dinner Hints

Hint 1: Use a slow cooker or Crockpot.

Hint 2: Do as much prep as you can the night before.

Hint 3: Buy a rotisserie chicken at your local grocery store to use in pasta dishes, tacos, salads and such.

Hint 4:  Use Angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti in your pasta dishes, as it cooks faster.

Hint 5: Only boil as much water for pasta as is required for proper cooking. The more water, the longer it takes to boil.

Hint 6: Scrub potatoes for baking and place them in the oven in the morning. Set your oven to start baking an hour before dinner. (Do not wrap them in foil since they will sit for some time before baking.)

Hint 7: Use a rice cooker and add the rice and water in the morning. Most have a timer on them you can set to be ready when you are.

Hint 8: Double your recipe and freeze half for a meal the following week.

Hint 9: If boiling chicken or browning ground beef, do extra and refrigerate part of it for use in another recipe. (If not using in the next couple of days, freeze it.)

Hint 10: Have breakfast for dinner.  Breakfast items such as eggs, pancakes and breakfast burritos cook up pretty darn quick. Even cereal is an option.

Hint 11: Set the table when the clean dishes are put away. Turning the plates and glasses upside down will keep any dust off. The table is always ready.

Hint 12: Create a weekly menu and grocery list so the planning is done. The time we spend staring blankly into the pantry trying to decide what to prepare is valuable.

Hint 13: Buying veggies for soups and other dishes already cut up (fresh or frozen) saves prep time.

Do you have time saving ideas that work for you? If so, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

photo credit: Cosmin & Sasha via photopin (license)