Here we go again.
Just as excitement for kids heading back to school starts to set in, so does the dread of the busy time of the year when homework, activities, and your work schedule blend to form a tornado of family chaos. Often, when times get hectic like this, dinner is the first thing to suffer … until now.
Stay calm, my friends. It’s easy to get a quick, healthy dinner everyone will love and enjoy if you plan a little bit ahead. I’m about to share the single greatest meal-planning tip that helps our family make meals in under 20 minutes.
That’s it. Pre-marinating when you are portioning out your meat when you bring groceries home is the single greatest meal planning time-saver I have ever discovered. Buy steaks, pork, chicken, or whatever in bulk. When you’re portioning meat out into your freezer bags, pour in your marinade or spice rub, and toss it in the freezer. Your meat gets a little flavor action as it freezes but gets most of it as it defrosts before you cook it.
On your busy meal day, pull your package out of the freezer in the morning, leave it in the fridge to thaw during the day, and it will marinate away. When you come home, you’re ready to go with a marinated, flavorful meat to grill or fry at dinnertime.
Recap: Buy a big bulk family pack of meat. Portion it out when you come after the groceries. Marinate it. Thaw when you need it.
My freezer is filled with teriyaki, BBQ sauce, spicy chipotle, hot sauce, tequila lime, jerk-rubbed meats and more.
I do the same with ground beef, chicken, and pork as well. I buy a big tray of meat, and package it in “one family dinner” size bags. They’re all sitting in my freezer, and, if you forget to pull it out in the morning, it’s dead-easy to thaw within minutes in a sink of water.
For an even easier solution on a hectic night, as you’re grilling the meat portions, have the kids chop and grate the ingredients you need for your Mexican fiesta. Tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, green onion, and jalapeno are really all you need. And they’re things you already have in your fridge.
Simply heat up some soft tortillas or hard shells, or, for something unique, these new standing soft taco shells, for a few minutes in the oven! Serve it all on the table buffet-style, and you’ll be off to drop the kids off at basketball on the way to yoga or the PTA meeting.