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How to Put Meals on the Table Fast

In the time it takes to wait for take out, you can have a delicious dinner on the table. You just have to be a little organized.


  • Step 1: Plan ahead Plan a week’s worth of meals in advance so you don’t waste time staring into the fridge, wondering what to cook.
  • Step 2: Rely on frozen vegetables Rely on frozen vegetables. Because they’re flash frozen as soon as they’re picked, they’re usually just as fresh, or even fresher, than non-frozen.
  • Step 3: Cook in batches Always cook in batches. It’s just as easy to roast two chickens as it is one – or three for that matter.
  • TIP: Start a meal exchange with friends: Each person makes several batches of a main course, and then swaps with each other. Everyone ends up with several meals for just one cooking session.
  • Step 4: Do prep work Do prep work in advance, like boiling a whole bag of rice that can be reheated in portions later in the week, or cooking a big batch of potatoes that can be served scalloped one night and made into home fries on another.
  • Step 5: Get kids involved If you have kids, get them involved in prep work, like washing and spinning greens for salad, and setting the table.
  • TIP: Kids who help make a meal are more likely to eat it, even if it’s something they don’t like.
  • Step 6: Think in threes Think in threes when you cook, as in how you can get three meals out of one main course. A ham dinner one night might be ham paninis two nights later, and the scraps can be thrown into a hearty bean soup or vegetable-heavy stir-fry that you freeze for another time.
  • FACT: The average American cooks and eats a frozen packaged dinner about six times per month.

You Will Need

  • Meal plans
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Advance preparation
  • Meal exchange (optional)

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