Molly Yeh of Girl Meets Farm Leans on These Seven Tips When She Needs to Get Dinner on the Table Fast
The mom chef, cookbook author, and Food Network personality has sensible tips for preparing delicious, healthy, and fast meals.
Sometimes—alright, a lot of the time—getting a weeknight dinner on the table is a struggle. We reached out to Molly Yeh, cookbook author, mom, and host of Girl Meets Farm and the new series Clash of the Cones on Food Network, for help. Here are her seven tips for making weeknight meals happen. Plus, a look at what you'll find on her table.
Don't Cook Every Night
That's right: Yeh says there's no reason why dinner has to be brand-new or totally from scratch every single night. "If you even just focus your energy on cooking for two or three nights of the week, there are ways to make these meals stretch for the whole week. Make big batches of soup that are even better the next day as leftovers, prep more than enough grain bowl toppings to keep in the fridge, or make doubles of anything that's freezer-friendly, like casseroles, so you can stick one in the freezer and have it later in the week," says Yeh.
Take Pleasure in Simple Dinners
"A perfectly cooked scrambled egg with good butter and flaky salt and a few chives or scallions with buttery crusty toast takes just a few staples and no advanced planning and is heavenly," Yeh says. Another family favorite? A classic spaghetti dish. "The same thing goes for pasta with marinara sauce, when it's done right, it's way more special than just an afterthought meal."
Yeh reveals that she hates meal prep "because I can rarely predict what I'm going to crave on a Tuesday if it's only Sunday!" With that being said, she does believe in some level of planning, even if it's rough. "I do appreciate the efficiency in sitting down for 15 minutes on a Sunday to do some (very flexible) planning," she says. "It eliminates loads of stress throughout the week but the key to keeping the stress level low is to keep it flexible. I usually only plan three or four dinners, max, build in meals centered around leftovers or pantry staples, and stick to ingredients that can be switched around at the last minute or morphed into something else if the craving strikes."
Be Mindful of Ingredients When Shopping
"I don't love buying too many temperamental ingredients that have to be cooked asap," Yeh says. "Nothing's more stressful to me than being pressured by the salmon's expiration date to cook it that night when all I feel like is macaroni and cheese."
Keep Essential Ingredients on Hand
Keeping your pantry and refrigerator stocked with staples makes mealtime easier. For Yeh, her go-to ingredients are "beans, grains, eggs, and lots of Organic Valley cheese because they can turn anything into a meal, whether it's bulking up a salad or even just loading up a thick slice of toast," she says.
Learn a New Recipe
If you're having trouble drumming up the excitement to prepare dinner, you might be bored of your old family favorite. When that happens, Yeh says it's time to try a fresh approach. "Choose one recipe from one cookbook and learn it. Even just learning one new recipe can open up a world of new inspiration. You might find that certain components from it can be transformed into other dishes or that a new technique can be applied in your kitchen in other ways." Yeh explains.
Get Your Kids Involved in Making Dinner
"Start off with simple tasks like pouring pre-measured ingredients or whisking sauces and then build from there. Using age-appropriate tools really helps, like mini whisks and mini offset spatulas and a toddler tower, and then also, get a really pretty broom and/or mop that you actually enjoy using because you're going to use it a lot," laughs Yeh.
What You'll Find on Molly Yeh's Weeknight Dinner Table
Among her go-to dishes are kimchi fried rice. "It's so easy to keep all of the ingredients on hand, especially in the winter when good fresh vegetables are sometimes hard to come by. Kimchi loads it up with vegetables and so much flavor. I'm always in the mood for it." Another favorite is a big salad with good cheese and homemade croutons. "Any pile of fresh vegetables instantly becomes craveable to me when it's topped with torn fresh mozzarella or loads of feta and lightly fried pita or sourdough croutons. It's an easy, balanced, satisfying dinner."
Yeh says she's also a hotdish fan. "It's a full meal in a casserole and it contains all of the food groups so (there's) no need for any sides. It's also the queen of being able to be prepped-ahead, so whenever I make hotdish I make a few to stick in the freezer." Her latest signature hot dish recipe is loaded with "a rainbow of veggies and melty cheese" as she recently partnered with Organic Valley to help parents put a fun family dinner on the table as kids get ready to head back to school.
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