Chef, Entrepreneur, and Mom Carrie Morey Shares How She Stays on Top of Preparing Weeknight Dinners
Sunday suppers at Carrie Morey's house are an event. She has family friends over, makes homemade pasta, and even mixes up cocktails before dinner. "Sunday is my favorite day to cook," she says. As for preparing dinner on a weeknight? That's an entirely different story.
Morey is a chef, entrepreneur (the founder of Callie's Hot Little Biscuit), and a mom to three teenage daughters. One of her main strategies for staying on top of weeknight dinners is planning menus on the weekend. On most Sundays, she writes down the meals she's thinking of making on a sticky note and posts it somewhere in the house as a rough guide. "Inevitably something changes, but I like that it gives me something to focus on," she says. Vegetable fajitas were on her list for dinner the night before we chatted, but she ended up switching to pizza because of timing. Morey keeps several frozen pizza crusts in her freezer for exactly this purpose. Even if she doesn't end up making everything on the list, she finds comfort in having a guide, especially when she's shopping for groceries.
Ahead, she shares more of her best advice that you can bring into your own home.
Prep Time and Team Work
For weeknight dinners that take longer to prepare, Morey takes care of the prep work in the mornings and puts her kids to work in the afternoon. "In the morning when my husband and I are having coffee and getting everybody off to school, I might do some prep before I go to work," she says. "That way, all I have to do when I get home is pull it out. My girls are well-versed in the kitchen, so I do the prep and ask them to preheat the oven or make a vinaigrette when I'm headed home. They're really good sous-chefs and great at helping me out."
On the nights when not everyone in the family is sitting down to eat dinner at the same time, Morey will keep some extra food warming up for later. For soups and stews, which get better the longer they sit and simmer, she starts cooking the morning of, or even a few nights in advance, while she's cooking something else.
Morey's new book, Hot Little Suppers: Simple Recipes to Feed Family and Friends ($31.49, amazon.com), is filled with recipes for easy to prepare weeknight meals. Some of her favorites include Salmon Salad (with butter lettuce, seared potato slices, sliced avocado, and pepitas—all ingredients Morey always has on hand); Mediterranean Shrimp Orzo (a one-pot recipe passed down from her mom, which can be served as either a dip or a main dish); and Couscous with Scallops. Morey recommends adding raw and roasted vegetables to her recipe for added flavor and texture.
One of Morey's daughters has recently adopted a plant-based vegan diet. Since then, Morey has added more vegetable sides to her weeknight dinner spreads. "I just make more vegetables," Morey said. "I make sure that instead of having two sides I have three, and I'll bulk up the meal with a starch like rice so I know she has plenty to eat." Morey adds things like currants, almonds, and herbs to rice to amp up the flavor.
At the end of the day, sitting down with her family to have a meal is the ultimate goal. Whether that meal is a stew that's been cooking for hours or a salad whipped up in a few minutes is secondary. "Our goal is to sit down and reconnect, to ground ourselves, and celebrate the day's successes with each other," says Morey.
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