Easy dinner hacks for busy evenings

Easy dinner hacks for busy weekday evenings {Heather's Handmade Life}

We’re a month into our new school-year routine, and it’s different than previous years because C and D now each have TWO after-school activities. (We used to always stick to one but, well, I guess those days are over?)

Luckily, our busy-ness is pretty much condensed into two days: Tuesday and Wednesdays. These are the two days we have activities — gymnastics, Lyrical, taekwondo — happening in the 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. window, which is a bummer for a family  (er, especially the mother) that LIVES for eating dinner at 5 p.m. sharp.

I’ve overheard other parents walking out of these activities musing “Hmm, what should we have for dinner?” I almost laughed out loud, I was so surprised! We just aren’t a family that can just wait and make + eat dinner when everyone’s back at home at 6:45. That’s late, yo! But we also can’t eat dinner at 4 p.m. and be done with it, because then they’re starving when we get home.

My solution has been to basically cook dinner during the afternoon (or even the morning) and have it ready so we can eat something quickly before leaving for the activities, and then eat a little more of it once we’re back at home. This is easy with something in the slowcooker — pasta with meat sauce, Sloppy Joe meat, meatballs, etc. — but I’ve discovered a new way to serve one of our favourites (Mexican) in a split-shift fashion.

Ready for a two-part hack I’ve been loving lately?

PART 1: Cook + freeze ground beef as soon as you buy it.

Some people think this is gross and you’re not getting the full flavour of the meat or whatever, but I’d rather something was easy than over-the-top tasty. *shrugs*

I HATE trying to peel the styrofoam off a hunk of frozen ground beef and stand at the stove for ages as it thaws and cooks. So we buy ground beef and unless we’re turning it into hamburgers or meatballs within a day or two, I will immediately brown it, fully cook it, and divide it into large freezer bags. 

Easy dinner hacks for busy weekday evenings {Heather's Handmade Life}

Easy dinner hacks for busy weekday evenings {Heather's Handmade Life}
I just dump a package of taco seasoning in, and usually some salsa, too.

It’s so much easier to deal with! Whether we’re making tacos (or something else Mexican, which is usually the case) or pasta sauce or Sloppy Joes, we can toss a frozen brick of pre-cooked ground beef into the slowcooker, add some spices/sauce/whatever, and walk away from that shiz. #cookingsucks

PART 2: Premake quesadillas/soft tacos and stick ’em in the fridge!

I just started doing this in the last month, and I’ve done it every single week because it’s SO EASY. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. I cook up the ground beef (either from fresh, or from the slowcooker), spread out a bunch of tortillas on the counter, add a scoop of meat, some cheese, some salsa (and jalepenos on the ones for me + Darling Husband) and …

Easy dinner hacks for busy weekday evenings {Heather's Handmade Life}

Boom! Instant pile of quesadillas, ready to go! They stack up nicely and fit into my big plastic containers … Easy dinner hacks for busy weekday evenings {Heather's Handmade Life}

If I’m short on tortillas, I’ll just roll them up into tubes and call them soft tacos. I mean, really, what is the difference? Soft tacos are just rolled-up quesadillas, essentially. At least they are how *I* make them.Easy dinner hacks for busy weekday evenings {Heather's Handmade Life}

Before or after an activity when someone needs to eat quickly, we just grab one of them and microwave it for a minute or so to melt the cheese. Sometimes the kids will just eat them like that, but I prefer to then toss mine into a frying pan to crisp it up a little. It’s still very fast.

Sometimes I make so many that we have more left in the container for the next day! Woohooooo!
Easy dinner hacks for busy weekday evenings {Heather's Handmade Life}

I made these yesterday (Wednesday) and there was one left, which I *just now* ate for breakfast. How’s that for real-time blogging? 😉

Easy dinner hacks for busy weekday evenings {Heather's Handmade Life}
Mmmmmm

2 Comments on “Easy dinner hacks for busy evenings

    • I’m all about doing as much as I can in advance, and I’ll happily eat the same meal over and over if it means it’s easy. 😉

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