5 Strategies to Make Dinner Easier & a Giveaway

September 24, 2015 , In: Family Friendly Meal, Recipes , With: 27 Comments
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Dinner Ideas | RoastedMontreal.com

I don’t know about you but I feel like half the time I’m at home I’m in the kitchen in a relentless cycle of dinners, breakfasts and cleaning.  Chopping the veg, wiping the floor, peeling the carrots.  Over and over and over. and over.  endlessly.

Unless we get all our meals catered (and even then I’d still be wiping the floor) this cycle isn’t going to change soon.  But I have a few strategies to make life easier.

Dinner Ideas | RoastedMontreal.com

Strategy 1: Invest in a couple pieces of smart gear.

Most readers probably already have the basic gear but I’m always interested in those things that save a few steps in the prep or cleaning stage.  Here are my three must-haves that save me time either before or after mealtime.

Joseph Joseph Catcher, Citrus ReamerI love my Joseph Joseph Citrus Reamer.  It catches ALL of the seeds which makes juicing lemons such a breeze.  I could never go back to a regular citrus reamer.  Never fish for seeds again.

OXO Good Grips Mini Angled Measuring Cup

When a recipe asks for 3 tbsp, instead of measuring each individually, easily measure in this mini measuring cup.  Salad dressing and marinades are made in an instant with only one cup to clean.  

Mermaid Shallow Roaster

You’d be surprised how often you just need this small roaster – asparagus, broccoli, two chicken breasts, nuts… It’s just so handy and the small size means it’s so much less cumbersome to clean up.  It’s ah-ma-zing.

 

Strategy 2: Purchase some flavour boosters to turn blah to wow.

I don’t TRULY follow a recipe and I bet (hope) you don’t too.  So many times the amount of spices and herbs a recipe asks for is way too little.  Please people, taste as you go and don’t be afraid to add more spices and herbs.  Personally, I am a huge fan of the Epicure line of spices and spice mixes.  They are really creative and really make my meals taste so much better.  I am pretty liberal with them and am not afraid to use them for all sorts of recipes.

It’s just those little things on hand that really help so much.  You make a dish, you taste it, you think – oh this kind of sucks – and then you throw in a Marinara mix or Poutine flavouring and it tastes a million times better.  It’s so easy and so simple to have on hand.  Plus if you are panicking about what to make, they practically scream out at you with ideas.

Here are some of my favourites:

Marinara  (Pump up a can of tomatoes, or add to pretty  much anything (chicken pot pie, lasagna) for a boost)

Chicken Bouillon Base  (I throw this in everything – chicken bouillon is my secret weapon.  It makes ANYTHING taste better.)

Teriyaki (this makes the BEST stir fry or just use it to marinate meat or veg)

Pizza Seasoning (Friday night is our pizza night.  It’s a no brainer easy meal everyone likes.  Step it up with this seasoning or throw on anything else including potatoes)

Fajita (Meat? Tortillas?  Some peppers or tomatoes?  Dinner is DONE and so much nicer than from the yellow packets.  Plus it can be used in quesadillas, a mexican-y casserole or chilli)

Good Greek Real Fast which includes Souvlaki (amazing chicken – this is one of Alex’s faves), Lemon Dilly Dip (you can use in place of dill which my supermarket never has in stock) and Greek Dressing Mix (a fab marinade or in greek salad)

Toasted Onion (I’ve all but quit chopping onion, I just hate the added step, so I use this instead)

Cheese, Chive & Bacon Dip (I used this in everything – mash potatoes, creamy pasta, macaroni and cheese… so good)

Gravy (just like the Chicken Bouillon Base this is my secret weapon for a flavour boost.  Perfect in stews, or even on a roast)

Pizza Oven Fries (boost regular old potatoes – and it feels like such a treat)

Poutine Chip Seasoning (I throw this in everything just like the Cheese, Chive & Bacon Dip)

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing Mix (this saved my pasta salads all summer)

Dinner Ideas | RoastedMontreal.com

Strategy 3: Prep Ahead

I love doing tasks in bulk and getting them out of the way.  My freezer is my saviour and I like to prep ahead and freeze for future use.  I also like to get as many veggies in my kids as possible.  My strategy?  Blitz and freeze veggies like carrots, onions, zucchini, celery and leek.  Then, when I’m making my pasta sauce/chicken pot pie/stew I simply pop in a few frozen cubes of already-puréed veg and I’m ready to go.  I always use my Perfect Petites for freezing.  It’s definitely the easiest product I’ve found for getting the frozen food out.

Dinner Ideas | RoastedMontreal.com

Strategy 4: Plan Ahead

Think about what you want to make for the following week, write it down and shop for it.  Here’s my tips for meal planning.  There’s nothing I hate more than getting half way through a recipe and realizing I’m missing a key ingredient.  Blech.

 

Dinner Ideas | RoastedMontreal.com

Strategy 5: Stick with old faves and try something new

Sunday mornings are pancake day around here.  Friday night tends to be pizza.  I look forward to these nights because they are a no brainer for me.  I know everyone is going to like them and they are easy for me to make.  But I always like to try something new and sometimes I get surprised.  Plus making the same thing every week leaves me bored.  My strategy?  When I try something new I make sure there is at least something my kid likes to eat on the plate.

Epicure has kindly agreed to giveaway all products listed in this blog post which is a $150 value!  The contest is now closed and the winner has been notified.

    • Neisha
    • September 24, 2015
    Reply

    I could use any help i can get…i have almost resigned from cooking altogether many times for my two overly critical toddlers!

      • neisha
      • September 24, 2015
      Reply

      Pizza oven fries – win win.

    • Jessica
    • September 24, 2015
    Reply

    Good Greek sounds amazing!
    I try and keep a running list of meals my family likes and things I want to try. That way I’m not short on ideas.

    • Cristina
    • September 24, 2015
    Reply

    I would definitely be interested in the marinara mix. Any kind of pasta is the easiest to make and I would add some sausages or ground beef for some protein. My crackpot is my best friend who pretty much makes suppers for us 🙂

      • Cristina
      • September 24, 2015
      Reply

      I mean to write crockpot. Spell check sigh……

    • Tammy
    • September 24, 2015
    Reply

    The cheese chive and bacon and the guacamole dip mixes are my favourite in scrambled eggs!

    • Alison
    • September 24, 2015
    Reply

    I love using my epicure steamers for quick steamed veggie sides, either seasoned with a seasoning or topped with a finishing sauce!

    • Gina Brock
    • September 24, 2015
    Reply

    I’m intrigued by the possibilties of using Epicure products. Greay article and I hope I win and get to try Epicure.

    • Linda
    • September 24, 2015
    Reply

    I love all of Epicure products and use them in everything I make everyday, love love love all of it. Teriyaki and pizza are a couple of favs

    • SUMMER PLEWES
    • September 24, 2015
    Reply

    I am super eager to try the poutine seasoning! There a a lot of good items you listed above!

    • Mark V
    • September 24, 2015
    Reply

    Darn tough choice but I think cheese, chive and bacon dip might be my favourite

    • Julie Ehrlich
    • September 24, 2015
    Reply

    The Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing Mix is my favourite product.

    • Shawna
    • September 24, 2015
    Reply

    I’m sure fajita would be a winner around here!

    • Samara
    • September 24, 2015
    Reply

    I am an Epicure virgin! Everything you mention in the article from there looks great. As I am making baby food for my 6 month old, I especially love the look of those ice cube trays. Also- the thought of instant Greek salad with my boundless cucumbers and tomatoes sounds very appealing!

    • Mary
    • September 25, 2015
    Reply

    Yes for pizza Friday nights! And how useful the Joseph Joseph Citrus Reamer.

    • Linda L
    • September 25, 2015
    Reply

    I have tried many products but would love to try the Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing Mix!! Been trying to eat better with more salad’s and I think I would love this dressing! Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Connie
    • September 25, 2015
    Reply

    I love your article. Sounds just like me 🙂 Love my epicure spices but never thought of the perfect petites for freezing! BANG! next best idea :). I haven’t tried the gravy mix, but it sounds like it should join my kitchen line up.

  1. Reply

    I love all spices ESP marinara spice , chicken broth is great for anything you make!! I have large variety of epicure spices !

    • Geri
    • September 25, 2015
    Reply

    I love a number of Epicure products, but some of my favourites are Souvlaki, Marinara and the Balsamic Dressing. I really like your tips for using some of the other Epicure products. Can’t wait to try them out!

    • Stephanie
    • September 25, 2015
    Reply

    I would be curious to try the poutine seasoning! These all sound amazing 🙂

    • Trina
    • September 25, 2015
    Reply

    I love the Balsamic Dressing. I use it in so many things and I really like to change it up by using different flavours of Vinegar! Great article 🙂

    • Melissa Arriola
    • September 25, 2015
    Reply

    My kids love epicure! My 10 year old has even started helping me, our favorite is using the Greek seasoning on steak with the souvlaki as a dip for our veggies and the lemon dilly on our wedge fries- so good as well as so fast!

    • Margo
    • September 25, 2015
    Reply

    I’m literally terrified of my spice cupboard. Bags and spices with the ink rubbed off so I have no idea of what’s what. A million different shaped bottles so nothing is stackable. I’ve never heard if Epicure but love the sound of the variety and the ease.
    Great topic to post on! An old wives tale I’m sure but heard that babies are often cranky around dinner (witching hour) because in utero they feel the stress women feel when it comes to making dinner. Kind of funny.

    • Margo
    • September 25, 2015
    Reply

    Forgot to say that toasted onion sounds like a bit of game changer for me.

    • Michelle
    • September 28, 2015
    Reply

    I just tried the an Epicure product for the first time this weekend. It was the cheese, chive and bacon dip. It was great. Certainly makes me want to buy more product.

    • Annie
    • September 29, 2015
    Reply

    Never tried the Epicure products before so thanks for the tip! I would love to try them all, but toasted onion would definitely be the first one I would try!!

    • Kelley
    • September 29, 2015
    Reply

    I just tried the epicure butter chicken – definitely a time saver! I think the poutine seasoning would be delish!

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Michelle Little

Writer & Photographer

Originally from the prairies and now in Montreal, I love exploring new places, eating great food and modern design. I'm mom of two wild things and paper and cake make me happy. Photographing your cutie family would make me very happy.

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