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Quick and Easy Dinner Tips

One-Pot Taco Pasta

Get recipe: One-Pot Taco Pasta

If there’s anything we can all use, it’s quick and easy dinner tips for busy cooks. Because let’s face it: We’re all busy cooks. Slow-cooker recipes are a start, but we have other ideas for easy dinner recipes. Take our 1 bag, 5 dinners concept: recipes and a shopping list that includes everything you need, all in one place. Quick and easy tips include ideas for storing, freezing, prepping and organizing. Take time to read how now, and you’ll save you time down the road.

Prep it Ahead

  • Cut boneless skinless chicken breasts into bite-size pieces, then freeze in 1-lb. quantities in resealable freezerweight bags so they’re ready to use in your favorite recipes.
  • If you use browned ground beef frequently, save time by cooking it in advance. If ground beef is refrigerated promptly after cooking, it can be safely refrigerated up to 3 to 4 days, or frozen up to 3 months. Never partially cook ground beef for later use -it should be fully cooked to destroy any bacteria.
  • Purchasing a fully-cooked rotisserie chicken at the supermarket is a quick way to obtain cooked chicken for recipe use.
  • Purchase ready-to-use cut-up vegetables from the salad bar of your grocery store to use to quickly assemble salads or side dishes. Many fruits and vegetables are also now available already sliced, chopped and washed in the produce section.

Stay Organized

  • To keep track of exactly what's in your freezer, attach a running inventory list to the freezer door. Add and cross out items on the list as they are stored or removed for at-a-glance meal planning.
  • Watch our Meat & Fish Storage video for great tips on the safe handling of these proteins.
  • Prepare a standard grocery list for items you want to keep on hand, such as kitchen staples like bread, milk, and vegetables, as well as other commonly use foods, such as pasta, cheeses, meats and baking needs. When you use up the last of an item, just circle it on your list so it’s ready for the next grocery trip.
  • Organize the food in your refrigerator so you can easily see everything that’s there, preventing you from purchasing foods you already have but just didn’t know they were there! Also, remember to organize the food in your cabinets and frequently check expiration dates for outdated ingredients.

Make it Easier

  • Slow cookers let you put everything together in the morning and arrive to a perfectly cooked recipe later in the day. Check out our slow-cooker recipes for some great-tasting ideas.
  • Plan a day or weekend to do a lot of cooking, then freeze the prepared dishes for enjoyment throughout the week. To help get you started, check out our list of fabulous recipes in our Prep & Freeze section.
  • Enlist friends and family to help out. Create a family night when everyone works together in the kitchen to help prepare the meal. Or, plan a potluck with your neighbors and friends, asking everyone to prepare and share their favorite recipes.