How to Save Time on Dinner During Busy Weeknights

How to Save Time on Dinner During Busy Weeknights @Sophistishe

This post written by our contributor, Racquel Schroder Bregg is sponsored by Idahoan. Thanks for supporting our site partners!

Life is crazy and busy. This is nothing new really, with 2 kids in school & extracurricular activities and 3 toddlers. However, I’m learning an all new kind of crazy and busy now that our daughter is in middle school sports. She has practice or a game five nights a week and our son is playing soccer with a game at least one night a week. They also have homework and play instruments in band and they want to go to the high school football games too. Then there is youth group on Sundays and going to see grandparents and…the list goes on and on not to mention how busy the three little boys are just being boys. Dinner time needs to be easy a lot of nights and I need good foods that will make my life easier and save me time. These tips for saving time on dinner during busy weeknights make my crazy, busy days seem much more manageable.

Use a Slow Cooker

The slow cooker can save you so much time!  Whether you’re home all day or gone, the slow cooker can be working all day while you are busy doing other things.  Putting whole meals in the slow cooker in the morning while the kids are getting ready for school or before you leave for the day is a great way to save time.  You can also prep meals in advance and freeze them so all you have to do is drop them in the slow cooker and turn them on in the morning.

One of my favorite things to make in the slow cooker is a whole chicken.  It’s easy and it’s also a really inexpensive meat.  Whole chickens can often be picked up for less than $1 per pound. To cook it in the slow cooker rinse it, coat it with coconut oil and your favorite spices, and place it in the slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours.  No need to add any liquid or anything! When you’re ready to eat, serve it with your favorite sides for an easy and fast meal.  That brings me to my next time saving tip…

Keep Easy to Prepare Sides on Hand

Everyone loves homemade mashed potatoes or fresh green beans slow cooked.  The truth is though that these things take time to prepare and there are products available that can save you time without sacrificing taste or nutrition.  We will buy frozen veggies when they are on sale and steam them for dinner lots of nights or when we have time we like to buy fresh and freeze our own. However, when it comes to potatoes, our only substitute for homemade is Idahoan Signature Russets. No one ever suspects I didn’t make these from scratch!


Unlike homemade mashed potatoes, these are ready in minutes. So when my slow cooker chicken is ready and I walk in the door from a busy day, I can quickly toss frozen veggies in my microwave steamer, boil water and have great tasting mashed potatoes on the table with the rest of dinner in less than 10 minutes! That is a quick and easy weeknight dinner for our family of 7.

The Idahoan Signature Russets come in 3 different size pouches – enough to serve 4, 12, or 20. They can be cooked with milk and butter or with just water and once your water has boiled are ready in just 1 minute. They are so easy to prep that we not only make them as a side but my older kids enjoy them as a snack sometimes and can make prepare them easily. You can pick up these re-sealable pouches at your local Walmart and Kroger stores.


Prep Ahead

Whether it’s buying fresh veggies when they are on sale and cleaning, cutting, and freezing them to have on hand for the weeks and months ahead or prepping full meals, prepping ahead is a huge time saver.  You can buy ground beef in large packages and brown it in large batches, seasoning it for different dishes and freezing it in individual packages for chili, tacos, spaghetti and other meals throughout the month.  This makes meal prep those nights go so much faster.  This is also a money saver as you can often find better deals on bigger packages of meats or buy produce and other foods when they are nearing the end of their shelf life.

Use Leftovers

When we make slow cooker chicken there is always enough left over to make soup one night too.  When we make chili there is usually some left over and we add noodles to make a chili-mac or what my family call goulash.  Leftovers mean quick and easy dinner night.  Sometimes there isn’t enough of one leftover for all of us but there are several things and we have “leftover night” where everyone picks their favorite.  This is a great way to make sure food gets eaten and not thrown away!  It’s also about the quickest way to feed everyone.

mashed potatoes and gravy

What are some of your favorite tips for saving time on dinner during busy weeknights?

To support my blogging efforts and site expenses, I do share relevant affiliate links in my posts. Thank you for your support.

Racquel Schroder Bregg

Racquel is a stay at home mom with an extensive background in interior home design. She loves baking & creating beautifully decorated treats, cooking new and unique recipes for the whole family, designing and decorating on a budget with upcycled projects, and making kid and grown-up crafts.

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  • Christina Aliperti October 10, 2016 at 2:03 AM

    I love my slow cooker for busy days. I would also like to invest in a really good pressure cooker.

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  • adriana October 9, 2016 at 7:46 PM

    I love this! Using the Crockpot is the BEST, especially this time of year! It’s so easy to get something cooking in the morning and you don’t have to worry about it throughout the day – plus is makes the house smell SO good! I love Idahoan too, so quick and easy and yummy!

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  • Ima October 8, 2016 at 4:39 PM

    Preparing meals down and simply having to warm it up again helps plenty, especially on busy days.
    Plus leftovers can be such time savers and convinent too!

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  • shalama October 7, 2016 at 8:25 AM

    I love these ideas. I do many of them already and they are a great time saver.

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  • Kelly Reci October 6, 2016 at 9:17 PM

    I never thought of some of these ideas. Really saves money especially if I don’t have much time to cook.

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  • Nicole Etolen October 6, 2016 at 9:15 PM

    It is nice to know about these. Sometimes when I am really busy, I tend do have our food delivered at our home.

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  • Ourfamilyworld October 6, 2016 at 9:14 PM

    Leftovers are really money savers. These are all great ideas.

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  • traceykinohio October 6, 2016 at 6:05 PM

    My slow cooker is my best friend!!! 🙂

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  • Akhil Sharma October 6, 2016 at 3:59 PM

    Great tips especially using the leftovers and utilizing a slow cookers. Let me try and figure out how much I could save time on dinner.

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  • Ave October 6, 2016 at 3:20 PM

    These are really great tips! I can’t wait for my new slow cooker to arrives, so I can start trying new recipes again! Those mashed potatoes look really delicious!

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  • Kathy October 6, 2016 at 10:00 AM

    I love Idahoan potatoes. They always taste great. I love these pouches for a quick meal.

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  • victoria October 6, 2016 at 3:31 AM

    Such a helpful post! I would love to start meal planning. Glad you share this

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  • Elizabeth O. October 5, 2016 at 9:34 PM

    I like planning my meals so that I’ll have more time to prepare dinner because I already know what I’m cooking for that day. Aside from that little hacks and tricks won’t hurt! I would love to try that brand of mashed potatoes! It looks great!

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  • MarciaF October 5, 2016 at 8:20 PM

    Growing up one of my sons wouldn’t eat homemade mashed potatoes and I hated the box kind. This would have solved the problem.

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  • Cindy Ingalls October 5, 2016 at 4:41 PM

    I’ve started planning out my meals for the week and it seems to help. I try to mix up easy with more intense so I can ensure on my busiest of nights I’m not spending forever in the kitchen. I also make like to make food that will have leftovers I can use for lunch or another night during the week.

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