Simple Weeknight Suppers

Let’s face it: sometimes, dinnertime can seem daunting. However, with the right staples and strategy, a delicious home-cooked meal can be just 30 minutes away. Here, Sarah Nycum, owner of the Charlottesville-based family meal delivery service Nycum Company, shares 5 easy weeknight meals, plus a list of items to have on hand to ensure that you’ll be full and satisfied—even when pressed for time or short on ingredients.

Recipes for success: Often on busy weeknights, time is not on our side. Nycum recommends adding the following meals, which can be prepared in under 30 minutes, to your repertoire:

  • Homemade Flatbread Pizza. Use naan or tortilla as the base, then simply add marinara sauce, shredded cheese, spinach, mini pepperonis, olives, sautéed papers, onions, or any of your favorite toppings. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until cheese is melted. “This can also be a quick afternoon snack—have the child(ren) help make their own,” Nycum says.
  • Baked Salmon and Roasted Carrots. Place salmon and carrots on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper, and bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
  • Shrimp and Grits. Prepare grits according to package directions. Cook shrimp into pink, then combine with grits, cheddar cheese, and butter in a large sauce pan. Add cooked bacon to take the dish to the next level. “If there are any leftovers, serve this for breakfast alongside eggs the next day,” Nycum says.
  • One-Pan Tuscan Chicken Tortellini. Nycum suggests using this recipe for a flavorful one-dish meal that makes for a quick clean-up. “You can also eliminate the chicken to make this a vegetarian dish,” she notes.
  • Breakfast for Dinner. “Breakfast items are generally quicker to prepare, plus, kids will love this idea,” Nycum says. Try whipping up omelets, a frittata, pancakes, or even French toast (though you might want to go easy on the sugar). 

Key ingredients: Nycum recommends having the following items on hand so you can always whip up something tasty and nutritions on any given night. 

  • Fruit (apples, pears, grapes), cheese (havarti, goat, cheddar), and crackers. In addition to being versatile ingredients, having these items ensures you’ll have appetizers at the ready, which Nycum says is essential. “This will give you a few extra minutes if you need a little more time to work on dinner,” she advises.
  • Eggs. A great source of protein that can be incorporated into an omelet (see “Breakfast for Dinner,” above), salad, or sandwich.
  • Beans (white northern beans, black beans, chickpeas). These are another great source of protein and fiber that can instantly boost a salsa or salad. “Add a little olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon, and fresh Parmesan, and you have a meal in itself!” Nycum says.
  • Spinach. Nycum recommends keeping frozen spinach on hand for spinach artichoke dip, stuffed mushrooms, chicken, and pasta dishes. 
  • Quinoa. “This is the fastest-cooking grain,” Nycum says. It’s also packed with protein and can be incorporated into breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil and honey. These kitchen staples are essential for roasting, dressing, and drizzling.
  • Dark chocolate and wine. While they won’t make for a well-rounded plate, these two ingredients can make any evening feel a little decadent.

Enlist an expert. Sometimes life is just too chaotic to whip up a home-cooked meal—regardless of how simple. In these cases, find a local catering service like Nycum Company that will create and deliver a delicious meal for your family. The only ingredient you’ll need is your cell phone.

TSG Tip 175 from Sarah Nycum, owner of Nycum Company based in Charlottesville, Virginia.