When Steve first started at Cooking Light in 1991, his wife, Debbie, teased, “You don’t even know how to turn on a stove.” Over the years, his repertoire has expanded (he’s an accomplished baker), but his long commute still places the family-of-five’s food duties squarely on Debbie’ s shoulders. “My wife is a saint. But by the time the weekend comes around, she’s pretty spent,” says Steve, who admits to a heavy reliance on takeout. “If I could cook a few meals on the weekend and one that we could freeze so she could have a day off during the week, that would be fantastic.”
Like many households, the Bohlinger home has two potential cooks, one of them underemployed; encouraging Steve to cook more is a way to meet this month’s goal. Steve knows his way around the kitchen; he’s just gotten a little stale. With a new arsenal of go-to techniques and some recipe inspiration, he can be a weekend cooking warrior.
- Use those baking skills! Make dough for pizzas, calzones, and savory tarts. Use a pastry crust to envelop a quiche, make a free-form caramelized onion galette, or top a chicken potpie.
- Broaden your cooking skills. Broiling, stir-frying, roasting, and sautéing are easy cooking methods to learn. And once you’ve gotten the hang of them, dinner options open up exponentially: Just swap in different meats and vegetables depending on what you like and what’s in season.
- Get saucy. So you’ve perfected the art of sautéing a chicken breast. Then what? Pair with different sauces to keep things fresh. Find recipes and learn how to make sauces.
- Don’t forget side dishes. Sides can stump the cook when it comes to dinner. Work up a set of quick, versatile sides (see our favorite side dish recipes).
- Make your own takeout. So Steve’s fallback is takeout—partially for convenience but also because the family enjoys it. Add our quick takes on takeout favorites to the recipe deck.
- Pre-mix a healthy breakfast. On the weekend, combine quick-cooking oats with sunflower seeds, dried fruit, a bit of brown sugar, or coconut. Store in an airtight container, and dole out portions on busy mornings. Add water, microwave, and voilà: superb oatmeal in no time. Get more ideas from our collection of 100-calorie oatmeal toppings.
- Make and freeze. On the weekend, cook lasagna, soup, or chili, and freeze individual portions to let Debbie take a night off during the week. See our best freezable recipes.