We could call dinner-time resourcefulness the act of placing tonight’s take-out order from the one subway stop with reliable cell phone service in order to time your homecoming with your spicy salmon roll and miso soup’s arrival.
Or we could, you know, step it up a notch and embrace the home-cooking version of ultimate efficiency.
It’s a simple step: Start something.
As soon as you’ve walked in the door, but before you’ve changed into sweats, checked your email to see what you missed during your commute, or collapsed on the couch, do one easy thing to get dinner going. It should be a task you can then step away from, because once you’ve started your thing, you’re going to take a break. Now is when you shed your work outfit, greet your roommates or significant other, and rifle through the pantry for inspiration. After that is when you’ll make the rest of dinner, which isn’t so hard anymore, because you’re already halfway there.
Here are four things you can start the second you’re home, long before you lose motivation.
Boil some water. Fill a big pot, cover it, and place it on the stove. This is for pasta, most likely, but maybe it’s for the potatoes you discovered in the bottom of the vegetable drawer, or even for poached eggs. You can also make rice and quinoa this way if it fits in better with the rest of your meal.
Sauté onions. Set a skillet over medium low heat. Chop or even slice an onion. Pour in some oil and add the onions. Mix once to coat the onions. Adjust the heat to low so they don’t burn while you’re going other stuff. When you come back, you could add tomatoes for sauce, beans for refried beans, or vegetables and eggs for a Persian omelet.
Turn on the oven (& roast some chicken). Turn on the oven to 425°F. While it preheats, change your clothes. You can put anything in there (roasted vegetables with pomegranate vinaigrette, maybe?), but I especially recommend selecting two skin-on chicken breasts, patting them dry, placing them on a baking sheet, drizzling them with olive oil, and sprinkling well with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, til the chicken’s cooked through and the skin is crispy. Serve with rice or bread and a simple sauté or salad.
Cook rice. What’s not good on top of rice? Curry, stir-fry, black beans: you name a simple dish, and I bet I’ll love it with rice. To make: rinse the rice til the water runs clean, then combine with water as per package directions. When the pot boils, turn the heat to low, set a timer, and be off on your business (of relaxing and/or cooking the rest of dinner).