Between homework, football practice, band and other after-school activities, it can be difficult to put dinner on the table each night. Many parents may feel like they don’t have time to make a delicious, healthy meal on a school night.

But it’s not an impossible mission.

Here are some great tips from Family Features to make meal preparation easier:

Stock up

Always keep some basic ingredients on hand to make last-minute cooking a lot easier.

Frozen vegetables — Can be served as a side or added to soups and rice dishes.

Broth — Beef, chicken and vegetable broths can be used to make soups and sauces, and to add flavor when cooking vegetables and rice.

Add-ins — Nuts, sesame seeds, parsley, dried fruit and cheese can be added to main dishes, sides and salads to make them even more flavorful and nutritious.

Time savers

Take advantage of grocery items that do some of the work for you.

Frozen rice — For a tasty side or a starter for a full meal, try Minute® Steamers — exceptional-quality, flavorful rice that heats in the microwave in a self-ventilating steamable bag. It only takes four minutes to have one of six varieties on your dinner table.

Pre-cut vegetables — Save some prep time by using pre-cut vegetables. Give them a quick wash and they’re ready to use.

Pre-seasoned ingredients — Look for canned, diced tomatoes with garlic and onions, cheese made with jalapeño, or marinated chicken or pork cuts. These are all ways to add flavor without adding time.

Plan ahead

If you have more time on the weekend, you can do some prep work to cut down on your weeknight cooking time.

Prep ingredients — Chop vegetables and shred cheese, and keep them in storage containers or resealable bags in the fridge. You can also brown ground beef and cut any meats into recipe-ready pieces.

Herb cubes — Put a tablespoon of chopped herbs in each well of an ice cube tray. Fill with either water or olive oil, then freeze. Once frozen, pop them out and store in a freezer bag — you’ll have fresh herb flavor in a flash.

Cook once, eat twice — Double up on a recipe, then freeze one half for later. Or, plan a second meal around leftovers. For example, use Monday night’s taco meat for Tuesday night’s taco salad.

For more ways to prepare a speedy supper, go to

Contact M. Clare Haefner at or (254) 501-7551.

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