Easy, On-Demand Dinners

(Family Features) Nearly everyone wishes for an extra hour or two in the day. When juggling evenings filled with homework, practices, games and last-minute art projects, even just 60 extra minutes could make the difference in finding time to whip up a dinner you can be proud of. While there’s no changing the fact that there are 24 hours each day, there are some time-saving options for creating family dinners that feel like they’ve come together “on-demand.”

Cube, spiralize or pound. No matter what shape you choose, decreasing the thickness of your ingredients is key to helping them cook through quickly. Think chicken breast cut into hunks for kabobs, thinly sliced Korean-style beef or zucchini turned into “zoodles.” With increased surface area and high heat, you may be surprised at just how quick you can have food on your plate.

Homemade tasting, on-demand sides. Rounding out your menu with easy-to-make sides can be a huge time-saver, and you sacrifice nothing if you rely on choices that deliver the same taste as if you had prepared them from scratch. For example, Idahoan Mashed Potatoes are real potatoes, real easy, delivering homemade taste on-demand. Made from 100 percent real Idaho potatoes, they can be served in just minutes and offer high-quality taste and texture, just like homemade. The variety of flavors are perfectly blended with real cheese and authentic seasonings, and options include Buttery Homestyle, Roasted Garlic, Cheddar & Sour Cream, Loaded Baked and more, so you can find a match for just about any meal.

Marinate meat before freezing. A rich marinade can add delightful flavor to a wide range of proteins, but marinating a dish takes time. Speed up the clock by marinating meat ahead of time before freezing it. Then, on a busy weeknight, all you have to do is thaw and cook for a well-seasoned meal in minutes.

Rethink leftovers. The remains from a delicious dinner shouldn’t go to waste, and they don’t have to if you repurpose them into another meal. For example, you could reimagine grilled or roasted chicken into soft tacos or a protein-rich salad. Or you can add protein and seasonings to leftover pasta for a whole new meal. If you find the fridge full of odds and ends, make it a reheat-and-eat, quick smorgasbord meal. After all, what often matters most is that everyone eats a nourishing meal together, whether the same exact foods are on their plate or not. It can be even better when this nourishing meal comes together in the blink of an eye.

Find more tips and ideas for creating delectable family dinners at Idahoan.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family eating together)