You’ve got your meal plan and you’ve got your shopping list, so now all you need is the right equipment to get started on your weeknight dinner ideas. From quick, low-stress recipes to easy sheet pan meals, explore all you need to cook dinner Monday through Friday. These kitchen must-haves are not only great to have in your culinary toolbox, they’re necessary!
When it comes to weeknight dinner ideas, you’ll want to have a slow cooker in your kitchen. Not only are slow cookers helpful for dinner, you can cook almost anything you want in them. We love a slow cooker with a sauté feature so you can sear a roast right in the cooker before you cook it low and slow. Consider cooking Slow-Cooker BBQ Pork Sandwiches for a hearty dish that you can start before you leave for work, and you can come home to its delicious smells 8 hours later. Our recommended slow cooker offers a feature that will set the cooker to “keep warm” once the time is up, so you’ll enjoy a freshly cooked meal ASAP during the week.
While some Instant Pots® have a slow-cooker feature, it’s worth it to have both a slow cooker and an Instant Pot® on hand, especially if you’re looking to cook up a side dish in the pressure cooker while you’re finishing off the recipe in the slow cooker. Consider all the great side dishes you can cook up alongside your slow cooker, like Electric Pressure Cooker Cheesy Corn. Prepare recipes like this and many other recipes super quickly thanks to pressure cooking.
Every kitchen needs a good, sharp set of knives. It’s safer to have a sharp knife than a dull one, and with good-quality knives, you can get a clean cut with meat, veggies, fruit and more. Consider upgrading to a new knife set the next time you have the chance! Then, put your knives to work once you learn how to cut up a whole chicken, how to cut a mango and how to cut an avocado.
A Nice Cutting Board
Are you still cutting up your veggies and meats on a plate or even on a paper towel? A good cutting board doesn’t have to be expensive. Bamboo, wood or plastic options are available that won’t break the bank, and a cutting board is much better for your new knives! A stable cutting surface is also important for making quick work of your weeknight dinner ideas. It will also be important to learn how to keep your cutting board clean.
With different sizes of sheet pans, you can roast potatoes, broccoli and other delicious vegetables to get that tasty caramelization all over. You can also cook entire meals on a sheet pan for an easy weeknight dinner idea. Get some sheet pans and cook up BBQ Chicken and Sweet Potato Sheet-Pan Dish or Sheet-Pan Shrimp Fajitas.
A Nonstick Skillet
Nothing makes cooking and clean-up take longer than cooking on a sticky pan. Whether you’re trying to fry fish or pan-roast some chicken, food sticking to your skillet is the worst! Then having to soak it after the fact when you want to quickly clean-up? No thanks. But a good nonstick skillet will help you achieve all your easy weeknight dinner dreams. Use a nonstick skillet for a Cheesy Ham Omelet and never go back to your old sticky skillet again!
A Solid Spatula
If you make breakfast for dinner with pancakes, enjoy burgers on the stove or have a great new recipe for fish, consider adding a good spatula to your utensil crock. It makes flipping things a cinch, and you’ll love having it on hand.
Not just for mixing, a good set of bowls can help with your mise en place as well as tossing potatoes and veggies in oil and seasonings. If you get the nesting kind of bowls, they’ll help save space in your cupboard, too!
When you’re trying to quickly prepare your weeknight dinner ideas, you won’t want to miss a beat with over- or under-cooked meat. Make sure you get an instant-read thermometer to ensure your chicken reaches that 165-degree sweet spot.
A Sense of Humor
Last but not least, make sure your weeknight dinner ideas include laughing off any accidents that may happen. You might burn your casserole, or the flavor of your dish may turn out poorly. If you need to call your favorite pizza joint because of a Pinterest-fail, don’t feel too bad! It happens to the best of us.