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For The Week: Food tips and tricks to get you through the next 7 days

BMTN's food writer Lindsay Guentzel makes life easier for Minnesotans.

We did it. We made it to 2021. And if these first few weeks are any indication, this year is going to be just as messy as the last. My goal is to help make your life a little easier, by providing you with tips, tricks and recipes to keep the stress out of your kitchen. 

Every Sunday, For The Week will set you up for success as you get ready to start the week: streamlined, concise and productive.

Always have something defrosting

Let me introduce you to the Refrigerator Plate. It’s a plate you keep in your fridge to remind you to pull something out of your freezer. Yours could be a bowl or an old tupperware container. Whatever it is – perhaps, even just a note on the door or an alarm on your phone – the biggest setback for making dinner is not having something thawed out ready to cook.

This is key in setting yourself up for success. Think about it. You get done with work and you start to think about what you are going to have for dinner. But the foundation for your meals? They are all still frozen. You don’t have time to thaw anything out and instead of making a trip to the grocery store, you simply order out.

What’s great about having something thawed out is it gives you flexibility when it comes to meal time. One of the biggest complaints I hear from people about setting up a meal plan for the week is having to commit to a dinner ahead of time. ‘What if I plan tacos on Tuesday and then Tuesday comes around and I don’t want tacos anymore?’

Having a base ready to go means you can switch things up on the fly without too much work. Frozen chicken breasts can be thawed out and grilled for sandwiches and salads, sauteed with veggies for pasta, wrapped in bacon and baked for BBQ night. Ground beef can be turned into burgers, tacos, spaghetti, Shepherd’s pie.

It’s a very simple and basic concept that can do wonders for eliminating stress when it comes to meal time. You just have to do it. Go put that plate in your fridge right now and get started.

Three Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes To Try This Week

Your slow cooker – aka your Crockpot – is an awesome tool to help alleviate the stress that comes along with planning meals during the week.

By prepping everything ahead of time, it takes away the manic period between work and dinner where we all rush to try and get something made. It’s also a great option for making large meals to fill the freezer, making a little work go a long way.

Slow Cooker Spicy Chicken Fajitas

This is my go-to recipe for long weekends at the cabin. I set everything up in the morning so that when we come home after a day on the lake, we have a complete meal ready to go without any big fuss.

Find the recipe here.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

Buffalo chicken is a fantastic staple protein. Whip up a batch and get creative with your meals. Personally, I’m in love with totchos – tater tot nachos loaded with buffalo chicken, a little blue cheese, scallions. The ultimate bar food without leaving the house.

Find the recipe here.

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies

Make this with a giant side of garlic mash potatoes, settle down in front of a roaring fire and embrace winter and all the good things that come with it, like this meal.

Find the recipe here.

Takeout Tip

Frankie’s Chicago Style, New Hope

Frankie’s Chicago Style in New Hope became one of our go-to takeout spots during the first restaurant shutdown back in 2020.

Not only is the food delicious (I’m a huge fan of their sweet chili wings) but Frankie’s team is committed to supporting the communities around them by fighting food insecurity. I love nothing more than supporting businesses that make giving back a company commitment.

Besides their wings, I highly recommend the Cuban Classic – pork loin with ham, Swiss cheese & pickles, topped with Cuban mustard sauce on a toasted ciabatta roll – served with a side of tater tots and their pizza by the slice that’s available at the counter when you pick-up. We always add a slice or two to our take-out order.

Outdoor Fun

Utepils Brewing

Take advantage of the above average temperatures and enjoy a craft brew at Utepils Brewing’s winter beer garden. When the second shutdown went into effect, Utepils was one of the many Minnesota establishments that worked quickly to provide outdoor facilities in order to keep its doors open. Now you can enjoy their beautiful Fernweh Taproom but if you aren’t comfortable being indoors, they have tents and fire pits outside to help keep you warm and happy (the beer helps too).

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