What to Cook: The Best Weeknight Recipes

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Weeknight cooking is a drag.

Even if you have the best intentions, went to the market yesterday, made a plan, spent a few minutes in the morning setting out ingredients, and slipped past that manager at work who always wants a sec at the end of the day, it’s still likely that fate will intervene and leave you trapped in highway traffic or stuck in a subway under the river, so you don’t get home until an hour after you planned, maybe two. Soundtrack: Joe Jackson, “(Do the) Instant Mash.”

This happens every day. It happens to graduate students, laborers and white-shoe lawyers. It happens to retirees stuck at the doctor’s with an afternoon appointment that runs very late. It happens to the doctors themselves, looking at their pagers, canceling plans. It happens to contractors standing in line at the Buildings Department or staring at a muddy trench in the rain. It happens to poets and priests, teachers, engineers, trash collectors, reporters who cover food for a living, to anyone who has to leave home for more than a couple of hours on a weekday and then has to do it again in the morning.

It leads to a lot of delivery pizza and regret.

It doesn’t have to be that way. With the right tools and ingredients, easily and relatively cheaply acquired, you can cook a simple weeknight dinner — a delicious weeknight dinner — in under an hour.

And, this week at Cooking, we’ve assembled a bunch of advice for just how to do just that.

It might mean getting a multicooker, as Melissa Clark reports in a terrific story about how to use one well. (Have one already? You could set it up on rice mode so that if worse comes to worst and it often does, you have dinner all set: rice with butter and soy, maybe a fried egg under a sprinkle of ginger. You’ll be eating 20 minutes after you walk in the door. And there’s your no-recipe recipe for this Wednesday!)

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