Monday, January 02, 2012

Getting Meals on the Table with Ease

family dinner

Let's face it!  There is no snapping our fingers and food will magically appear on the table.  Feeding our family involves work.  Sure, we can hit the drive thru, eat out at restaurants often, or even live on convenience foods, but we all know that this would be both costly and unhealthy in the long run.

The good news is, there are things we can do to ease the work when it's time to whip up a meal. 

If you're not already, applying these tips will make an incredible difference in meal time efficiency, which results in a less stressed mommy.....which equals happier family!  :)

Have a plan!  I can't stress this enough...if you're struggling to get meals on the table, plan a menu and coordinating grocery list.  This principle alone will make such a difference, especially at dinner time.  When you know what you're making and have ALL the ingredients on hand, you've won half the battle.  There's nothing more frustrating than standing in front of an open fridge, trying to decide what to make.  If the thought of making menus and grocery lists overwhelm you, try a meal planning site to get you started.

Prep your way to success!  Once you have a plan, you then know what things you can prep in advance.  As soon as you get home from the store, process your veggies, and chop and freeze what you can.  You may remember my quick tip on freezing bell pepper.  Chopped carrots and celery keep well in the fridge for several days.  When it's time to start a meal, it's a lot more fun when you just simply pull your prepped ingredients right out of the fridge or freezer and drop.

Get an early start!  I often find it easier to start my dinner in the morning...if it's a meal conducive to that.  We are huge crock pot fans, and most crock pot recipes need to get going early.  When I know what I am making, I look at any element that can possibly be done early in the day...and I do it.  My girls do the same on their cooking days.  If we're having some sort of casserole, they prepare it early and put it in the fridge. 

Have a few go-to ingredients on hand.  Whether it's cooked, shredded chicken, homemade refried beans, or browned meat, having these prepared in advance will save you in a pinch.  If we've been exceptionally busy, I can pull out my beans and grated cheese and throw together burritos or quesadillas in minutes!  Or, whip up quick chicken tacos.  Or a quick spaghetti sauce.

Double, triple, or quadruple your meal.  Whether you're making chili, spaghetti sauce, or a casserole that freezes well, make extra and freeze the rest.  It's always a good idea to have a couple of freezer meals on hand.  They also come in handy for those spur-of-the-moment service a sick neighbor or a mommy who just gave birth.

Let the kids help!  I think one of the biggest detriments to parents is keeping your kids out of the kitchen.  I realize there are just those days when it's easier to get it done yourself, but if you have age appropriate children, give them a job and let them help.  Before you know it, those kids will have become capable contributors in the kitchen!

Meal time is always mostly a well oiled machine in our home because we put these tips into practice....a must for this crowd of eleven!

Do you have a tip to share?  What do you do to get meals on the table with ease?

Photo Credit


  1. My issue I always had to overcome was thinking ahead, even with a meal plan. Once I got good at having a plan, it would often get derailed because I didn't get out the meat to thaw in time or I forgot to cook the beans, etc.

    I've had to discipline myself to think about tomorrow's dinner either while I am making dinner or while the kids are cleaning up afterwards. If I do that, then I can get meat moved from the freezer to fridge, get beans in the crockpot, or whatever.

    I also use that time to prep breakfast for the next morning and pack Kelly's lunch. If I do this, my days run much smoother!


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