Dinner doesn’t have to look like this every night!
After my menu planning post it occurred to me that many of you are great at menu planning, but struggle with actually implementing the dinner plan. It is no secret that eating at home is much cheaper and healthier than eating out, so here are five simple ways to get dinner on the table.
Prep Food on the Weekend
To be honest I am not a huge fan of freezer meals, but I do like cooking ahead to save time during the week. Often I will brown several pounds of ground beef or cook and shred a whole chicken and store it in the fridge to help speed up my nightly meal prep. On the days that go awry I just pull out some chicken and throw together chicken tetrazinni or Mexican chicken skillet in less than 30 minutes.
Make Dinner During Breakfast (or Lunch)
Sometimes it is easier to put together a casserole in the morning when the day hasn’t fallen apart. If you make a hot breakfast it is easy to get a casserole together while making breakfast. Then when it is time for dinner put the casserole in the oven and dinner is ready!
Use the Crock Pot
Once again, this uses the make in the morning method. There are so many amazing crock pot recipes and you can use a crock pot every day of the year. Just put it outside in the summer months and use it to warm your house in the winter months. By making dinner in the crockpot you once again avoid the dinner witching hour and have dinner ready to go with minimal prep in the evening. A few crock pot favorites: Slow Cooked Potato and Corn Chowder, Italian Chicken, Simple BBQ Chicken, and 3 Ingredient BBQ Pork.
Keep a Few Go To Meals in the Freezer and Pantry
Pasta is my go to meal. When we have had a rough day full of unexpected doctor’s appointments or other distractions I pull out a box of pasta and jar of sauce from my pantry. It isn’t fancy, but it is healthier and cheaper than ordering a pizza. And speaking of pizza, I usually keep a few frozen pizzas in my freezer as well. They aren’t healthy, but they are cheap and work in a pinch!
Make Your Home Your Job
At the risk of alienating some readers, for many years I have considered “homemaking” my job. This means I treat it like I would a job. I get up, get ready for the day, and get to work. I might not get paid for my work, but being resourceful and a good family manager saves my family money. If I go through my days not planning, not making meals, not cleaning the house or taking care of the kids, my irresponsibility costs my family money. While there are days when dinner does not get made, these should be the exception not the rule. Crock pot meals, freezer meals, weekend food prep, and go to dinners all work on the days it doesn’t seem possible to get dinner on the table.
In our house, family dinners are a priority. This is a time for us to talk, laugh, tell stories and unwind from our day. It is important that we eat together as a family and we can’t eat together if there’s nothing on the table.