If you have several mouths to feed, you might know how difficult getting dinner prepared every day might be. Prep work, shopping, planning, cooking and serving all adds up in the evening rush.
“What to make? What do we have? We have to be out the door in half an hour, I have no time!”
Some days, it's just a challenge. To help you overcome this sometimes hectic dilemma, here's 11 ways to help you get the dinner battle under control in your house. Use these tips to focus more of your time on family and less on cooking.
Freezer meals and casseroles
They do require some preparation but offer up time during cooking to get other things done. Another plus is that preparation for these types of meals can even be done days in advance (Sunday afternoon, I'm looking at you!) Get your meals made before hand and pop them in the oven when you need them.
Host a dinner swap
Invite some friends to participate by preparing a dish (Meals that can be frozen and enough for each of the people at your swap) and trading dinners. You leave with a variety of dishes and have minimal prep time each night for dinner.
Get as much of the preparation done the night before or in the morning before your day starts. Thaw some frozen chicken in the fridge, wash and chop veggies or marinate the steak before you go to bed or get your crock pot meal set up before you leave for work.
Try meal planning
Decide beforehand what you plan to make each day, before that day arrives. This takes all the guess work out of “What's for dinner,” and won't leaving you standing in front of the pantry scratching your head. Decide what you're making, create a list and get the shopping done in one go. Ask your family for input if you need help deciding what to cook for 7 different days! There are also some great meal planning services, if you would rather have it all laid out for you.
Set a schedule for yourself
Pick a time to start prepping and cooking and treat it like an appointment. Dinner can sometimes get rushed when you don't plan enough ahead and get lost trying to finish up other chores or responsibilities. Been there, done that!
Give yourself a break
Everyone has “off days” occasionally. Have some items on hand to create some easy dinners. Things like pasta and sauce, macaroni and cheese with veggies and even “helper” meals will get you through the supper time slump. Tomorrow is another day!
Use what's in your pantry
This goes hand in hand with meal planning. See what recipes you can whip together just with what you have in stock already. This saves you money at the store and the time you will spend there.
Utilize your leftovers
No one sits around and says, “I'm in the mood for leftovers tonight!” but using what you have is a key player in the dinner game. Get creative and add taco seasoning to some chicken breasts you shredded from the night before or turn that chicken into chicken and dumplings or rice. You get more from your food and save yourself from wasting money.
Get the right tools
Sometimes you just need a meatloaf pan, a good casserole dish or a dependable skillet. Make sure you have the appropriate cooking aids to get the dinner job done. Can't make a casserole with a casserole dish or at the very least a cake pan! Amazon is my go-to when looking for something particular. Thrift shops are another great way to get a great deal on those must-have tools!
Start a date night with friends or family members each week and trade off who does the cooking. You get to spend time with the people you care about and get a night off of dinner duty ever once in a while. Ask about any food allergies and refer them to this list!
Get a crock pot
Most recipes for the crock pot require very little prep time and NO TIME standing in front of a hot oven. Toss your ingredients in before you start your day and come home to a delicious, hot meal, ready to be served.
What's your favorite way to save time on dinner?