New Year. Fresh start. Sometimes we make resolutions around this time of year….getting dinner on the table might be on your list. I wanted to give you some ideas to help. I am only sharing things that work for us…in hopes that it will help you too.
I get it. You’re busy….places to go…people to see…kids to be carted….but dinner is important. Like really important. It is a non-negotiable in our house. We literally plan our entire day around our family dinner. To say that it is sacred would be an understatement. It is the 30 minutes of the day…that nothing interferes. We talk about what’s going on….we talk about school, work, fun things on the calendar…we connect. Does it matter what we are eating? Not really. It is definitely more about the time we are spending together. But we gotta eat right? So here are a few tips that really work for our family…and hopefully they will work for you too.
1. Ask every member in your family to tell you their 3 favorite meals. Depending on the size of your family…you should end up with about 10 go to meals that you know people will eat.
2. Create a family meal sheet/binder/system. Once you have about 20 meals that are family favorites….create a “system” of sorts to collect your information. I use a binder with sheet protectors. I have each recipe printed out…with the master list on the cover. I throw in new recipes too if it was a fan favorite. Soon enough you will have lots of recipes to choose from every week. My friend Melissa uses a “clothespin” system. She has all her family favorites written on clothespins. Every week, the kids pull out 5 clothes pins and clip them to the fridge (where the grocery list is)…then she makes her list and the kids know what’s for dinner too. Also, since she and her husband both work outside the home…he knows what to start cooking if he gets home first…and vice versa.
3. Take a day or night to plan. This is the most important step. Every Sunday, I take 20 minutes to plan the weeks meals. I use my binder of family favorites along with any new recipes I would like to try. Create a shopping list as you pick out the recipes. You will feel like you concurred the world when you have a plan for the week.
4. End the dreaded questions. What’s for dinner Mom? It will put some people into a complete state of rage…including me. So, after I have figured out the plan for the week….I post it on the fridge. Period. Done and done.
5. Who else can cook? My daughter happens to have a love of cooking. She has just started to cook a weekly family meal. She will tell me what night she wants to cook and what she needs from the store. 13 year olds are handy….
6. Do what you can…when you can do it. Do you wait in a long carpool line? Do you have a long commute to work? Do you have 20 minutes at night when the kids go to bed? Surely you can find 20 minutes to make a list. And if you can find more than 20 minutes…maybe you can even make a meal ahead of time. Sometimes I cook soup, or lasagna…meatballs…on Sunday..so that during the week I can just heat it up. Use your time.
7. Make one grocery trip. I tend to go to the grocery on Monday’s. My family knows that if something isn’t on the list by Monday…they will probably have to wait a few days for it. I dislike going to the grocery….but when I have a list…it is quick and efficient and I am buying things I know I will use.
8. Be available. You need to be home in order to eat dinner at home. Figure out what time is good for most family members and plan it.
9. It’s ok to get off track. Your whole day is a mess…no one is in a good mood. Been there, done that. But you have to eat. Rather than stopping for something unhealthy…maybe instead stop in the grocery for a ready made rotisserie chicken and a bagged salad. Dinner is done when you walk in the door. Leaves you more time to slowly drink a glass of wine;)
10. Cook one thing. My kids don’t like everything I cook….but they do know that what I serve is what’s for dinner. There will always be one thing on the plate that they like. And if there is a veggie that isn’t their favorite…they have to at least try a bit and give me a “score”…1-10 how much you hate/like it…Taste buds change and something they may have hated last year…they will grow to like more this year.
What works for your family? Do you have some tips to share to get dinner on the table? We would love to hear….
Go plan dinner for next week and feel like a super mom;)
Have a great weekend!