Four Tips for Dinner Time Transformation
Have you ever noticed that often life is craziest at dinnertime? Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook, but dinnertime is often some of the most chaotic moments of my day. Long gone are the days of Little House on the Prairie, at least at my home.
I’ve had the season of babies and toddlers, when prepping meals was an extraordinary feat. I’ve had the season of teenagers and busy schedules, when meal time was a quick bite in the car or a hodge podge of remnants in our kitchen. And dinnertime has not gotten any less chaotic today as it was in those seasons.
The same thoughts still run through my mind:
What am I going to cook for dinner?
Do I have what I need to cook this recipe?
How long will it take, and is there enough time?
Will my kids/husband eat this? If not, then what do I fix for them?
By the time I think through these things on a weeknight, it’s 8 pm and we still haven’t had dinner. After years of mealtime heartache, I came to realize the way I did dinner at my house had to change. Fast food at 8 pm could not be my go-to meal plan.
With a little help from a dietician, I learned how to transform my dinner time routine radically.
Here are four steps to dinner time transformation that are straightforward.
- The first key ingredient for dinner time transformation is to meal plan. Start by scheduling in a time each week to meal plan. For me, I meal plan on Sunday afternoons. If I don’t, then fast food at 8 pm comes back to haunt me during the upcoming week. Meal planning does not need to be overwhelming and stressful. If Pinterest overwhelms you, get out your cookbook.
There are many options on how to meal plan. Some families find it easy to stick to daily themes, such as: Monday is Italian, Tuesday is Mexican, Wednesday is Chinese, etc. My plan looks a bit different and maybe not as organized as some, but it works for me. I have a file folder with recipes and a Pinterest board for different dinner time options. Others have made menus, and they rotate through their lists and repeat. I would encourage you to find a meal planning time and system that works for you, but do not skip this step.
A helpful little tip for your meal planning is to include at least one thing that your kids/husband like in your dinner. It would be fantastic if our kids/husband would eat everything we cook. However, realistically, that’s probably not an option. So if you include one dish that you know your children or your spouse will eat, then that eliminates the struggle of what else to fix.
Dinner time now provides them an opportunity to try new foods, but it also gives them the comfort of foods they like. And if your child only eats mashed potatoes for dinner one night, they aren’t going to starve, and you aren’t creating extra chaos for yourself at dinnertime.
- Once you have your meals planned out, schedule your meals around your weekly calendar. If Tuesday is Suzie’s dance class at 5 pm, then cooking dinner is going to be very difficult, so consider a crock pot meal for that day or something that will grill quickly. I always check my calendar for each day and think through my schedule and what type of meal works best for my situation that day. I don’t know why I never thought to use my daily calendar as an essential part of meal planning, but I hadn’t. This little tip has been a blessing in my life. Grab your calendar, your recipes, and sit down at your appointed time and meal plan your week. It truly is a dinner time transformation.
- The third key ingredient for dinnertime transformation is grocery pick up. Wives, if you’ve not figured this out yet, I highly suggest you learn this trick. It has played a significant role in ridding my home of the fast food at 8 pm routine. When I am meal planning, I am grocery shopping online at the same time. I always schedule my grocery pick up the very next day. Now there is no more wondering if I have the ingredients I need for my recipe.
- The fourth ingredient to dinner time transformation is to check your meal plan each morning at breakfast. Do you need to take something out of the freezer? Do you need to put something in the crockpot? Do you need to marinate meat in the refrigerator all day? By taking five minutes or less at breakfast, it helps alleviate the struggle of whether there is enough time to cook dinner before bedtime.
By following these steps, when dinner time arrives, there is no more standing in your kitchen looking in your refrigerator hoping that something is going to jump out and say “cook me.” You have taken some time to meal plan, schedule the meals, you’ve planned your groceries, and taken five minutes to prepare each morning. This process will better help you finish your dinner and enjoy less stress at dinner time.
Wife Step: Schedule times for meal planning and grocery shopping each week. Also, make it your practice to check your dinner to do’s each morning at breakfast.
Karen lives in Madison, Alabama with her husband and three children. Karen has served as Preschool and Children’s Pastor and has been involved in women’s ministry for many years leading small groups, making hospital visits, organizing retreats, and encouraging the hearts of women. Karen now blogs at Glimpses of Faith and Struggles. What started out as a way to communicate medical facts has become a place where Karen uses life experiences to encourage others in their life journey. When she’s not busy caring for her family or writing, you might find her cooking or crafting.