Arsenic hour – that’s what I used to call it. It’s that late afternoon hour when you are trying to coordinate sports pick up, homework help and cooking dinner. Everyone seems to need something at the time you need to be thinking about dinner.
The “Leave it to Beaver” era of having two parents and the children all home at the same time for a sit down dinner, is long gone. Parents are travelling for work, others are working two jobs, or working late hours, or spend hours in traffic – and it all impacts the stress level at home.
At the end of a busy day, the last thing you want to do is think about what’s for dinner, so stopping on the way home is an enticing option. Down deep though, you know it may not be the healthiest choice to make. Having a meal plan ready can save you the time and frustration of having to think about creating a dinner out of what is on hand. You can use a simple calendar (create a blank one in word or publisher) and pencil in dinners for the week. There are apps for your phone that can help with planning, recipe ideas and even websites that will send you the menu each week (based on the sales at your local store (http://www.foodonthetable.com/). Armed with a plan for the week, grocery shopping becomes quick and easy and weekly rather than daily.
The best meals are the ones you already make. Look at your favorite recipes and pick out the ones that will work the best. Simpler is better for school nights. Using the timer oven, crock pot or microwave, as well as, cooking larger portions to use for two different meals, can save you time and effort. With a plan it only takes a quick check of the menu the night before to remind you of what you need to do to be prepared. This is also very helpful for significant others and teenage children who might not take the initiative to decide on dinner but can follow directions quite well. Asking for help lightens the pressure and makes others feel they are contributing too.
Of course you could do a marathon cooking day and make several meals to freeze or check out the new franchise Dream Dinners where you can make dinners and leave the mess to them. Whatever you decide, having a few things in the freezer already prepared or ready for quick prep can take the struggle out of that dinner hour and leave you with more time to spend with your family.
This is reprinted from our Laine’s Logic Newsletter – Logical Solutions for Today’s Busy Family. Sign up on our website here.