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Getting Dinner Done

organizing your dinner plan

 

One of my personal priorities is getting dinner done.  It is a great time for communication, cooperation and role modeling for our families.  It all starts with setting a time for your family to gather and getting dinner on the table.  There are several short cuts that can help.

Planning dinner

Having  a plan is the biggest part of getting dinner done.   The success factor for dinner means you have a plan that works for you.   Gather your family together for your family meeting and brainstorm 10 meals everyone will eat.  These can be very simple, including dinner for breakfast, sandwiches or simple assembly with pre-cooked ingredients.   Moms sometimes like to throw in “surprise night” so that you have the opportunity once a week to be creative.

My colleague Susan Heid recently added her own cookbook for sale. With the discount code of CP20, you can purchase it online at her website.   Susan includes making your lists and conversation starters too!

http://www.theconfidentmom.com/mom-resources/got-dinner-quick-easy-recipes-from-the-confident-mom/

Susan enthusiastically wears the hat of mom, step-mom and foster mom to 4 awesome kids – ages 18, 14, 10 and 14 months; is married to her very own prince charming, loves coffee, cloudy days, and does think the bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle. You can find her at her other day job, The Confident Mom and get a FREE copy of her popular eBook “Getting Kids to Cooperate and Become Team Players.”

Online resources for creativity include www.e-mealz.com and www.thescramble.com.  All of these boost your meal planning organization in different ways.  Choose what works for you to get the plan going!

One amazing way to make your family and husband VERY happy is to post the meals of the week! You will receive not only amazing compliments, lots of hugs too!

Planning shopping

One of the trickiest shopping is for groceries.  Everyone’s ideal is different, but most agree that have a way to capture the list, and getting to the store regularly, make for the easiest organization. You can google your store and print out the list of groceries by aisle and keep this on a clipboard near the pantry.  Having two days that are the “regular” shopping days make sure there is always milk in your home.

Planning cooking

At 4:30 your kids become aliens who were raised by wolves! Having a plan on when to cook is the last step in dinner planning.  You can set aside time on Sunday to double batch, you can start your dinner early in the crock pot before you leave for work, or  you can entertain your kids in the kitchen with you while cooking dinner.  You can mix it up with partnering, where you and one child cook one night, and your partner and another child do the dishes that night.  Delegating and cooperating are fun parts to cooking dinner and everyone can have a job.   All of these are great ways to have preparation time.  Know what works for you and set up your time accordingly.   For me, even without kids at my feet, I love to cook on Sundays and adore my crock pot!  My husband and I share the clean up responsibilities too.

What are your best ways to get dinner done?

Holiday Dinner

Getting the holiday dinner together is first task for Thanksgiving and the last task for Christmas.  It is the time we cherish as we gather together, talk about the holiday with family or friends, and enjoy traditional goodies usually passed from other generations.  Here are some simple ways to enjoy the meal.

Invite your guests early.  Most of us are thinking of the holidays just after Halloween. Is it too early to plan? Not at all!  As you invite your guests, this is the first step in knowing the numbers for your dinner.  AND as you invite, ask your guests to bring an item they can share.  It can be something they remember from their childhood or something they can easily cook or pick up.  Mindfully delegating the goodies shares memories and work!

Choose your recipes and make your grocery list early.  Most ingredients are on sale early on.  With your list in hand, you can take advantage (with coupons) of the sales.    Plan an area not in the kitchen where you can gather these items before the big feasts.   Shop at off hours so you are not in the crush.  Take a few minutes to type up the list for the next year and place the list and the recipes in your holiday notebook. 

Make preparation a family event! Even the youngest can share in cooking.  What gets in the way? Perfectionism! Remember that it may not turn out exactly as Martha Stewart but it will be yummy!  Ask your family to do what they do best whether it is baking, peeling, table setting or other tasks.  Being together in the kitchen is a remarkable experience.

Sit down together and have a moment of prayer.  There is abundant blessing in our homes. Take time to be grateful.  Share with your family out loud what are you most grateful for this year.   

What works for you in holiday dinner preparation?

Family Dinner

dinner organizing and family dinner

 

In our minds, the thought of family dinner brings back a picture of the 50s family gathered around the table feasting on pot roast and mashed potatoes.  With the busy lives we lead we may not be able to make that pot roast ourselves, but we can continue to make family dinner a priority. In a recent Time Magazine article, the Magic of the Family Meal, authors cited the family dinner as a primary part of family life. The communication that goes on not only smooths family life, this article even went on to say it prevents kids from doing drugs! This is reason for us to be sure we have our sacred family time.   http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1200760,00.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/fashion/04dinner.html

So how to accomplish this daunting task? Here are several suggestions to make this a simple part of your everyday family life.

Start with a plan. 

Be sure family members can be home together to have dinner.  Making dinner a priority means some thing else may not be a part of your week.  Include grocery shopping (and possibly coupon clipping) in your calendar in order to prepare dinner.

Include your family team in meal planning and preparation.  During a family meeting, have family members request their favorites and make a list.   Family members can partner to make meals and clean up after meals.  With your chores chart, assign a night to the pairs.   If starting dinner is a sticking point, make it a standard operating procedure for whoever comes in the door first starts dinner.

Families look forward to dinner and the yummy foods. 

With your family list create a 3 week rotation of easy to prepare meals. Recycle your 3 week rotations in a notebook to reuse later in the year.  Post the weekly or 3  week rotation on the refrigerator so your family knows the plan and chats about the yummy treats coming up.

Keep It Simple Sweetie applies to family dinner.

It is about gathering together, not culinary creativity.  Sandwiches, breakfast food, and crock pot dinners are all great ways to get dinner done.  Affordable healthy take out from fast food restaurants can be a part of the plan too.

Family traditions start with dinner time. 

Friday night can be frozen pizza night, Sunday is Dad’s Grill Day and Wednesday night might be Breakfast for Dinner night.  Our kids remember these times!

Your pantry should be the go to spot for those crazy nights when everyone is running late.  Include pasta, bottled speghetti sauce, tuna and other staples that can be turned into dinner in 30 minutes.

Plan for leftovers. 

Recently I read about a family who dedicates Sunday to going to the park each Sunday in the summer.  Dad grills burgers, chicken and other dinner meats for the week, while Mom relaxes and the kids play games.  On a weekend, double recipes and freeze half.  Cook an entree that can be used in two different dishes, such as taco meat for burritos and later in the week taco salad.

And here are a few other resources too!

www.5dollardinners.com

http://www.dinnerplanner.com/

www.menufortheweek.com

http://www.makedinnereasy.com/

http://www.sixoclockscramble.com/

http://thefamilydinnerproject.org/

 

What is your favorite way to get dinner done?