In part 1, we talked about the really important reasons why you would want to make family sit down dinners at home part of your life. It really does give your kids more than just a healthy meal. It can be life changing for all of you. But how, you ask, can I possibly do that when we have so much going on and so many other "things" to do? I hope this part 2 article will help you get some ideas to lesson the stress and give you some doable ways to begin.
If you are anything like me and my family it seems like life gets busier with each passing year. So to help you with that, I put together a couple of top ten lists of things to do that will help simplify cooking for a family. Also, to help you see the effects that eating together can have. List #1 was in the 1st part of "What do your kids really want for dinner?".
List #2 -
Plan what you make and make what you love!
1. Right now, go get a pen and paper and write down as many
meals as you can that you like to make for your family.
2. Each time you try something new ask your family to rate it.
I tell mine that because this is a trial recipe, they can be
completely honest. I really want to know what they think.
(I brace myself for honest reactions!!) Ask them to rate it on
scale of 1-3. 1=dislike, 2=ok, will eat again, 3=great! loved it!
3. Write their preferences on the recipe so you can remember who
loves it and who just likes it etc. Now add it to your list from #1!
4. Rotate making each one's favorite meals. Or if you make one
person's fav. main dish, make another person's fav. side dish.
That way everyone is happy!
5. I LOVE lists! At the beginning of each month I try to sit down
for just one hour (as opposed to worrying about each and every
day for the next 30 days! and write each day of the month down
the side of a notebook page. I include the date and day of week.
(That makes it easier to see special occasions or prior
commitments and plan around them.)
6. Variety is the spice of life!
It is surprising how many meals you forget to put in your
rotation through the years. I still have favorites from my
college days that we still enjoy and are very easy and frugal.
Use your list from #1 above to help you fill in a dinner
meal for each day. This way you get a lot of variety
because you aren't just getting to the end of the day and thinking
"What's in the fridge we could have for dinner?"
Does this sound like too much work? It becomes fast and easy
when you do it with a list of meals you have made but also;
1. You don't have to stress every night (or all day long) over
what to have for dinner. It is all thought out! NO Stress!
2. If you aren't in the mood for the meal plan for the night
no problem! Switch! Because you have planned to have
all the ingredients for so many meals at the first of the
month, you can easily look at your list and just Switch!
3. Shopping is much more effective and easy because you
have a plan and a list! You save money because you
don't have to make a store run and end up picking up
extra impulse buys. As you fill in your dinner schedule,
make a line down the page for another column to list
any ingredients you don't have on hand.
7. Make Doable Meals! Be kind to yourself. As you schedule
your month, fill in busy days with meals that are simple to
prepare. Have a freezer meal that just needs to thaw in the
microwave or pull out some salmon, thaw it, sprinkle with
seasoning and bake for 10 min. with a green salad, dinner is
ready! Don't over schedule yourself!
8. Get a good freezer and use it!! I know a few women (working
and not), who spend a couple of complete Saturdays a month
making freezer meals so they don't have to cook when they
get home each evening.
That is great for those that it works for and I applaud them,
but it doesn't work for me. I can't remember a time
even now that my children are gone that I felt ambitious
enough or had a whole days time to devote to making
Much easier for me was to double or even triple meals
as I make them. I was already getting all the ingredients
out, mixing and cooking them so it just didn't take much
longer to make an extra recipe and freeze it. Even now that it is just my husband and I most of the time, I haven't lost
the desire to cook nice meals because I know that my efforts
tonight mean that I get a night or two off in the future and it
it so great to have 2 or 3 nights off a week that way!
9. Get the kids to pick meals they can learn to make and be in
charge of! Here is a link to a great recipe that even young
children can help with. Bubble Up Pizza by The Country Cook.
Another fun recipe kids really love is found on my site,
Ragu Enchiladas, and they could help with these also.
This is where I hope you won't judge me but I only have 9 in my top ten list..but I hope these ideas are as valuable to you as they have been to me!
The important message here is that eating together as a family is invaluable. It sets the stage for more open communication and creates the feeling that being together is important and that we like each other!
If all these ideas don't work for you please feel free to pick the ones that do and then improvise your own! You will soon learn that what your kids really want for dinner is...
I would love to hear any ideas you have that would help others with busy lives find ways to have sit down meals together! I love your comments!
This has been shared on these wonderful sites!
Mandy'a Recipe Box
Buns in my Oven
What's cooking Love?
The Country Cook