Cooking Dinner

Dinner. Yeah. That’s just something we have REALLY struggled with for, well, pretty much forever. As a family, we’re kind of picky eaters. And we’re BUSY! I struggle so much to find time to even make dinner every night.

Well, I recently attended Natalie Norton’s Breathe Workshop in Vegas. She designed it for mom’s who also have a business, but honestly, almost all the information she gave us could easily be utilized by ANY mom. Anyway, of course one of the things we discussed was family dinners. I left the workshop feeling inspired to improve!

Well, we came home and even though I did a better job of making dinner, I was still really struggling with it. You know how life is… it’s 70 degrees for the first time in months so you spend 2 hours after school playing outside and then it’s too late to cook anything for dinner. Looks like cereal for dinner. Or, we go to the studio for the day to work and despite our best efforts, don’t get home until 5:30 pm. Well, cereal (AGAIN). Or (this one’s my favorite), I actually am going to cook something and discover at the last minute that we are missing two of the ingredients. We end up defaulting to mac n cheese.

So, a couple weeks ago I decided to try something new, something I’d never done. Sunday morning, I made a meal plan for the week. Then I made a shopping list and actually went to Target and bought EVERYthing on the list. After the kids were in bed, I spent about 2 hours prepping all of our meals for the week.

I made a pan of baked ravioli, a pan of baked penne, and a pan of creamy chicken penne. I know, lots of pasta! I also had a frozen pan of manicotti that I stuck in the fridge. I bought 5 lbs of hamburger at Target and a bag of Tyson frozen chicken tenderloins. I cooked all the hamburger and put it in the freezer. I also chopped all the chicken and cooked it up then stuck it in the freezer. I also made extra plain penne noodles for the kids to eat if they didn’t like one of the pasta dishes.

I have to say it worked pretty well. Even when I was feeling lazy, we still had dinner! And the two hours I spent on Sunday prepping everything was a lot less time than I would have spent prepping each dinner every night. Win win! One day when it was gorgeous outside, I popped a pasta dish into the oven and we played outside for an hour while it cooked. When we were all worn out, dinner was magically ready.

I’m always looking for great new cook-ahead meals (hint, hint). If you leave me a recipe to try in the comment section (or email me at thesolars@thehappyfamilymovement.com), we’ll mail you some Happy Family Movement stickers 🙂 I’d also LOVE to hear your ideas for getting dinner on the table in a quick and easy way!

Cut up Tyson chicken frozen tenderloins in a heart shaped bowl.Mom cooking dinners.Mom making dinners on Sunday.Woman cutting chicken in her kitchen.Baked ravioli in a pyrex glass dish.Pasta meals in pyrex dishes.

Josh Solar (624 Posts)

I am a: Joy Seeker. Big Dreamdoer. Family Adventurer. Connoisseur of fine music. Practitioner of Gratitude. Painter of Watercolors.


7 comments
Rosemary
Rosemary

I emailed you a really simple and delicious (and make ahead) recipe for lasagna.

Meredith
Meredith

Ok, I've got two magic words for you...are you ready? Crock pot! I know, I know what you're thinking...I had all kinds of preconceived notions about crock pot cooking before I actually got desperate last year and tried it myself after my mother-in-law gave me a crock pot as a gift. They've come a long way and there are tons of things you can make in one with little or no prep work. And dinner is ready like magic! A great resource for a starting point for recipes is the blog A Year of Slow Cooking (http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/). Good luck, and happy cooking!

Em
Em

Cooking family meals is an area I struggle with, I'm a really picky eater, our 21 month old will only eat finger food (nothing in a sauce!) & my husband is dieting. We get a lot if our recipes from Jamie Olivers 30 minute meals book (I'm sure you can buy it in the states), it's all quick and easy and tasty food. I'd love to have the room in our freezer to prepare meals for the week ahead, it's an inspired idea :)

jill machovsky
jill machovsky

With the topic you chose, I can't help but give my business a plug. I co-own the Social Suppers in Corinth Square, PV. We will have our 5th annivsary in May and our business is truly thriving as we help people in the community figure out how to feed their families each night economically with great food. At Social Suppers you can prepare 8- 12 meals in less than 1 hour. The prep is handled by the staff as well as the clean up. All you do is put the recipe together and take them home to your frig or freezer. We also offer the option of having your meals assemlbed for you.* If you have the misperception that this service is expensive think again. A family of 3 can prepare 8 meals for $100. Think of the time you would save and have two nights of the week figured out. No cereal:) You can reach us at 913-381-3910 if you have any questions. Tonight on the menu at our house, Chicken Shrimp & Artichoke Casserole. Serving it with asparagus with our new Savory BBQ butter. Have a great night! Jill

Sara
Sara

Dinner is one thing I'm decent at and like you have had to work to plan ahead and prepare. We're now trying to move into only organic and that shift has been huge in our lives. No worries though,I can still make the same great things, just differently. One thing I do that helps is USE THE CROCK pot. And I'm not talking just for the meals, for the prep too. You can brown 5 lbs of hamburger by plopping it into the crock pot, putting it on the highest setting (mine is by hours so I do 4 hours) and every so often stop by and chop it up with a wooden spoon. That frees me up to do other things without being a slave to the frying pan. I also use the "mix N chop" tool from Pampered Chef and its AMAZING and only $8 or so. If you can get one! Same thing for chicken. I dump a whole bunch of breasts that are already trimmed in with a bit of water or broth and let it cook - usually for 6 hours. When its done, I mash it all and shred it in the pot with water -- super easy then I just use a slotted spoon to portion. One of my favorite recipes that is easy is this: http://southernfood.about.com/od/crockpotchicken/r/bl104c4.htm You don't have to do it in the crock pot since your chicken is already cooked, you can just do it stove top. Also, you could likely prep all of the "sauce" of this on the weekend and just mix the two in a skillet on the week night! Good lord I could type a manual so I should stop now. GOOD LUCK and this will for sure add more to your already glorious family! YAY YOU!