By Susanne Myers
You know the drillÖ you run around all day taking care of the kids, the household and your job and before you know it 7pm rolls around and you have no idea what to fix for dinner. That used to be me too. The solution was usually to sever everyone a bowl of cereal or call the pizza delivery guy. Not anymore. While Iím still just as busy as ever, I also realize how important it is to prepare a "real" dinner for my family. Not only is it much healthier, we also end up saving money we used to spend on takeout and we have come closer as a family. I wouldnít trade dinner time for anything in the world and neither should you. Here are my best tips for getting dinner on the table even if youíre as busy as I am.
Get Everyone Involved
One of my biggest secrets is that I donít try to be supermom and I donít try to get everything done by myself. Of course this includes making dinner. In our house cooking is a family affair. My husband and daughter are in the kitchen with me, cooking, setting the table and cleaning up after along with me. It makes every step of the process much faster, and when I am running late and donít make it home in time to get dinner started, the two of them can get started without me. Cooking together is also a great way for the three of us to bond.
Shortcuts Are OK
Donít feel like you have to make everything from scratch for it to count as a home-cooked meal. Itís ok to take shortcuts. Some of my favorites are to use bagged salad thatís already cleaned and ready to go, breadsticks and rolls that just need heating up and all kinds of canned soup or stews. There are also quite a few good frozen meal packs available these days that you just cook in the pan or in your slow cooker. Whenever I do take the time to make things like soup, stew, casseroles or even meat loaf, I make several batches of the dish and freeze the remaining portions for another day when Iím short on time. What counts is that you get a healthy meal on the table, not the amount of time you spent in front of the stove.
Plan Your Meals
Last, but not least, let me share my biggest secret with you Ė I plan my meals. Itís sooo much easier to get dinner on the table, when you know exactly what youíre going to cook ahead of time and have what you need at hand. Just sit down once a week with a pen and a piece of paper and write down exactly what you are going to make for dinner each day of the week. Get your recipes out , and attach them to the list, then make a grocery list. It saves a lot of time only having to go to the store once a week and by attaching the recipes to the list of menus, other family members can get started on dinner when youíre running late.
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