For most of us, school has either started back up again or will be starting in the next few days. That means evening homework, sports activities, band activities, etc. You know, all the things that go along with school starting back that can make our lives so hectic.
How do we maintain some sort of control over one of the most important events of the evening? That would be dinner by the way.
Here are 5 easy tips to help you put healthy dinners on the table even during the hectic school year.
- Plan! You must plan. It really only takes a short amount of time but can save you so much time and money during the week. Without a plan, you’ll be running to the store several times a week to “just pick something up”. You’ll spend twice as much money on groceries as you would with a plan. You’ll also find yourself eating out more. Again, lots of money not to mention how unhealthy it is. If you really want to make it easy on yourself, use a meal planning service. Build A Menu, an online menu planning service, lets you plan your weekly menus, prices the ingredients for you, and gives you the recipes and a shopping list. It takes all of 5 minute to prepare a menu with a week of meals. Or, if you prefer, just sit down and make the menu plan yourself. Either way, you have to plan.
- Use that slow cooker! You and your slow cooker need to become friends during the week. I’m talking real pals. Throw your meal in the slow cooker in the morning and come home in the evening to a meal. You can even put your chicken breast in the slow cooker frozen. Seriously, use that slow cooker!
- Prep for meals during the week. Look at the meals you have planned and see how many call for cooked ground beef. Same goes for chicken. Go ahead and cook it all up and divide it out. If you’re using it up that week then there’s no need to freeze it. It’s ready in the fridge when you need it. Do any of your meals call for onions or bell peppers? Chop up the required amounts on the weekend so you have all the prep work done already. Basically, prepare anything ahead of time that can be. This one little tip can be such a time saver. If you have older children who can handle a knife, then this is a good job for them.
- Plan a leftover night toward the end of the week. Have one night where you don’t cook. Lay out all the left overs (it’s ok if it’s a hodge podge) and let everyone fend for themselves. Or you might find you have enough to make a great stew or soup.
- Check your calendar. Before you start your meal planning for the week, check and see what activities you have going on in the evenings. If you have a PTA meeting or your child has soccer practice on Monday evenings, you might want to make sure you have something quick (this is where they slow cooker comes in) to prepare on that evening. Nothing can run a good meal plan faster than finding out you don’t have time to cook what you had planned.
So, it really comes down to taking just a few minutes to plan. Make your life easier, your evenings calmer and your family healthier. You’re worth it!
Do you have any tips to share with us about meal planning now that school has started? We’d love to hear from you!