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It’s 5:30 p.m. and you haven’t given dinner a single thought. And then the dreaded question is asked, “What’s for dinner?” Who is a fan of that question? Certainly not me. Ugh. Day in and day out, dinner can become quite stressful as you either race to the store to pick up ingredients, peruse your pantry to try and throw something together, or call the local pizza place and opt for delivery. It can be so hard coming up with new, exciting ideas for dinner that are simple to prepare and quick to make it to the table.
Before my husband’s work schedule changed, we were really only eating dinner together a few times a week. I was on my own and on those nights I would simply pour myself a bowl of cereal with some fruit on top. That was it.
And then my husband’s work schedule changed and we found ourselves eating dinner together every night. He soon started to send text messages or call me on the way home from work and ask, “What do you want to do for dinner?” At first, it was fun.
Then, I started to dread the question. I even told him, “I’m so tired of thinking about food!”
From worrying about my son’s meals and snacks to preparing food for myself to now having to go all out for dinner, food was becoming stressful. Yes, #firstworldproblems, I know. But, who hears me on this one?
10 Ways to Get Dinner to the Table Quickly
So, instead of dreading the question, I tried to figure out ways to make dinner prep a bit easier and less stressful. Here are some of my favorite ways to get dinner to the table quickly.
1.) Make a Weekly Meal Plan
When my husband and I were only having a few dinners together a week, we would go to the store every one of those days, see what we were craving, check out what looked the best, and add the items to our cart. It was a fun date idea for a nice date night in.
But, once we started eating dinner together every night of the week, we were both growing a little tired of the daily grocery store trips. So, we sat down and figured out weekly meal plans. We would go up to the grocery store, buy all of the ingredients for the week, and then not have to return for the week (unless we needed to grab odds and ends).
A weekly meal plan was a game-changer. Our meals were already planned and we already had the food in our pantry and refrigerator. It’s been a win-win.
I recently came across a great program that can help you create a meal plan. Have you ever heard of PlateJoy? PlateJoy includes a special menu created just for you with input from their unique personalization quiz, on-demand menus of personalized meals tailored to your preferences, customized recipes, shopping lists, and full usage of their digital pantry feature. Weight loss, gaining more energy, and feeling amazing is offered at no extra charge.
PlateJoy subscriptions come in 6-month and 12-month packages, beginning at $8/month. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options are available and all courses are included in our 6- and 12-month plans. PlateJoy currently offers the following plans: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Paleo (Low Carb), No Red Meat, Vegetarian, Pescetarian, Vegan, Clean Eating, Kosher, Low Fat, Prediabetes, and others. You can switch up your selections before creating each menu.
Simply do the following:
- Get an account.
- Take their quiz (you can customize the diet, meal type, portion sizes, ingredient list, etc.).
- Approve the menu.
- Receive your shopping list and recipes from PlateJoy.
- Pick up the ingredients at your local store or have them delivered to your home.
- Prepare your meal.
Their Digital Pantry remembers what non-perishable items you have remaining, and will remember it so you can use the leftovers in future PlateJoy meals! How awesome is that?!
To get started with PlateJoy, click here.
2.) Stock Your Pantry
I strongly believe in having a stocked pantry. Yesterday, my husband asked me, “Can you throw lunch together quikcly?” My answer was, “Yes.” Recently, I’ve started to realize the importance and freedom of having a stocked pantry. When we don’t have time to go to the store or schedules become a bit funky and we find that we can’t eat dinner together, it’s always nice to turn to the pantry and refrigerator to whip up a tasty dinner. Here are 10 of my favorite kitchen staples.
3.) Purchase a Rotisserie Chicken
Yes, go to the grocery store and buy a fully-cooked rotisserie chicken that can usually be found in the deli or prepared-meal section. These chickens are lifesavers. I love adding shredded chicken to pasta dishes and soup recipes. I also cut off the chicken breasts, simmer them in gravy, and serve with mashed potatoes and green beans. Lifesaver, I tell ya.
4.) Freeze Sauces
When my son first started eating solid foods, I would puree his food, pour the food into ice cube trays, and freeze them. Then, I would pop the frozen squares into a freezer bag and thaw it when it was time for him to eat. You can do the same with sauces like pasta sauce and pesto.
5.) Ask the Kids to Help
Why leave dinner prep up to you? Get the kiddos into the kitchen and have them help with tasks such as chopping (age-appropriate, of course), stirring, mixing, etc. They can also load the dishes into the dishwasher. Getting the kids into the kitchen teaches them so many life skills that they will appreciate later in life.
6.) Keep a Stocked Freezer
Many people are into the “30 days of freezer cooking.” I think that’s awesome. I haven’t tried it yet but I’ve contemplated trying it. Think about it: You spend a few hours one day preparing 30 meals that go straight into the freezer. Then, all you have to do is pop the meal into the oven or slow cooker and you’ll have 30 straight days of meals already prepared and ready to enjoy within minutes. Genius.
7.) Use a Slow Cooker
My Mom always prepares the best slow cooker meals. She pops the ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning and allows the food to cook throughout the day. Not only does the meal taste delicious but the house smells so amazing. Recently, I’ve come across a few slow cooker meals that have become staples in our home. The meals are simple and flavorful. What’s not to love?
8.) Find Staple Recipes
Figure out what your family loves to eat and determine at least three recipes that can become family staples. These staples should be easy to prepare and only require a few ingredients. Always make sure you have those ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator so that you can throw together the recipe in minutes.
9.) Keep a Staple Grocery List
We all have those must-have items that we need at the store week in and week out. Instead of stressing as you create your grocery shopping list and forgetting some of the important items, keep a list of staple items in your house and make sure you mark down what you need every week.
10.) Limit Your Ingredients
I’ve always been a firm believer that food doesn’t have to be complicated to taste good. With just a few ingredients, you can have a meal that tastes amazing and has people asking for more. I shy away from ingredient lists that are long and/or include ingredients that I will never use again (unless I make the same recipe). To me, those recipes are wasteful. If you use good, quality ingredients, the few that you do use in your recipe will make the end result a showstopper.
What’s your quick tip for dinner?
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