Do you ever get that feeling about mid-afternoon, that dread in the pit of your stomach when you realize you have no idea what you’re making for dinner, there’s no food in the house, and you really don’t want to fork out for takeout again?
Oh yes, that feeling. I know it well.
And while I don’t have the answer to perfect meals every night of the week (or kids who don’t complain about them) I do have some simple ideas for how you can bring a little more zen to the dinner table.
You knew I was going to say this, right? 😉
It might seem like something you’re not going to have time for, or you’re not going to follow, but planning out your meals- even if you’re just planning your dinners- will save you SO much hassle. Your grocery shopping will be easier, you’ll have less wasted food, and there will be less 4pm “OH CRAP what are we eating??” breakdowns.
It’s ok, we’ve all been there. Those are the nights when we feed our kids cereal and call it a night.
But honestly, using a super simple meal planner, like this one from Thirty Handmade Days, is enough to guide your mindset and if you pop it on the fridge, kids who are reading can take a peek and know what’s up instead of mommmmmmwhatsfordinner-ing you all day long.
Phone it in.
No, not takeout (although sometimes you’re going to go that route for survival and it’s 100% a-ok) but getting yourself hooked up with a meal plan subscription that takes every bit of guesswork out of dinnertime.
A service like One Potato will send you EVERYTHING you need for each meal a handy shipment so you don’t even have to hit up the grocery story for that ingredient you forgot.
You just let them know the size of your family (adults and kids), how many meals you want to do per week (2-3), and then you’ll get your package of fresh food so you can make some mealtime magic!
The ingredients are even semi-prepared for you so it’s like having a personal chef by your side. One Potato is currently available in California, Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, and Oregon, and they’ll be adding new states soon.
(They’re not sponsoring this post, we just love them! This service was created by Catherine McCord, the founder of Weelicious, which is another great site for recipe inspiration.)
Put it on repeat.
One of the best meal planning tips I have for you is this: It’s ok to repeat meals your family loves and more often than you think. The idea that meal planning has to be a Pinterest fantasy filled with exotic ingredients and hard-to-find bakeware is boring, just push that idea right out of your life.
If your kids LOVE tacos… go for the quintessential Taco Tuesday. If you love soup? Make a batch every Monday and then you’ve got lunch for a couple days too. If you want Friday’s to be breakfast for dinner, make it so.
You don’t have to plan a different dinner 30 times each month. You really just need 6-7 to spread across the week, repeating what you love, and leaving a night for leftovers (depending on what you’re making).
Let it go.
The responsibility of YOU always making dinner, that is. If your kids are old enough (and this could be younger than you think, depending on the child) it’s not unreasonable to give them one night a week when THEY are responsible for making the meal.
If your kids are around 8 or older (again, depending on the kid, you know your kids better than anyone!) they can be making simple meals that involve the stove and oven, or you can call it sandwich night and go heat-free.
Another serious benefit of this is that picky eaters are much more likely to dig in when they’re heavily involved in the meal prep. Plus, you’re passing on valuable skills they’ll need their entire life. Win-win!
I hope this helps to calm the chaos that can often surround dinnertime! If you have any tips that you love for making mealtime with kids run a little more smoothly, add them in the comments (along with your favourite recipes if you’d like!)
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