My boys often ask me at breakfast what we’re going to have for dinner. Sometimes they grimace, sometimes they squeal in delight, but I always have an answer. I’m no super chef, but I do pride myself on having family meals on an almost nightly basis. There are evenings when I’m cruising in the door just as everyone is sitting down, but we are good about making our dinners at home and avoiding the fast food trap.
My friends often ask how we do it. With three active kids and the juggle of two full-time careers, it’s not easy. Our secret – we obnoxiously plan. We have to, or my kids would likely eat at 8 p.m., and live off either McDonald’s or pasta and butter.
So here’s the strategy, and it can be easily copied:
- I sit down every Friday night with my husband and we take a look at next week’s calendar. We identify nights where we may be shuttling from practice to practice and walking in the door at 7 p.m. Those crazy nights require a crock pot meal or something that can be warmed up quick. We also circle the nights where we have a slower pace and can spend some time cutting, dicing and grilling.
- I make my menu on Friday for the next week and simultaneously jot down the grocery list. The weekly dinner plan goes on the fridge and we stick to it 99% of the time.
- We shop with the list and stock up the fridge and pantry on Friday night.
- On Sunday, I’ll spend some time making a crock pot meal or perhaps putting together a casserole. We usually always have one evening during the week where we rely on leftovers.
- Depending on the night and after-school activities, we either do our meal prep that day, or have something in the fridge ready to place in the oven for a quick heat up.
- We repeat this process every week, and it works. Once a week, we treat ourselves to takeout or an evening out, and that’s it.
I think my kids appreciate the routine of meals at home and knowing we have something planned. And my husband and I benefit too since neither one of us needs to stress about last-minute meal prep. We know, we have the ingredients on hand, and we simply execute.
Our schedule is crazy, so planning is essential. Now if only I could get my kids to eat more veggies … I’d be golden!
Do you have any favorite mid-week meal tips or easy recipes?