Today is BFBN day. All the ladies at the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are posting their Quick Dinner Ideas. Scroll to the bottom of this post for links to their blogs!
Truth be told, making dinner quickly is not the way I like to do it. I really enjoy cooking, so having to rush through it quickly feels a bit like asking someone who loves golf to just skip the first 9 holes. And yet, I’m a real mom with a real life and real children who need to be fed, nursed, bathed, wrangled, and read to all before 7pm. If I don’t start cooking until 5pm, dinner must be quick!
How do I balance my desire to wind down from the day through a little home cooking with my family’s need to have dinner on the table by 5:30pm?
PREPARATION, PREPARATION, and REMOVAL OF DISTRACTIONS!
PREPARE a Weekly Meal Plan: once a week I choose the meals I’m going to make for the week, make a list, and grocery shop for everything I need. This keeps me from scrambling to figure out what to make for dinner each night. It ensures that everything I need to make dinner is already on hand.
PREP Early in the Day: If I have a meal that requires a lot of chopping, mixing, shaping, or simmering I try to get it done early in the day – sometimes even before the kids wake up in the morning. I’ll chop vegetables, mix spices, pull the cans I need off the shelf, etc. When the time to actually make dinner comes, most of the work is already done.
REMOVE DISTRACTIONS to the Best of Your Ability: Nobody benefits when the kids are underfoot in the kitchen. It slows me down and makes me snappy. Periodically I do invite Vera (my 3.5 year old) to cook with me, but most afternoons I make them play outside or in their rooms while I’m cooking dinner. The babies are still immobile but the moment they start crawling, they’ll be in a playpen faster than you can say blueberry pie. Nothing slows down dinner prep faster than kids in the kitchen.
PREPARE Double and Save for Future Meals: One idea is to double every recipe and put half in the freezer for a future meal. For some reason I find making two entire meals to be overwhelming on a weekday, so I typically just double components of a meal. If I’m making lasagna, I’ll double the sauce and freeze it so the next time I make lasagna, the sauce step is eliminated. If I’m making a pie, I’ll double the dough and freeze it. Meat spice rubs can be pre mixed and stored in an airtight container. Marinades can be doubled and frozen in baggies. Doubling the entire recipe may take some time, but doubling one component is usually very manageable.
Finally, WASH DISHES AS YOU COOK: I try not to let dishes pile up as I’m cooking. Prepping in the morning helps with this because the knives and tools you use then can be washed with the breakfast or lunch dishes, but I also wash measuring cups, pots, spoons, etc. as I’m cooking. Then at least when dinner is over and the race to bedtime begins, the kitchen isn’t in disarray.
These are all so simple, but together they help keep cooking a hobby – something I actually enjoy doing. With proper preparation, almost any meal can be a quick one.
Everyone at the BFBN is posting about Quick Dinners today! Check out what they’ve written: