Hands up who’s wanted to bury their head in the sand and escape mealtime prep? I LOVE my food and I love nourishing my family but honestly, getting a meal on the table can feel like the least favourite and most stressful part of my day. Let’s face it, by dinner time everyone is tired and hungry and if you haven’t got some strategies to help, meltdowns and tantrums can erupt. Until recently my problem was lack of planning and a little itty bit of procrastination. I’d get (deliberately) carried away with another activity when WOAH, before you know it it’s that time, again, and I’m feeling all the stresses, and the guilts and, quite frankly, I’d had enough. Sooooo I figured I needed to get out of the dinner time rut and while I still dive in there sometimes, these days I’m feeling a wee bit more in control thanks to the following strategies which I do hope might help you too.
Kind of obvious isn’t it? But it also happens to be the one that I suck at the most and the one which, when I stay on top of it, has the biggest impact on my dinner time dramas. We are so lucky to have such easy access to so many gorgeous recipes, we just need to find a time to sit down each week with a lovely bevvy and get inspired. Once you’ve decided on your meals you can plan your shop and crack on.
PROS – You know what you are having so are ahead of the game. Save money
CONS – You need to commit to spending half an hour or so each week planning your meals but it is so worth it.
TIP – Use a meal planner so that you and your family can see the meals in ahead. Shop online to save the time of going to the supermarket and to avoid in-aisle temptations.
Cooking up big
I absolutely LOVE leftovers! Wherever possible I’ll make double or triple so that I can stock the freezer or have the same meal again later in the week.
PROS – Takes hardly any more time, no extra cost
CONS – Can feel a bit repetitious and even if the meal wasn’t great, it’s on the menu again.
TIP – Choose a meal that can be served differently to make it feel like a different meal like bolognaise sauce served with pasta one night, nachos the next night.
Quick and easy meals
We all have a “cheat” meal that we can fall back on and when the going get’s tough, I rely on these A LOT. My fave cheat meals are baked potatoes with whatever is in the fridge, beans on toast, omelette, and toasted sandwiches.
PROS – Super quick, cheap and easy.
CONS – You may need to make a separate meal for the adults.
TIPS – Make sure your cheat meals are ones that your kids enjoy so you don’t have to deal with fussy drama’s on quick and easy nights!
In the summer (and into the winter!) we use our BBQ A LOT! Grilled chicken breast or lamb with salad is one of our go to’s as it is SO easy and enjoyed by all.
PROS – Quick and healthy when you serve with lots of salad and vege’s
CONS – It can get a bit repetitious
TIPS – Have some spice blend on hand to turn plain meat into something extra yummy. We love redspice
In the winter, oh my goodness the slow cooker is my best friend. For very little morning prep, by dinner time, our meal is ready, and evenings are my own! I've recently started to experiment with a pressure cooker as well and the potential time saving here is HUGE without compromise of taste (in fact, quite the opposite!)
PROS – Hearty and delicious for very little time input
CONS – You need to get the meal on in the morning or the night before
TIP - Whitlocks sauces are amazing as they make everything so yummy and are not loaded with preservatives, salt or sugar. I always have some on hand.
At Christmas time we ordered a huge meal box for the first time and not having to battle the crowds and the rush at the supermarket with a 4-month-old and my boys in tow was an absolute game changer! I loved it so much I decided to continue for a little while to save on the time and effort of a) planning what to cook b) going to the supermarket for ingredients.
PROS – No stress having to decide what to cook. All the ingredients are supplied for you. You learn how to cook food in a new way.
CONS – More expensive than buying the ingredients on their own. Meals can get a big repetitious. Meals can take longer to cook than your trusted favourites.
TIP – Move between subscription companies to get some variety and to take advantage of introductory discount offers.
Fruit and vege box subscription
I have had a subscription for a fruit and vege box for a few years now and quite honestly, I wouldn’t be without it. I have found Harvest2home absolutely brilliant as you can swap out what you don’t want for something else and all of their produce is spray free or organic.
PROS – Fresh fruit and vege’s delivered to your door. Produce is always seasonal and you have access to varieties of fruit and veg that you might not have access to otherwise.
CONS – Depending on the company you are with it can be a little bit pricier but when comparing item for item I often find I am saving money.
TIPS – If your vege box company provides recipes to give you new ideas on how to use seasonal produce be sure to use them for inspiration.
Never lose site of how lucky you are to food to prepare, a home to prepare it in and a bed to crawl into at the end of a long day. When I am really feeling up against it, I remind myself how lucky I am and this simple shift in mindset has transformed many of my evenings. Playing some banging good tunes is another great way to help turn your mood around 😉
So lovely one, here’s a toast to having food to eat, a kitchen to cook it in and some easy tricks that give us back our evenings