Getting dinner made has always been a challenge for me, even before my baby. The last few months, I have found a system that seems to work well for getting dinner on the table throughout the week for me so I wanted to share it!
STEP ONE: Identified the biggest challenge. What is your biggest challenge?
-- Staying in budget at the grocery store
️ -- Finding time to prep and cook
-- Having ingredients and seasonings on hand
-- Baby needs to be held from 5am to 9pm
-- 5:30pm, and NO IDEA what to do for dinner
Although ALL of these are problems for me from time to time, by far my biggest challenge was finding time to prep and cook. Narrowing that down, specifically it was the meat dishes- so much time to thaw, cook.... And then I had to add the side dishes!!! [Overwhelm]
Here is how I have addressed this problem over the last few months and it has INCREASED the number of meals we eat at home during the busy weekdays.
On Monday, right after lunch... I start cooking the meat for the week. Keeping things even simpler, I pick a large quantity of meat like breasts, legs, or whole chicken. Then pick three ways to cook it. BBQ, Jamaican, Cajun, Mediterranean, garlic&onion. Whatever you are looking for that week. Time for the cook storm.
Bake, stove top, or grill. Keep it simple, get the meat cooked! In the picture I have a huge tray of drumsticks with (just) two bowls of seasonings. I was being super lazy and slow today! After a little thaw in the microwave, I got the seasonings set up, the pan set up, then dip and pat & lay on the tray until done. McCormick seasoning packets are always a big hit for my family. Try two "tested and approved" and then try a new one in there for some spice. Whatever you want. You have OPTIONS because you are getting this done at the start of the week! Yes! Go Mom, right!?!
If I have the time, I pull out the rice cooker for brown rice & veggies, prep any fresh veggies for snacks or recipes throughout the week. Clean them, dice & chop, and place in small containers or zip lock bags. This makes things easy for "ready" prep ingredients.
In order for this to work, I have gotten good at having ingredients on hand.
Tips for having ingredients on hand:
(1) set up your pantry to have a "spot" for certain items. It will be easy to check the shelves before shopping to see what is missing.
(2) Also, I use a "All Out" type grocery list. See the picture below. My MIL gave this to me when I first got married, along with tons of grocery books and ideas. By far this tool has helped my shopping budget and reduced time in the grocery store for me. Super useful! When I am on my game, as I empty something I want to keep on hand - I immediately write it on this list. This has been very useful for keeping pantry stocked for family favorite and new recipes.
What are your tips, Mom? What is your major Getting Dinner DONE Dilemma?