Mom, What’s for Dinner?

Food, it’s what’s for dinner. Right? I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of trying to figure out what to cook for dinner every…single….night.

On top of that, I try to make sure we have a fruit and/or veggie at each meal. Dinner is tough though. It comes at the most impacted part of the day – dinner time. This is also finish homework time, pick 7th grader up from track time, pick 6th grader up from friend’s house time, and get ready for theater rehearsal time…

I gotta say, ordering pizza sounds like a plan to me. Obviously we can’t do that every day though. So I have come up with a few strategies, tools, and tips that help me survive the week. Anything we can do as parents to minimize the stress on ourselves week after long week is great. It helps our kids be stronger and happier as well. So, here are my secrets to a successful week:

Strategy: Prep. Sundays are my grocery store days. Don’t get me wrong, I still go to the store a gazillion times during the week, but Sundays are when I get the essentials. That includes things for lunchboxes, dinner supplies, and other necessities (like coffee). This is the day I prep as much as I can for the week.

My 7th grader likes turkey and cheese sandwiches in his lunch. So I make sure there’s enough sliced cheese for that for the week. I pre pack bread slices into his Sistema sandwich containers so all that needs to get done each morning is put it all together. I’ll throw in apple sauce packets or granola bars, and a yogurt or salad. And of course a little treat.

My 6th grader is the pickiest eater on the planet, but she’s not without hope. The few things she will eat are actually pretty healthy, thank goodness. She likes plain iceberg lettuce, de-yolked hard boiled eggs (super easy to make ahead and have for the entire week), vitamin water, a gogurt or granola bar, and a treat. Sometimes I’ll add pieces of bread I’ve cut up using small cookie cutters. We’ve started calling them “bread babies.”

By taking the time on Sundays to lessen my work load during potentially hectic mornings, I really save myself a mountain of frustration throughout the week.

Tools: As for dinners, I’d die without my Hamilton Beach slow cooker. I looked really hard for a Crock Pot brand slow cooker (because that’s what my mom always had), but was unable to find a small programmable one that would work for me.

Here’s my fave recipe – throw all your junk in and walk away. That’s a recipe I can live with. Seriously. I make an epic Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwich that is to die for. Slow cookers are a busy parent’s best friend.

Tip of the Week: Plan ahead. When it comes to the dinner decisions, get them out of the way on Sundays. I always leave one or two nights for leftovers. That leaves four or five nights of dinner planning. Something like my Pulled BBQ Chicken will make a number of servings and easily last the week, if necessary, in the fridge. Added bonus- making multiple meals all at once saves on dirty dishes which saves you time.

When possible, I have the kids take turns cooking one night a week. One week, one of them will cook dinner on a Saturday, the next week the other will cook. It teaches them great planning and budgeting skills when they need to be in charge of preparing a meal. Saturdays are the calmest for us, so it’s a great day for it and it’s just one more way to bond with them. I love that they each have their own way of working in the kitchen too. My daughter pretty much mimics me – she likes quiet French jazz in the background and some “wine” while she cooks. My son is a little more technical. He likes getting absolutely everything out in advance and puts things away as he goes. Love these little cuties!

If you have any tips, tricks, or advice to survive the week, I’d sure love to hear it! Any help is always appreciated. We’re in this thing together.

As always, thanks so much for stopping by!

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