The Family Dinner: 10 Fast and Simple Tips 10 ways to make the family dinner easy again. BY CHERYL TALLMAN & JOAN AHLERS
Every meal does not have to be a gourmet meal in order to eat well.
“ Look for books that offer shortcuts, pre-written shopping lists and menu ideas.”
Homemade foods are healthier than processed, prepared or restaurant meals. Take-out foods and prepared foods are generally much higher in fat, salt and calories than home-cooked foods. We encourage you or your spouse to make home-cooked dinners at least three times per week.
If just the thought of making dinner exhausts you, here are a few tips to ease the burden of getting dinner on the table during your busy week:
1. Set aside time on the weekends to make foods in advance and freeze them. Connect with a friend, double the recipes and split up the meals for both families.
2. Don’t schedule your kid’s day out so heavily that it intrudes on time to prepare dinner. Instead, invite the kids into the kitchen and teach them a few things about cooking—it’s life skill that they will certainly thank you for some day!
3. Invest in a slow cooker. This is a fabulous machine for busy families. You can prepare your main dish in the morning and come home to a delicious ready-to- eat meal.
4. Buy pre-washed veggies in the produce section of stores. The clean and prep is often the most time consuming part of cooking.
5. Buy "no cook" items like apples, pears, avocadoes and tomatoes. A fruit plate or veggie salad makes a terrific side dish.
6. Keep it simple. There is no need to strive for gourmet everyday. It is often the simpler dishes that have the best flavors, too.
7. Share the burden. Team up with a friend and have a family dinner at their house one night and switch to your house on another. For a different twist on the same concept, divide up the menu between families and share the work.
8. Plan your menus and make a grocery list. These two steps require finding spare time, but they will save it in the long run.
9. Buy some cookbooks with titles like, meals in 30 minutes, slow cooker recipes or 5 ingredients or less. These types of books are geared toward getting meals on the table quickly and easily. Look for books that offer shortcuts, pre-written shopping lists and menu ideas.
10. Make extra for leftovers. It goes without saying; leftovers make great lunches and snacks. If you’re making a family favorite, double the recipe and freeze a portion for next week.
Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby (www.FreshBaby.com). They are the creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit and Good Clean Fun Placemats, available at many fine specialty stores and national chains including Target and Whole Foods Markets.