Five Steps to Stay Out of the Drive Thru

5 Steps to Staying out of the Drive Thru

It’s possible to use a little organization to turn dinnertime into a manageable routine without falling into the same ‘ol, same ‘ol. A few minutes of preparation prevents the added stress of trying to figure out what to cook while hungry family members prowl the kitchen asking, “Mom, is dinner ready yet?” Here are five tips help keep mealtimes under control with minimal effort.

1. Create or find a Meal Plan. Use a Meal Plan to build a grocery list. If you need a jumping off point, try the 3-Day Jumpstart, which has a Prep Guide, Meal Plan, Shopping List, and simple Recipes. A Meal Plan doesn’t have to be strict. I write mine with our schedule in mind, quick meals or planned leftovers are saved for the busiest days. Don’t consider a plan a failure if it has to be changed to accommodate unexpected events. As a side benefit, having a plan helps prevent food waste.

2. Do not short order cook. Take family members’ tastes and needs into consideration while Meal Planning, try not to cater to whims. Dinner is dinner. If a child simply cannot eat what is served, a simple sandwich or a bowl of cereal can be their alternative, but only under extenuating circumstances. Remember to not base a child’s nutritional intake on a single meal, a good rule of thumb is to watch their intake over the course of a week. If they skip the vegetables on one day they may make up for it the next. The key is to make sure most meals are generally nutritious and that they aren’t holding out for junk food at every other meal. Obviously, if you are a parent with a special needs child, this may not apply.

3. Theme nights are fun! Up until my kids went to college, Tuesday nights was “Taco Tuesday.” Whatever fits your style will reduce the number of meals that require thought and effort.

4. Cook once, eat twice. Familiarize yourself with planned leftovers. Tonight’s roasted chicken can be shredded and mixed with cheese and beans to create quesadillas. Yesterday’s lentil stew can be tomorrow’s taco filling. A little creativity can save a lot of effort.

5. Have a backup plan. Sometimes activities run late or someone is sick. For those nights it’s nice to always have a “go to” meal. For example, keep a jar of your favorite pasta sauce and noodles in the cabinet and garlic bread in the freezer. Whenever these items are used, add them to your grocery list.

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