5 Time Saving Tips For Family Dinner

I have two sweet kids, 11 and 13, a hard working husband with his own business, a darling dog, 10 chickens on nearly two acres with a small orchard. As if that’s not enough to keep us busy, I’m a solo-preneur building my health coaching business. Most of the time, the house looks like a tornado hit it and the yard is in desperate need of a full-time landscaper (know anyone?). But even though we’re shuttling the kids to soccer practices and games 5 days a week, we still manage to eat a home-cooked and healthy dinner together as a family nearly every night.

How is that possible? Commitment and strategy. I am committed to (okay almost obsessed with) eating dinner as a family. I strongly believe that dinner together is the glue that holds a family together. I love the tradition of it, I love hearing about everyone’s day and I get to make sure my kids have decent table manners on a nightly basis. Quick and easy and a little planning ahead is the ticket to success here. So here are my time saving tips for easy breezy family dinners.

1. Everyone eats the same thing. This has been my personal rule since the kids were little. And to tell you the truth, it was to save my own sanity. I am not interested in being a short order cook, making something different for every member of the family. I am not even interested in making a “kid dinner” and an “adult dinner”. I introduced my kids to some non-kid type foods early on (i.e., kalamata olives, thai red curry) to ensure that I was only cooking one dinner.

2. Spend Sunday (or whatever day you like) planning, shopping and chopping. I think the hardest part about making dinner is coming up with what to make. I ask my family if they have any requests, and I keep their preferences in mind while meal planning. Buy as much of the food as possible on that one day so that during the week, you only have to pick up things that need to be fresh that day (like fish!). Clean, chop and prep anything you know you’ll be needing. I rarely do this step but I love the idea.

3. Cook once, eat twice. As often as possible, I cook twice as much as I would ordinarily and put half away in the freezer for another night’s dinner. Another angle on this is to cook twice as much of something and reuse it later in the week for a different dinner. I just did this with roasted chicken. I roasted two chickens at once on my big turkey sized roasting pan. I used the second one for chicken tacos later in the week.

4. Try one-pot cooking. I love recipes that cook the veggies with the meat and everything is ready at once. I roasted veggies at the same time as the chicken I mentioned above and I got to kick back for 45 minutes with a glass of wine while it all cooked its way to deliciousness. Another angle is doing the same thing on the stovetop, cooking your veggies in the skillet with your meat. Yum.

5. Cook simply. I occasionally cook entrees that take an hour and are more complicated. But usually I am searching for recipes using healthy food that I can make in under 30 minutes. If you have all the ingredients on hand, this really is not difficult. It doesn’t have to be fancy for a week night, just tasty. It’s much more about the experience of coming together as a family, eating wholesome food and enjoying a meal together.

To your health,

Laren Watson
Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach

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