In the last post “Why I Make Dinner Even When I Don’t Want To” I promised to share three things that I have discovered that make a HUMONGOUS difference is how smoothly our meals (and especially dinner) go. Here they are:
- Plan your meals ahead of time
- Prep your meals ahead of time
- Set the table for the next meal as part of your clean up from the last meal
Plan your meals ahead of time
I plan all of our meals for the next week on Saturday or Sunday. It takes some time to figure out what we have for leftovers, what’s in the freezer, what’s going on that week as far as our activities go, and what the weather will be like. All these things affect my meal planning. If we have piano lessons from 5-6 one night, we’ll have leftovers or I’ll put something in the crock pot. We’re between seasons right now, so sometimes the weather is hot and sometimes it’s cold. I’ve been pretty proud of myself when I have chicken soup ready on the coldest day of the week, but cold tuna and egg salad three days later when it warmed up outside.
Planning ahead is well worth it! I can make sure I get all my ingredients at the store and I’m not wasting time trying to figure out what I can make with the ingredients I’ve got when I want to feed everyone in 30 minutes. I did that for years and once I started planning ahead, I’ve never looked back. It’s a huge stress reliever to know what’s for dinner ahead of time. (If you do find yourself trying to make a meal out of a few things you’ve got on hand, consult SuperCook.com. You type in the ingredients you have and it suggests meals for you. It’s a great resource!)
I resisted this idea for over a year after I first heard of it. I travel 30 minutes to the nearest grocery store and when I’m in town, I stack all my chores. A typical trip to town lasts about four hours, and the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was meal prep … until I finally tried it.
I found that when I get home, I’m looking forward to using all the lovely food I’d bought, so it was good to ride that momentum and prep ahead. Plus, having meals already done or at least partially done saves so much time and stress when it comes to putting the meals together. Because of those things, I fell in love with meal prepping right away.
Think about how restaurants function so that you can waltz in, order anything on the menu, and they can get it to you in short order. Efficiency comes from planning and prepping ahead.
Setting the Table Ahead of Time
Here’s another thing I resisted and still struggle to remember, but I love it when I do. As part of my clean up, I set the table for the next meal. It’s amazing how much smoother everything goes when the table’s already set.
If you have any other ideas, please share them! Having smoother meals definitely contributes to …
Happy Home Evenings!