With the part last weekend wrapped-up, I fully admit I didn’t feel much like cooking. But rather than resort to fast food and microwave meals, I bucked up, made a menu and managed to have a week’s worth of fairly quick and easy meals on an other-wise inspired week.
Having a few leftovers helped, of course, as it’s a lot easier to refashion one dish into another than to start from scratch. But whether you’ve got some soup stocked away in the freezer or just got your goodies from your local CSA (community-supported agriculture), planning your meals is the first way to make mealtimes easier to tackle. And if you’re starting from scratch, checking out the store’s sales papers or what’s in season for your area can be a good kick-start to your list-making.
Of course, if you know you’ve got a busy week ahead–like this week we had our anniversary and then the Greek Food Festival–it’s okay to give yourself permission to have a night off from the kitchen. It’s okay to go out one night (or two) if it’s part of the plan. And if you’re concerned about the health benefits (or lack thereof) of a night out, remember it’s all about balance. If you’re going to indulge one night, balance it out by going a little healthier the night before or after. What you want to avoid is planning to cook, getting overwhelmed by your schedule, and pulling in for fast-food and–just like a dieter that falls off the wagon–getting off-track, discouraged, and throwing the plan out of the window for the rest of the week or month.
So you’ve got your plan and you’ve looked ahead at your schedule, what else can you do to make getting dinner on the table something other than mission impossible? Prepping ahead! If you know you’re going to need diced onions for 3 meals this week, go ahead and chop them all when you’re preparing the first dinner and put the extra in containers in the fridge so you can just pull them out the next nights and get cooking. If you need hard-boiled eggs for a salad in a couple of days, go ahead and boil and peel them one evening after you’ve finished dinner for the night. Think ahead about what and when you can get some of the work out of the way and the next night will be so much easier.
So, to sum it up, here are my Top 3 Tips for Making Mealtime Easier:
- Plan your meals ahead so you never have to wonder “What’s for dinner?”
- Give yourself permission to take a night off if you or your schedule demands it.
- Prepare what you can ahead of time to make night-of preparation quicker.
What are your tips for making mealtime easier?