I saw this tweet about meals recently from the comedian Simon Holland:
And I laughed out loud because that’s my life right now. And maybe yours!
‘Tis the season for sports practice, marching band, tutoring, games, concerts, club meetings, religious activities, music lessons, and general busyness. If you have multiple kids, you likely have various activities on several days of the week and it makes it hard to juggle everyone’s schedule and still get dinner in everyone’s belly.
My son plays high school football and is at school weekdays from 7:15 am until 7:30 pm. My husband and I eat dinner around 6:30, and then I go get my son. Once he’s home, he can heat up a plate. But what about the days I have something to do after work? Or what about Wednesdays when I volunteer at our church? Or when there’s a football game?
It takes some pre-planning, but there are ways to make it all work. Here are my tried-and-true dinner tips when everyone has practice!
Prep Meals Ahead
This is the biggest key for me: plan, plan, plan. Make the menu ahead of time, gather the ingredients and make sure that everything you can do ahead of time is done. Cut up the veggies early or even consider cooking the meat early for reheating later.
You can even prepare whole meals on the weekends ready for reheating on individual plates during the week when everyone trickles in from practice. My favorite things to make ahead are burgers, taco meat, meatloaf, and any kind of casserole.
What meals does your family like that make great leftovers?
Embrace the Crock Pot
I know pressure cookers are all the rage in recent years, and they have their place. But, I still prefer my crock pot, and it’s still relevant! From hearty soups to dump meals to delicious meats, crock pots are worth their weight in gold for busy families. Plus, once the meal is cooked, you can leave it to keep warm in the crock pot until everyone has eaten. Make clean up even easier with disposable crock pot liners.
My favorite crock pot dinners are chili, Italian chuck roast, and broccoli cheese soup.
The Freezer is Your Friend
Use your freezer to preserve crock pot dump meals, save leftovers and save extra time by freezing cooked meat and veggies for easy casseroles.
I like to cook batches of chicken on the weekend and then freeze in 1 pound packages for easy additions to casseroles or soup. It saves a lot of time!
Also, pack frozen lunches or on-the-go meals from portions of leftovers. I know my husband and I are always happy to grab a homemade meal from the freezer to add some variety to our work lunches.
Take Some Shortcuts
Shortcuts are not cheating and can still be healthy! Buy a rotisserie chicken to make meal prep easier. Pre-cut veggies and shredded cheese can save lots of time during the week, too. Consider trying some meal kits. King Soopers and Sprouts both have raw meal kits. Everything is put together; you just have to pop it in the oven! Work smarter, not harder.
Plan Times to Eat Out
We can’t cook and eat homemade food every meal every day. Keep realistic expectations and give yourself permission to eat out, visit the drive thru, pick up a pizza, and do delivery. Save these moments for the busiest of days when you are constantly on the go.