Meal planning to help maximize our evenings at home while also getting a great dinner to the table each night.
(photo via: the fond life)
With us now having 2 kids at home that both require their own level of attention + needs, our time is precious in the evening hours. After we pick up cohen from daycare (between 5-6p), we usually have a couple hours before bedtime at 8p. That’s not a lot of time to squeeze in playing, bathing + preparing dinner. Previously, either ryan or I would stop at the grocery store every night to pick up the ingredients for our meal that evening. I always have stand-by items stocked in our kitchen but fresh produce + proteins required us to pit-stop regularly. Some nights we would end up eating closer to 7p. It then left us with little quality time before starting cohen’s bedtime routine.
In an attempt to make the most of our evening hours, I am putting into place a bit more structure with our meal planning. Growing up, my parents would make a weekly grocery list which comprised of 4-5 meals to eat during the week. When my parents got home from work, they would simple choose from the options they shopped for. Thus, dinner was ready in a snap. Hopefully the small changes we are making will give my family of 4, more quality time together each night. In addition, a delicious meal to enjoy as a family will be icing on the cake.
My Tips: Meal Planning for a Busy Family
- weekly planning: similar to my parents’ shopping list, I am planning out 2-3 meals to make each week. Taking into consideration the ingredients for each dish, I want to utilize a couple items from one meal to the next so, nothing goes to waste. Last week we made chicken tacos with flour tortillas, black beans + avocado. To finish up the tortillas, we used them as wraps for our grilled brats. I also made a big summer salad with the leftover black beans + avocado, combining them with tomatoes, cucumber, edamame + a red wine vinaigrette. This simple salad was a great side dish + light lunch option to snack on throughout the week.
- prep ingredients ahead of time: if I am in the kitchen sautéing onions on the stove, it is easy to chop up produce for the following night’s dinner at the same time. Likewise, if I can assemble a quick marinade for chicken, I will have half the prep taken care of for grilling later in the week. A bit of methodical planning will maximize my time in the kitchen.
- utilize meal-delivery services: when cohen was born, we started ordering from supper bell a few times a month. Their restaurant-quality dishes take less than 15 minutes in the oven + require no cleanup. #winwin. Meal delivery services + companies like hello fresh + blue apron are great time savers. I also like that companies like these, help mix up your dinner routine by introducing you to easy recipes that are not part of your regular repertoire.
- keep up tradition: my family loves breakfast for dinner on monday nights + it is honestly the easiest meal to prepare. Regardless of what we make, I always have ingredients on hand for some type of breakfast dish (waffles, omelets, eggs + bacon, pancakes). Plus, breakfast comes together so quickly that after a crazy monday, I love that our weekly tradition is a quick-fix.
Do you have any great tips to help meal prep or prepare a fast meal in the evening hours? There are so many parents who seem to have it all figured out and I would love the advice. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email!