Dinner time for us is the most hectic time of the day. The kids are on overdrive and usually require constant mediation. And, there is very hungry baby attached to my leg while I am trying to cook who knows if I am in the kitchen, there is food involved. My tactics to keep them occupied last, only so long. Therefore; if I want to keep my sanity, dinner has to be quick and easy.
Plan ahead: A weekly menu is my shopping list and it eliminates the hassle of trying to find something to cook at the last minute. I always know what is for dinner ahead of time and plan accordingly. That may include dicing vegetables in the morning or at lunch time.
Double a Recipe: When I make a meal that will freeze well, I double or triple it and freeze for later. Sauces generally take the most time to make. I like to make extra and freeze it in plastic bags or plastic containers. The same goes for soups.
Restaurant Night: This idea I found on budget101. We are not big on leftovers, so I freeze what is left in individual portions. One night when I do not feel like cooking, we have a restaurant night. Everyone gets to choose what they want to eat.
Crock Pot Dinners: Fast and easy. Just throw in the ingredients and leave it. Add a couple side dishes for a complete meal. Clean up is just as quick.
Three Meals Out of One: A whole chicken transforms into Chicken Pot Pie, Chicken Soup, a dinner salad and enchiladas. Make a pot roast with roasted veggies, Stroganoff with potatoes, beef stew, tacos and Asian beef stir-fry. Tomatoes become pizzas, spaghetti with sausage, chicken parmesan with left over spaghetti. If I have time in the kitchen, I put the meals together all at the same time and then refrigerate or freeze them.
Make Dinner in the morning: A friend of mine cooks dinner in the morning. Come 5:00 all she has to do is heat it up.
The Grill: Another friend of mine takes out the meat in the morning and puts it in a dish or plastic bag, pours in a marinade such as Italian dressing and puts the dish back in the refrigerator. When she gets home from work, she fires up the grill. While the meat is cooking, she puts together a few simple sides dishes.
30-Day Meals: At the beginning of the month, my sister lays out her recipe cards for the whole month and makes a shopping list. Once she gets the food home, she separates it into piles: beef, chicken, tomato, etc. She divides up the meat into portions and puts them in freezer bags, adds marinade such as Yoshida’s Teriyaki sauce, juice, tomato sauce, seasonings, Italian dressing-liquid or power, then places the meat in the freezer. When it is time for dinner, she pulls out a meat, puts it in a casserole dish, adds some frozen veggies and bakes it while she takes a walk.