Do you run out of time to make a decent family meal at the end of the day? Too many school and social activities can get in your way? Think about keeping your meal preparation simple. Here are few tips:
- First, make time for dinner. Put a chalkboard or calendar in your kitchen to keep track of your family schedule. Then, coordinate dinner around what is happening with each family member. Dinner doesn’t have to be the same time each day. Just make a schedule and try hard to stick with it.
- Involve everyone in meal planning, preparation and clean-up. Choose a time, possibly on a Sunday evening when everyone in the family is available to discuss dinner choices as well as schedules. Then, divide tasks so that everyone can have a job. Age-specific jobs can be assigned for each family member. Try to give family members jobs that they like. A younger child can set the table, while an older sibling is making tacos or preparing food in the microwave. Find out what works best in your family.
- Keep essential ingredients on hand so you can avoid those last minute trips to the grocery store. By making a list from your weekly menus, you can shop one day and be prepared for the entire week. Don’t forget to include fresh vegetables and fruits. They are a quick and easy to prepare healthy addition to any meal.
- Finally, don’t forget to use leftovers, or as I call them – “planned overs.” By cooking extra on one day or during the weekend, you can be ready for a quick, easy meal on another day. An example might be cooking a whole turkey or chicken with a family dinner on Sunday; then using the leftover meat to make stir-fry, soup, sandwiches, on a salad, or in a pasta dish.
· Keep food safety in mind by always refrigerating any planned over in a shallow (2-3 inch container) within about 30 minutes of preparation and reheating them to over 165 degrees. Use within 3 days or freeze.
Work on making your life easier by planning your meals and including your whole family in the process.
Author: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.