Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Five Tips for (Less Stressful) Weeknight Dinners (without a single take out order on the list)

If your family is like ours, you could use some tips for an easier dinner time.  Either you have little ones who have decided that the hours between 4.30pm and 6.30pm are what we fondly call witching hour, or you work and have to rush to get dinner on the table, or you have tons of activities that start in the late afternoon (Hello, soccer practice, church activities, tae kwon do), or...yikes...you have all of the above!

So, here are some of the things that I have found help out in our house.  They are probably things we've all thought about and/or done, but I know that sometimes I need a bullet pointed list to remind me...

 
1. Plan. plan. plan.  Really, 15 minutes planning meals for the week will save you a lot of time, energy and frustration later--not to mention time, money, and nutrition on takeout.  We've got a fun free menu planning printable here.
 
2. Sneak veggies into your main dish to make it a complete meal, without any fussing about not wanting to eat vegetables.  These veggie cubes will save you a lot of time. 
 
3. When you do cook, cook enough for one or two meals and put extra in the freezer.  Nothing beats real food you can heat up quickly.
 
4. Breakfast for dinner.  We usually have breakfast for dinner one night a week.  Lately, it's been on soccer nights.  My kids think I'm a hero on breakfast for dinner night.   We love French Toast, Sausage, Egg and Cheese Casserole (shhh--don't tell my kids I pack it with veggies), scrambled eggs, and these awesome Pancakes!
 
5. Have a Left-Over Rodeo.  (yes, we do name almost everything in our house--it gets my son to eat).  Pull out all those leftovers that, individually, aren't enough to make one meal.  Heat them up, put them on the table, and declare it first come, first served.  If they want a favorite, they will show up first.  
 
What are your tricks for making dinner time easier?

 

85 comments:

  1. My children love breakfast for dinner, their favorite being pancakes with bacon. Unfortunately, except for my husband, we are not too big on eating leftovers, although that would make things much easier for me. (The only exception is leftover pizza.) :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. We definitely need some help with this. We sometimes do breakfast for dinner, which the kids and I like allot.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Really great tips! I don't know why I always stress myself out with making a big dinner. I really think it's because I don't plan enough. It's funny about breakfast for dinner...every time I've ever done that, my kids were SO weirded out by it lol

    ReplyDelete
  4. My biggest challenge is PLANNING. I hate thinking about what is for dinner never mind picking a whole weeks worth! I need to work on this more!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. These are some great tips! I love the one about sneaking veggies into your meals!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't think your menu planning printable link is working but I would love to check it out! I definitely need to get better at the sneaking-in-veggies idea. I've read about it before but never do the pre-planning to make it happen. I try not to push the veggies at dinner because I don't like the stress but I always beat myself up internally about it a bit - this would solve both problems :) And, I totally agree... leftovers leftovers leftovers!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great tips! Although, I've tried cooking two meals at once... the 2nd one always gets gobbled up later in the evening. Same with leftovers. I have to figure out a way to sneak it in the freezer before anybody gets wise.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sometimes we plan dinner here. Most of the time it's "pull something out of the freezer for tomorrow" then the next day we figure out what to make with it. The problem we have with planning is no one ever wants what anyone else wants and half the time most of us change our minds. We definitely love leftover night though. Some foods taste better the next day.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I really do need to get better about planning. I find that I scramble to make dinner a lot during the week and it would go a lot smoother if I planned.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Breakfast for dinner is always my go to! Great tips for a less stressful meal!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great tips! I'm usually terrible at preparing meals at home and always go for the easy take out option! But I'm definitely going to try and change and these tips are a great start!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm doing better at preparing and menu planning, but I still stink at remembering to take things out of the freezer to defrost :/

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great tips. This might help with the dinner frustrations.

    ReplyDelete
  14. We've not done breakfast for dinner in a while.. Need to hop back on that train... Love the rodeo idea..

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm all about #3!! Cook once, eat twice. Or thrice. I'm cooking dinner NOW at 1 pm because we'll be gone from 3-6 tonight and it's too late when we get home to cook :(

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love breakfast for dinner! I could eat breakfast for all 3 meals! Love the other tips too. I think we all are more busy than we used to be.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Breaklfast for dinner is the best! IT's so easy, cheap and fast!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great tips, I love #1 and 3. Planning is everything - easier grocery shopping, easier meal prep. and 3 goes along with 1, if you plan for it you can make an extra meal for those busy nights when you have no time!

    ReplyDelete
  19. These are great tips! Sometimes I just hate making dinner on the week nights. My daughter has become so picky, it's impossible. I need to be better about meal planning!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm all about #3 and 4!!! When I cook, I cook big. At first it was because I'm from a large family. So I didn't know how to cook in smaller portions when I got married. But it turned out to be a blessing. Now I almost always over cook and we use it for leftovers. And breakfast for dinner is usually done at least once a week around here. It's a favorite for everyone! Plus I over cook that too; and then the kids have left over pancakes and waffles for breakfast the rest of the week.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think planning is the hardest part. The weeks that I do best are when I've made lists of everything and made sure we have all the ingredients. Also, I try to double up on the recipes so we have leftovers.

    ReplyDelete
  22. We do the left over rodeo sometimes too. I pull out all the leftovers from the fridge, heat them and set them on the table. The kids can usually find something they want.

    ReplyDelete
  23. These are great tips, thanks for sharing. I'm lucky enough that I don't have to do the cooking right now. If I did, I'm certain it would be take out because there's just not enough time in my day, even if I only needed 15 minutes!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Breakfast for dinner is a cool idea, but that's what I do anyways! Glad I'm not the only one :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. My trick for making dinner is to get Caesar (my spoiled baby) to sleep if his father isn't home. Once he is sleeping everything is easy breezy. Thanks for sharing these amazing tips. I could totally see myself using them all.

    ReplyDelete
  26. These are great tips! We have done breakfast for dinner many times and I do try and sneak in veggies any way I can!!!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Its just me, no children... but great tips for any age.

    ReplyDelete
  28. These are great tips. I wish I had some great tips other than picking up the phone and ordering, LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Have to try out your Perfect panckae recipe! Those look really delicious! Thanks for sharing tips for weeknight meals!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Meal planning is essential in my house! We do a leftover night, too. It helps to clean out the fridge!

    ReplyDelete
  31. That redo idea is genius! Breakfast for dinner is a favorite meatless meal at our house, sneak one of those in a week and it saves some good money!

    ReplyDelete
  32. We cook as much as we can in advanced. This allows the nights to run smoother as al I usually have to do is pop it in the oven.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Breakfast for dinner is an absolute favorite of mine. Yum! I really need to work on meal planning.

    ReplyDelete
  34. While I still prefer the takeout meals, my wallet doesnt, so I appreciate these tips. Especially always making extra.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have a terribly problem with planning. We usually only make enough for that night though unless it's something in the Crock Pot. I really could make use of your tips!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thanks for the tips! I need help with dinner planning. lol

    ReplyDelete
  37. Love these tips! My biggest problem is to make sure I plan for the week every Sunday :)

    ReplyDelete
  38. I'm an emeals girl. I never have to plan, and since we use the clean eating plan, there's always veggies on there/ That's two steps off my list!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I love planning, but hate leftovers. Thanks for posting a tip for less stressful nights though, that is something every mom needs.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I am very bad at meal planning. I have to take some notes from you. Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  41. I usually do meals that will roll over into each other. One night I will have a dish that the left overs will create the meal for the next night. It saves time and money as less food is wasted.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I always make sure that the bigger meals I make will last a few days. Whenever I make big dishes like lasagna I always freeze the leftovers so we can enjoy them for lunch or dinner through the week.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Love your tips! I've been making crock pot freezer meals the past couple of weeks. I spend an hour or so on the weekend preparing everything and freezing it. Then just throw a meal in the crock pot in the morning and dinner is ready when you get home. I've saved a ton of time doing this and don't have to face the "what's for dinner?" question every night.

    ReplyDelete
  44. as long as I think ahead then we don't eat out. We've spent so much money over the years eating out it drives me crazy

    ReplyDelete
  45. I try to plan my meals out when I look at the grocery store ads each week. It works out pretty well for me. Oh, and we love breakfast for dinner...we do it about once a month but really should do it more often considering the low cost. Thanks for sharing your tips!
    -Janel C.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I try to plan my meals around the weekly grocery ads and it works pretty well for me. We love having breakfast for dinner but only do it about once a month. I'm thinking of serving it more than that since the cost is relatively cheap.
    -Janel C.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I love your Left over Rodeo idea! Planning meals is such a challenge for me. It doesn't seem like it should be hard, but still I never manage to do it.

    ReplyDelete
  48. These are great tips. We do the breakfast for dinner occasionally and it really is a less stressful meal lOL

    ReplyDelete
  49. Great tips! If I don't plan EVERY meal, it doesn't happen. It takes me a while to menu plan but it's worth it!

    ReplyDelete
  50. I love tips for making dinner easier, especially when it seems like there is so much to do during dinner prep time. We always have homework going on, and that takes up a lot of my time.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Love your tips! I love cooking nice beautiful dinners for my family, but it DEF requires planning on my part. Some weeks I rock at it, some weeks I slack. Also, LOVE the crockpot!

    ReplyDelete
  52. When all else fails, I do a breakfast dinner. It's always quick and easy and everyone in the house loves it! Great tips here, some I never even thought of doing!

    ReplyDelete
  53. We have been getting better about leftover Rodeos. Hahaha I love the name. Whatever works, right? :)

    ReplyDelete
  54. We use to meal plan and I'm trying to remember to do it again. I love making crockpot meals for the freezer though! So easy and so worth it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What are your favorite crockpot freezer meals? I really need to start doing some of those!

      Delete
  55. I love the idea of the Rodeo!!! I wish my husband would eat left overs.. He is VERY AGAINST it. I better get to planning next week's meals!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha! my husband is so into leftovers that he would eat meat that had been in the fridge for 10 days. LOL.

      Delete
  56. These are great tips. My favorite is the one to plan. It seems simple enough, but in the end it really does make a huge difference!

    ReplyDelete
  57. I like your tips! I am all about making life easier when it comes to dinner!

    ReplyDelete
  58. we usually do leftovers on teh weekend. I love to plan so that I avoid takout.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Planning ahead has made weekday meals so much easier for us. Also, we use our crock pot a lot so prep time is cut down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so with you on the crock pot! I love my crock pot, and I should really use it more!

      Delete
  60. Meal planning can really save money and time! I want to do more of it.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Agreed, planning is a huge time, energy and money saver. Leftovers never go to waste here, either they're a meal for one or an ingredient for something else.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually have a hard time with leftovers, but I make a concerted effort. If I don't plan to use them, they end up getting tossed.

      Delete
  62. Great tips!! With school, homework, working at home, sports -- dinner time can get crazy!

    ReplyDelete
  63. I love the veggie cube ideas! I sneak veggies into things all the time and this in one more way to do it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! what are you favorite veggies to sneak in?

      Delete
  64. I meal plan every week. It really saves a lot of time. Great tips!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I really had to get in the habit of meal planning. I was so used to flying by the seat of my pants. Is there a specific day/time that you set aside for meal planning, grocery shopping, etc?

      Delete
    2. I usually do my grocery shopping on the weekends so I just put aside some time during the week to get it done. Good luck with it!

      Delete
  65. I really do need to menu plan, I been struggling to try and balance what I can eat vs what I can't eat and making sure my family get's things they like with what we can afford. I am also attempting to coupon. Not like a crazy coupon but to start saving our house more money for the week. I met a lady that can do it all for a family of 6 for 100 a week. You have challenged me to at least come up with a menu for the week. thanks for the tips. love the printable by the way. ~Amanda Ripsam~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I were better at clipping coupons. I just never seem to get it together to clip the ones I need. which is too bad, because every day is double coupon day at my favorite supermarket. do you have favorite coupon websites that you use?

      Delete
  66. You had me at less stressful! I would love to sit down and do a little bit of meal planning each week, but I usually get so hungry that I run out and buy a bag of Oreo's... then fill up with all sorts of other junk while I'm there :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha! I hear you! oreos are one of my weaknesses. :)

      Delete
  67. Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite things ever, ever, ever. I don't think I'll ever get tired of that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I completely agree! What is your favorite breakfast dish?

      Delete
  68. I'm one of the weirdos who loves leftovers. I even like to mix them all up!

    ReplyDelete
  69. I think cooking extra to put some away for another meal is a great idea. I really want to start once a month cooking...but I just haven't.

    ReplyDelete
  70. My only tip is doing as much as possible on the weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  71. These are great tips. Stress free mealtime is something good for all families.

    ReplyDelete
  72. I do pancakes for dinner from time to time. Or sausage with hashbrowns. It's just so delicious and easy to make. And my son loves it!

    ReplyDelete
  73. Leftover rodeo is a genius idea! I really need to plan my meals out more often :)

    ReplyDelete
  74. I love the idea of making breakfast for dinner. We don't do this often but there are nights where pancakes have been so good for dinner.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Numbers 4 & 5 are really big at my house. Breakfast is one of our favorite, fast dinners. And I even do leftover rodeos for lunch when I'm busy working.

    ReplyDelete

Join the Conversation! I love comments!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...