As a newly wed, I tried to make dinner around 5pm every night. It just seemed like the thing to do.
Then we had kids.
If you have children, you are probably aware of the evening crazy hour; that time of night when kids (and parents) are likely to lose it.
Preparing dinner during that hour can be challenging.
I've done a number of things to make it easier:
- setting the kids up with activities
- having the kids help me
- letting the kids watch a watching a DVD
- letting the kids play in their bedrooms while I cook
These helped to varying degrees.
But what helped the most was to prepare dinner earlier in the day. Much earlier.
For some reason morning or early afternoon are much calmer. Is it that way in your house?
I can get a whole meal in the crock pot right after breakfast without much fuss.
Maybe it's because no one is hungry.
Cooking for people who are already hungry stresses me out!
How to make dinner without going crazy:
1. Use the crock pot
The crock pot is my friend.
It is so much easier for me to put a meal in the crock pot early in the morning than cooking up at storm at 5pm.
It doesn't have to be fancy either; just pop in some frozen chicken breasts and a little barbeque sauce.
If you need crock pot recipes, check out Crock On! A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook
2. Work on dinner throughout the day
Another method of preparing dinner early is to work on parts of dinner throughout the day.
For example, I might cut up veggies in the morning and brown meat after lunch, then it only takes a few minutes to put it all together at dinner time. This method streamlines to dinner hour significantly.
3. Prepare freezer-friendly meals
One last method is to utilize your freezer. Do a big cook up once a week, once a month, or just make double of dinner occasionally and stock the freezer. Having meals ready to go makes dinner much less stressful.
What are your tips for getting dinner on the table without too much stress?