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It’s well established that eating dinner at home is healthier and less expensive, but the process of getting dinner on the table can be a challenge. The hour before dinner is chaotic for a lot of households. There are four common roadblocks to eating at home, but they can all be overcome with a bit of planning.
Roadblock #1: Lack of Time
I was a full time homemaker for a few months before my son was born, due to a variety of unusual circumstances. I took advantage of that time to learn how to cook. During that season, I had time to make more elaborate meals. There’s nothing wrong with that, but now I need to streamline my cooking process. If I tried to do what I used to do right now, I’d probably give up on cooking altogether. Adjust your expectations to fit your circumstances.
One pot meals save time on prep as well as on cleaning. Search Pinterest to find a gold mine of 30 minute meals! You may also want to keep a stash of food in your freezer that can be heated up quickly. This Southwest Roll Ups recipe is a good homemade convenience food.
I keep a pack of frozen tilapia fillets on hand. When I don’t have much time to cook, I put them on my George Foreman grill, sprinkle them with some lemon pepper seasoning, and let them cook through. I usually serve them with canned green beans. Even if I haven’t remembered to thaw the tilapia, it still only takes about 15 minutes.
Roadblock #2: Lack of Energy
A lack of energy can be for any number of reasons. Maybe you have a child who doesn’t sleep through the night. Maybe your child is sick. Maybe you’re expecting. Maybe you’re anemic or have some other health condition. Whatever the cause, a lack of energy can mean that you feel completely wiped out by the evening.
This is not the time to get fancy with meals. I use my crockpot a lot when I don’t have much energy, but I’ve also heard great things about the Instant Pot.
You may also find that a rice cooker is worth the investment. I have a basic model from a special buy at Aldi, but it gets the job done. Instant brown rice is even easier, doesn’t require a special appliance, and it doesn’t spike your blood sugar like instant white rice does.
Give yourself grace! I’m so thankful for modern appliances!
Roadblock #3: Lack of Ingredients
If I don’t have the right ingredients to make something, it’s usually because I fell off the wagon with meal planning. Either I have to figure out a substitution, or I have to make a last minute trip to the store. Either of those options is stressful for me. (I know some ladies are pros at making substitutions though!) In my experience, extra trips to the store tend to end with me spending too much money.
When I had a young baby, I only wrote down dinners. Just doing that helped a lot with making sure we had the right supplies.
Roadblock #4: Colicky Babies or Cranky Children
I am a colic survivor. If you have a child who had colic, you know that survivor is the proper term. 😉 My baby screamed every night from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Cooking was not going to happen.
My freezer was pretty well stocked when he was born, but we did eventually run out of meals before the colic ended. Every Saturday, I made a new set of crockpot meals in gallon ziploc bags and froze them. My husband would try his best to keep the baby calm, but I typically stopped to nurse once or twice over the course of the project. I would pull out a new bag to thaw each day. Every morning, I dumped one of the bags into the crockpot. I even used those crockpot liners sometimes…shh.
Sometimes older children are just cranky. I try to give my toddler a snack in the afternoon, which seems to help him stay calm until dinner. You might decide that your cooking time is when your kids get to watch an episode of Veggie Tales. No shame!
What do you do to make cooking at home easier?