Monday, April 4, 2011

Making mealtime work

For me, the hardest part of the day comes twice: once when getting everything ready in the morning, and again when arriving home at the end of the work day.

In the evening, it's a rush to commute home so that those few precious hours before bedtime last as long as possible. However, on arrival, the next sprint in the race begins: what to make for dinner.

If you are

like me, you have grown up with mystery surrounding mealtime. It either decided by someone who is not me (thanks, Mom!) or it isn't until you get home and dstare at the fridge until you are inspired or your tummy grumbles (substitute this for your hungry child grumbling) that dinner finally happens.

I have learned that the best approach to mealtime can't involve any surprises and involves a little bit of prep work and decision-making.

Enter the family calendar.

My calendar sits prominently on the fridge door, adorned with labeled stickers and hand-written events. Mine was actually gifted to me and is from Wouldn't you know it, but this is the best place for meal planning to begin.

Start wi

th either writing down a specific meal (i.e. Shepherd's pie) or a generic type (i.e. Pasta) which takes a lot of guesswork out of your precious cooking time. Tip: take into consideration the events for the day when selecting a meal. Pasta is great if your child has a soccer game that night, and a crock pot roast is perfect for a busy evening or late arrival home.

The next step is to take your grocery list (mine is next to the calendar) and write out all the ingredients you need to shop for to make your week of meals. Now you aren't wasting time shopping, either! Tip: organize your grocery list according to the flow of your grocery store; that way you are less likely to miss an ingredient along the way.

At a loss for meal ideas? I started my journey using this method after receiving an amazing cooking/meal planning book called "More Time Moms". They have a companion iphone app and printable lists from their website and do

all the work for you! How helpful that?

Try it out and let me know what works or doesn't work for you. Right now I have to get myself home and make toasted deli sandwiches on onion buns with fresh veggies and dip. Who knew planning would be so helpful and fun!

-Laura Bee


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