It can feel like a full time job getting dinner on the table every single night. One way or another, the family has to eat. If we don’t have strategies and plans to get dinner on the table even when time is crunched, we will find ourselves in the drive through more often than we like. I have made it my mission to help even busy families get nutritious food on the table with as little time spent in the kitchen as possible. Here are my favorite six dinner strategies for the busy mom!
6 Dinner Strategies for the Busy Mom
1. Power of Pressure Cooking
Pressure cooking has been around for many years. It is certainly not a new thing, and it is a powerful tool to getting dinner on the table fast. I was always afraid of pressure cooking, but I have changed my mind since I got my new electric pressure cooker, the Instant Pot. I have been absolutely amazed by how much this little baby cuts down on cooking time. Dry beans in 30-40 minutes, chicken in 15 minutes, soups and stews in no time, ribs in 40 minutes, boiled eggs in 5 minutes, spaghetti squash in 8 minutes, and more. I was absolutely sold the day that I made a beef stew with partially frozen meat in 40 minutes. If you have trouble remembering to meal plan, thaw meat, or throw something in the slow cooker before work, you will love the Instant Pot. An electric pressure cooker does take time to come to pressure though, so you wouldn’t want to put a beef stew in if you have to leave in 30 minutes.
2. Slow cooker freezer meals
I went to a fun party with a group of ladies a while ago where we put together 10 bags of slow cooker freezer meals. I honestly did not think I would enjoy them as much as I did, but they have been such a time saver for me. On days when I am gone all day, it’s so great coming home to a house that smells amazing and dinner is just about done.
It took about an hour to prep these ten bags, but now I simply put the frozen bag in the fridge the night before to defrost a bit so I can stick it in the slow cooker in the morning. So easy and so delicious. I have hopes to do more of these and share them with you in the future. In the mean time, check out The Family Freezer for a ton of ideas.
3. Prepping on the weekend
I have written on this before as a way to get more produce in your diet, but it also works for meal prepping. Cut up your vegetables, fruit, meat, etc on the weekend or when you have time, so they are ready to go throughout the week. Slice onions and peppers, hard boil eggs, make some salad dressing, batch cook dry beans, make breakfast sandwiches or burritos for breakfast, make bread or tortillas or whatever you will need throughout the week, so you only have to spend a few minutes at dinner time cooking the meal. A little time spent on the weekend can save a ton of time when the weekdays are busy.
4. Quick cooking main dishes
This has always been my preferred method of getting dinner the table fast for years. I recommend everyone make a list of 15-20 meals that you know how to make without a recipe and that take very little time to make. In our house some items on that list are:
- French toast
- scrambled eggs
- fish sticks
- beef and broccoli
- stir fry
- egg drop soup
- macaroni and cheese
- grilled sandwiches
- broiled fish
- salmon patties
- pan seared porkchops
- tortilla pizzas
5. No cook options
You don’t always have to necessarily cook dinner to get a healthy dinner on table. There are plenty on no-cook or low-cook options that we often eat for dinner. It may seem a little random, but what really matters is that our families are nourished and the bellies are full.
- cut up fruit
- raw vegetables
- cottage cheese
- avocado or guacamole
- chips and salsa
- fermented veggies (kraut, kimchi, dilly carrots, pickles, etc)
- cold sliced meats
- cold soups (think gazpacho)
- clean crackers with cheese or dips
- granola and milk
- fruit and nut butters
6. Turn leftovers into a new meal
This is one of my favorites that saves a ton of time. I almost feel like a broken record with this strategy, but it’s a goodie. Do you have leftover meat, beans, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies? Turn them into something new for another night. Put meat on a pizza or a pocket. Throw it in a soup. Spice it up and pile in on some rice for a burrito bowl. The same thing with beans and veggies. Throw them in a soup, quesadilla, casserole, or a bowl and you have a delicious second night meal that took minutes to make. With most of the ingredients already cooked, re-purposing can be extremely fast.
What strategies do you use to get dinner on the table quickly?