As moms we have a lot of job descriptions. And whether you’re a brand new mom with a tiny infant or a mom of a dozen kids, at 5:00, we all face the same question…
What’s for dinner, and how am I getting it onto the table for my family?
I know I’ve mentioned what I call Chaos Hour before on this blog, and I can’t stress enough (no pun intended) that I am experiencing that on a higher level than ever before these past few weeks. For a number of reasons, we are always still extremely busy when it’s time for me to cook dinner. Some days it’s worse than others, sure, and the chaos and pressure during these couple of hours can test a mother like no other time of the day. (I know. I call it Chaos Hour. Singular. I guess that’s wishful thinking. In reality, it can be a couple hours or more. Anyway.)
I asked the question on my facebook page: What is your number one obstacle in getting dinner on the table? And I have to agree with every single one of you. It’s not just one thing, it seems. It’s all the things. Here they are and here is how I manage to get past these obstacles and still provide a hot dinner on our own kitchen table on busy nights.
Getting Dinner on the Table: Overcoming the Top 5 Obstacles
1. Not Having a Plan
Of course this is the number one obstacle in getting dinner on the table! It’s 5:00 and you’ve just thought about what to make for dinner for the first time today. Think you’re going to have a problem? Probably so. Unless you’re cool with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or cereal and milk, and I can tell you my husband and grown son are NOT going for that one!!
The solution is obvious, but you’re going to have to decide to commit to this one: a menu plan made in advance!!! Don’t know how to make one? Here are a few tips:
- Make the menu plan on a weekend, say Saturday before lunch.
- From that menu plan, create your grocery list.
- Now that that is done, you have the rest of the day Saturday or even Sunday to go and gather those groceries for the week.
- Go ahead and decide which meals you are having which days of the week, that way you know which mornings to set out meat to thaw.
2. Forgetting to Set Meat Out to Thaw
So, it’s 5:00 and you were wanting a roast or a pork loin for dinner, but it’s still frozen? Ain’t happenin’, sister. No matter how awesome your crock pot is. What to do? Two things:
- See number one – Be prepared by having the dinner plan and knowing which day to set out the meat. Set an alarm on your phone for that morning when you create your meal plan to remind you to pull it out of the freezer.
- If you end up forgetting, no sweat! Simply look at you menu plan and pick a different meal. That’s why it’s called a “plan”. There’s wiggle room, and even if you choose another meal, you know you have the ingredients because you shopped from your list! 🙂
3. The Kids are Needy and Cranky and I Don’t Have Time!
Chaos Hour is no new thing around here. See this quote from over a year ago from my facebook page…
Sound familiar? Oh boy. You ran errands in the early afternoon, and the toddler and preschooler fell asleep for a catnap and well, they’re tired and mad at the world now? Ooops. A few ideas to help, and this is just where reality hits your laptop screen, folks:
- Turn on a movie so you can cook anyway.
- Give them a light snack and have them sit at the table and watch you cook.
- Give them a jar of playdough and let them sit and play at the table while you work.
- Send them to the trampoline or the backyard with an older sibling.
- Let them color or do something crafty that they enjoy. (At the table. Not on the walls).
- If all else fails, just tell them you’ll be done soon and finish that dinner, mom. There will time for bath and cuddles soon.
4. I Just Don’t Want to Cook and I Feel Sorry For Myself
Dear friend, I hear you. I get you. I know what you’re saying. Been there.
Okay, now we have to get dinner on the table. How?
- Talk yourself into it. You can do it.
- See it as a privilege, even fun.
- Think of the money you’re saving NOT going out to eat.
- Think of the better nutrition you’re providing your family by not eating fast food.
- Make a simple meal. From the simple meal plan you created. That you already bought groceries for. Go. 🙂
- Utilize that crock pot! It’s your friend!!! Here’s a full week of crock pot meal ideas.
5. Boredom with the Same Old Meals
Tired of chicken, tacos, and spaghetti every week? Picky eaters make it hard to try new foods? (Read this helpful article on picky eaters.) It’s time to switch it up? But the problem is, we’re too tired to cook, let alone think about a menu plan, let alone think about a NEW menu plan. Here are a few ideas for how to keep it interesting.
- Pinterest will make you hungry. Scroll my food board for TONS of ideas.
- Subscribe to a blog with a menu plan and a recipe index. Like mine, or Heavenly Homemakers.
- Put a spin on your favorite meals. Like roast in the crock pot? Try it with chicken. Like tacos but tired of them? Make them with shredded chicken. Switch things up. Try homemade enchiladas. Or soup in the crock pot. Or turkey chili. Or garlic lemon chicken and pasta. Boom!
- Take a look at my cookbook called 42 Simple & Healthy Dinners. It’s packed full of nutritious, delicious dinner ideas.