A New Year and a Fresh Start at Getting Dinner Done

by Maria on January 3, 2012


Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but I had a busy December. Our usual schedule seemed to go out the window and finding time to cook and photograph CooksAid meals was challenging. Fortunately, the New Year is here and it seems to have given me fresh energy for getting back on track with healthy cooking and eating routines. 

If you are inspired to get organized and start cooking dinner more often this year, here are some of my tips:

  • First, make a realistic plan for how you can fit more cooking into your schedule. Maybe you can cook ahead of time, make use of the slow cooker, or just make sure are just more prepared with a dinner plan and ingredients on hand. Nothing is worse than worrying about what to make for dinner at 5 pm.
  • Incorporate cooking and prep time into your schedule. Just like you plan the dinners, make sure you plan in the time it will take to cook them. I generally set aside 4:30-5 pm for cooking and try to get dinner on the table by 5:15. But sometimes I prepare for dinner in the morning and sometimes dinner is a little later.
  • Pick simple dinners. Maybe set one night a week aside for trying a new, elaborate recipe, but for the most part meals should take less than 30 minutes to prepare.
  • Plan a cooking day. If you don’t have any time to cook in the evenings, set aside a three or four hour block of time on the weekend and cook for the week. Most meals can keep in the refrigerator for three days and if not, can be frozen. Often you can cook half a meal and if you have 10 minutes, finish the night you serve. For instance, you can make Bolognese sauce for pasta and then cook the pasta the night you serve it.
  • Make a weekly menu plan. Once you know what type of cooking you will do and when, pick your recipes, plan a week's worth of meals, write a grocery list, and shop. To really save time, choose from our numerous prepared weekly menus that come complete with a grocery list.

Additional tips:

  • Keep your weekly meal plan somewhere visible so that you can plan ahead if something needs to marinate overnight or defrost.
  • Use your computer or phone to help you remember what needs to get done. For instance, I use the Google calendar and will set it up to notify me with a reminder if I need to remember to pick up a particular ingredient that day or take meat out of the freezer to thaw.
  • Fall back on pantry dinners. Keep a binder with your favorite recipes and include a few that can be made with pantry staples. That way, you will never be left without a plan for dinner.
  • Get the kids involved. If the kids are looking for something to do while waiting for dinner to be ready have them help in the kitchen. There is generally always something that they can do, whether it’s peeling carrots or setting the table. My kids also love to have a say about what should be on the weekly menu plan. Let them pick a meal or a side or even a dessert. 

Stay tuned for more blog entries and articles on these and other tips, including specific recipe suggestions. 2012 is going to be a good year for cooking!


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