Organizational Tips for Mealtime

photo credit: JR3

While getting your children raised properly is the largest goal of any parent, staying organized in the process is another important goal. Let’s face it. It’s hard to stay organized when we’ve got little ones running around…even with teenagers it can be difficult. And, one of the most difficult areas to stay organized in is with planning the family meals.

For example, how many of you have had a dinner planned out and are in the process of cooking when you realize you’re missing one of the key ingredients? Or, it’s 6pm and you’re running around trying to figure out something to quickly prepare to feed your hungry (and irritable) family? While it’s impossible to stay organized all the time in the dinner department, the following tips should help you out some.

Create a Weekly Menu: One of the most valuable tips I’ve ran across is to create a weekly menu at the beginning of every week – or whenever you go to the grocery store. Not only will this save you time at night because you’ll already know what you’re having for dinner, but it will also ensure that you get the ingredients you need when you do your weekly grocery run.

Reduce Chaos by Assigning Jobs: Deciding what to have for dinner is only half of what’s involved at mealtime. You can reduce the chaos surrounding mealtime by giving everyone in the family a job to do. For example, while you’re preparing the food, you can have one child setting the table while another child is filling the glasses up with ice and water.

When your children get older, you can take this one step further and give each child one night that they are in charge of planning and preparing dinner. Of course, they will need to determine what they are going to fix for dinner and let you know ahead of time so you can get the ingredients. This will not only teach them how to cook, but how to plan as well. Also, on the nights your children aren’t cooking, make them responsible for the cleanup. This will eliminate any thoughts of who is going to clean up and make mealtime that much more pleasant for everyone.

Buy Extra: When you go to the grocery store with your weekly menu and grocery list, buy extra. You may not want to buy two of everything, but if you’re making a meal that you know everyone is fond of then go ahead buy extra ingredients so that you’ll already have another meal at home for the next week. This also makes it easy when you have to prepare a quick meal for someone who has just had a baby or suffered a loss.

Plan Several Meals Around One Ingredient: If you are planning on fixing spaghetti one night for dinner and know that you’ll need ground hamburger meat, then try to find another recipe that requires ground meat for the next evening. Then, as your preparing the meat for spaghetti, you can go ahead and prepare the extra meat for the next evening. This too, will save you loads of time…and dishes!

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