It’s 5pm. Suddenly, you realize you have nothing to feed your family. Gosh, it’s like they want to eat every single day! At least once a week, it seems like you’re frantically searching Pinterest for how to solve the dinner dilemma.
But it’s official, you have nothing planned, and you know your people are going to start wondering what’s for dinner any minute now. Your options at this point are to order takeout, scrape something together, or hope no one realizes they’re hungry.
Takeout is expensive and doesn’t usually fit into dietary restrictions. Everything in your pantry takes ages to prepare, and no one wants to eat a casserole made from random cans of artichokes and sauerkraut leftover from recipes you never tried. And seriously, what are the odds these people you take care of are all going to forget about dinner? Slim to none, Mama.
You’re probably going to end up ordering pizza. Everyone likes pizza, and you can usually find a coupon to offset the delivery fee and tip. And you get to be the hero. Mom ordered pizza, yay!
Too bad it doesn’t make sense to rely on pizza every day. You need a plan for these situations.
How to Solve the Dinner Dilemma
Weekly Menu Plan and Shopping List
You can avoid the dinner dilemma by simply planning ahead. Make a meal plan, write out a grocery list, and purchase all your ingredients. This might sound like a no brainer, but according to a 2014 study, only 36% of people aged 18-36 make a grocery list when meal planning. So is the other 64% just hoping they’ll remember what to buy? Or maybe they don’t make it to the store and end up ordering pizza every day.
An easy way to plan ahead is to keep a list of meals that you know your family loves. Once you have 10-15 ideas, you can pull from those meals to make a plan that doesn’t have any repeats in consecutive weeks. Write the meals for each day on your calendar so you don’t forget.
Easy Family Favorites
Always keep the ingredients on hand for at least one family favorite meal that is quick and easy to make. Add those ingredients to your grocery list every time you use them, even if you don’t plan to make the meal in the next week.
One of our favorite meals is smoked sausage with sweet potatoes, onions, and red peppers. All the ingredients keep for quite a while without freezing, so there’s no worrying about having to defrost anything at the last minute.
Make Ahead Meals
This solution takes a little bit of pre-planning, but it is so worth it to not have to cook and scrub dirty pans each day. Another benefit is that you can portion out your servings to keep within dietary restrictions. Make a few different recipes each of proteins and grains, and wash and prep fresh vegetables.
The last time I did this, I made:
- a double batch of meatloaf
- 4 lbs of roasted chicken
- 4 lbs shredded salsa chicken in the slow cooker
- the biggest pot of rice that my rice cooker would hold
- peeled a dozen hard boiled eggs
- washed and prepped 8 varieties of fruits and vegetables
It took about 4 hours a Sunday afternoon (with a little extra slow cooker time), but when it was all done, not only did I have dinner prepped for every single day of the week, but I also had breakfasts, lunches, AND snacks covered. It was such a success, I think I’ll be doing this weekly.
The next time you experience that dinner dilemma, head to Instagram and check out #PRCDinnerTonight for ideas on something quick to make. Most ideas take 30 minutes or less, and use only a few ingredients that you can grab on your way home.
In the meantime, try to set aside some time to plan out your menu and grocery list, stock up on family favorites, and schedule a day to do some serious batch cooking. Now when your family shows up at the dinner table, you’ll be prepared!