Top 5 Dinner Hacks for Busy Familes

Statistics show that we're feeling busier than ever these days, so any way we can maintain meaningful relationships, while sticking to our hectic schedules, we're all in!

Dinnertime is vital to family cohesiveness, and often the only time of day when everyone can be sitting together in the same room, attention fully on each other.  Use this time to talk about your day, bond, laugh, and create positive, lasting memories!

Here are five ways to save time, lessen stress, and make dinner time the best time of your day!


dinner hacks for busy families


1. USE YOUR GADGETS!  Make good use of your pressure cooker (aka. Instant Pot, etc.) and slow cooker (aka. Crock Pot, etc.)


"Ain't nobody got time for that!" is a popular meme for just about everything these days.  It doesn't matter if you stay-at-home, work a full-time job, are in school, or simply have a lot on your plate, if there's a way to make dinner go faster, smoother, and taste great, using your InstaPot or Crock Pot is THE way to go!  Toss some simple ingredients in, and let these kitchen gadgets do their thing!


2. SHOP TO COMPLETE MEALS.  Take a look in your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what you have already available, then shop to complete the meals that week.


I'm ALL about finding ways to streamline and make things more efficient!  Why?  Because efficiency means things go quicker, thereby freeing up time to do things that I WANT to do!  Grocery shopping to complete meals not only saves you money, it saves you time.  Because you're thinking about what you're going to make in advance, you're not scrambling to figure it all out while the kids are already hungry and cranky!

Example 1:  Have you potatoes to use up? Grab a can of chili, or cheese and broccoli, and some sour cream for baked potatoes. If you have chicken broth and some cream, cube up those potatoes for a delicious soup. Leftover Christmas ham? Toss that in with it!

Example 2:  Got frozen chicken breast? Grab some BBQ sauce and toss in your pressure or slow cooker for a super easy main dish. Or, add salsa, corn, and black beans and offer up with tortillas or chips for a simple, delicious Mexican dish!


3. LET THE KIDS HELP!  It may not be done perfectly, or very quickly, but it will keep them busy, allow them to learn valuable lessons from you, and become more self sufficient little humans in the long run.


As a parent, we're faced with near constant bombardment of requirements from our children.  From play time to clean up to snuggles, they want (and need!) our attention on the daily.  So it can feel easier to just "do it myself" because it's faster, more efficient, cleaner, etc......but I PROMISE that involving your little ones in dinnertime prep and clean up will not only allow for more bonding, but prepare them to really and truly be helpful as they grow and mature!

"Teach a man to fish," as they say, and they will become more productive, less whiny (can I get an "amen!"), and an excellent little helper soon than you'd think!


4. TWO WORDS:  MEAL PREP!  It's not really feasible to plan out every meal, but having a little forethought will lessen stress and make mealtime much less hectic!  You may even enjoy yourself!


We've all heard the buzzword "mealprep", and for good reason!  Not only can it help you make better choices when feeling snacky, prepping meat or veggies for dinner ahead of time will help eliminate decision fatigue and stress surrounding meals.

Even if you're not able to prepare parts of the meal ahead of time, actually thinking about WHAT to make will help tremendously!  Don't do like I've done and wait until 4:30 or 5pm to figure out what's for dinner!  On busy days, even if I have an idea around lunchtime what I want to make for dinner, I can pull some frozen meat out of the freezer, or prep something to use for later.  It's easy to do this while you're sitting down for lunch or your young kiddos are down for a nap.  Even better, have a game plan before bed the night before (gasp!)!


5. COOK EXTRA!  Doubling a batch of rice, veggies, meat...all sorts of things, will make meals the next day that much easier!


This definitely falls into the meal prep category (if you can swing planning out your meals for a whole week, you're gonna start loving life!), but by cooking more than you need, you can save half in the fridge and use it to make dinner go that much quicker the next day!

Example 1:  Making chicken and rice?  Cook a double batch of rice and use it to make stir fried rice tomorrow.

Example 2:  Cooking ground beef for a stroganoff?  Double the batch and use the browned meat in a shepherd's pie or tacos the next day.


6. BONUS TIP:  Make breakfast for dinner!


Who doesn't love a hot breakfast?  Sometimes we just don't want leftovers or PB&J for dinner.  On those crazy nights when you need something fast, go ahead and make some pancakes, french toast, or loaded oatmeal!  Not only can you prepare it quickly, but ingredients are pretty standard, so it's likely you have everything you need already in your fridge and pantry.

Breakfast foods are quick to prepare and cook, so you can easily go from "what's for dinner" to "mom is the best!" while your kids slurp up the last of the syrup from their plate!

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What are YOUR favorite ways to save time and lessen stress around meal hours?  Do you have kids or a crazy schedule?  Do you work outside the home and often come home hungry?  Share with us your ideas!