I cook dinner most nights for my husband and myself. Particularly during the week. Some people seem to be blown away by that. They wonder how I have time. Like most things, I think if you really want to do something, you can make time. But I also plan it into my day. It’s important to me.
Why? I think it’s healthier. It saves money. And it gives me some satisfaction knowing I made our meal.
With that said, there are a few things you can do to help make cooking dinners a little more do-able.
1. Shop for your groceries at the beginning of the week and do it all at once.
This helps me plan out the meals for the week. I’m a big planner. I try to build in an especially easy meal for one night. A more delicious meal that could be more time consuming for another – something we maybe don’t have all the time. A meal that will most likely have leftovers for my leftover night (and weekend). And maybe one other meal. I try not to plan too many meals with leftovers in one week because my husband is not a huge leftover guy and I’m afraid they won’t get eaten. Which brings me to number 2.
2. Freeze stuff!
Get a package of meat at the store with more meat than you need? No need to make it all at once. Freeze it and use it for another meal. You can even freeze prepared leftovers and use them later.
My dad is also not a leftover fan (it must be a guy thing) but my mom has this freezing thing down to an art. She once bragged to me about her awesome use of leftovers.
She made pork and sauerkraut one night and of course it didn’t all get eaten. She froze the leftovers. Then a week or so later, she took out the pork, slathered it in BBQ sauce, put it on a bun and whallah! Pulled pork BBQ sandwich. My dad loved it and never knew the difference. Brilliant! My mom rocks!
3. Use recipes that aren’t too complicated – either in ingredients or in method.
If a recipe has a bunch of ingredients that I don’t usually have or the directions are complicated or too time consuming, I don’t even bother. Unless it’s my one night a week that I might make a slightly more extensive meal. Then it has to be really good. I don’t have the money or the time to go searching for crazy ingredients, nor do I want to. I also like to keep dishes to a minimum. If I have to use multiple pots and pans for one meal, it could be a turnoff.
4. Don’t be ashamed to have a frozen pizza or lasagna (or something else) in the freezer to pull out those nights that you just don’t want to cook or something comes up and you’re busy.
5. Crock pots!
I am not an expert at crock pots. I love them. I use them. However for me to be able to use them, I need something that can sit for at least 7 hours and not dry out. I work during the day, people. I have to turn that puppy on when I leave in the morning and it needs to still be moist when I get home. I work an 8 hour day. And add traffic to that. I live in Atlanta. ‘Nuff said.
So that’s how I roll. Grocery shop once. Cook at night. Keep it simple. Don’t beat myself up if I don’t want to cook sometimes. I hope this helps for those of you that find cooking dinner at night overwhelming.
For those of you that already have it mastered – do you have any of your own tips to share? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear!