Family dinner may seem like an all-to-ideal goal for many working families. If you want to smooth the way to the dinner table, here are some tips to get you well on your way to a family dinner routine.
Tips to help get a quick meal on the table:
Frozen bread loaves or rolls.
- They have whole wheat and white and if you keep some in your freezer, you can pull some out in the morning, put them in a greased pan in your fridge, then when you get home from school, pull them out of the fridge, and when they look nicely raised, preheat your oven to 375 and 30 minutes later or so, you have fresh bread.
- If a loaf is too much for the two of you to eat, then try tossing 4 or 5 rolls into a loaf pan and letting it raise. I might be a bit of a bumpy looking loaf, but will be just as tasty.
- You could also just put them in a pie tin and let them raise as separate rolls.
- You could put some rolls in the fridge in the morning, then after school, roll them out flat, and make individual pizzas. This really is super easy – a bottle of pizza sauce lasts quite a while in the fridge, you can keep grated cheese and pepperoni in the freezer, and pull some out, sprinkle on your mini pizza dough and bake at 425 for 15 – 20 minutes. You can even open a can of sliced olives, and keep the rest in the freezer, as well as pineapple tidbits and Canadian bacon.
Pre-made pizza crust
- For the times when you don’t want to roll out and deal with pizza dough, keep a pre-made pizza crust in the freezer. Pizza is a great way to use leftovers: leftover taco fixings become Mexican pizza, leftover barbeque chicken = BBQ chicken pizza, leftover bacon = BLT pizza.
Crock-pot/slow cooker (with leftovers planned into the menu)
- Pot roast with carrots, onions and potatoes is a great meal, but don’t chuck the leftovers. Before you put that clean crockpot away, add some tomato juice, a bay leaf, a rinsed can of white or navy beans, maybe some pearl barley and a little beef broth. Put that on low while you’re at work and come home to a hearty soup.
- Toss some chicken breasts or tenders into the crockpot with your favorite barbeque sauce. When you get home, add some fruit and a salad and you’ve got a great meal. When cleaning up dinner, shred that chicken and put in the fridge for the day after tomorrow (you may not want 2 BBQ meals back to back). Pull a pre-made pizza crust out of the freezer before work. When you get home, top with BBQ sauce, shredded chicken, some frozen corn and Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes. Serve with a salad and you’ve got a delicious meal with very effort.
- I’m not one to go for every kitchen gadget known to man (mostly because I don’t have the space). But the salad spinner can be a very healthful gadget. Whether you are buying a bag of salad, or harvesting your own from your garden, the salad spinner not only helps clean and dry the salad, but it is a great storage solution that will allow you to eat salad all week. Salad stays fresh for days and you can just pull some out to add to any meal. For example: Monday you might want taco salad. Keep the leftover greens in the salad spinner and the next day you can add a side salad to your crockpot chicken menu. Maybe the following day you can have a salad-topped pizza (another use of the pre-made pizza crust). And to use up the last of your salad, it might go into BLT wraps the following night.