What does dinnertime look like at your house? In 2006 a study by Columbia University found that of the students between the ages of twelve and seventeen that they polled, fifty-eight percent of them at dinner around the table with the family an average of five nights a week. In a recent post we talked about some of the benefits of eating together as a family (Past Post: Health Advantages of Getting Organized); however, one of the main things that I hear from moms everywhere is the common struggle with what I like to call the five o'clock panic.
I define the five o'clock panic as that moment when you look up and realize that you have to have dinner on the table in a short amount of time and you have no idea what to fix! It is that feeling that often propels famlies through drive thru locations all over the country. Did you know that the average family in the United States eats an average of four meals away from home? Many of these visits are because of a lack of meal planning in many homes.
I have two quick secrets to conquering the five o'clock panic that I want to share with you today:
Secret #1: Make a menu.
Many of us do not like the idea of having to follow a strict schedule that we created a week or more ago. I mean what happens if you wake up on Tuesday and Tacos suddenly do not sound good and you have a craving for Thursday's homemade fried rice? The concept of making a weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly menu has gotten a bad rap so I set out to correct that. I have created downloadable menu planners that you can purchase on our website for just a few dollars. You save them to your computer and then each time you need to make a new menu, simply print it off! Our Menus are created more like a checklist... once you make a meal mark it off and then the next day you can pick that day's meal from what is remaining. You do not have to assign certain foods to certain days. To take a look at these downloadable products click here.
Secret #2: Use a Slow Cooker.
My slow cooker is by far and away my very best friend! I have invested time and money in creating a cookbook library that gives me hundreds of yummy meals that I can make in my little time saving device. I love using my slow cooker because I can throw the ingredients in the pot in the morning before I run the kids to school and it is ready for us when we return home from a busy day of school, work, and actvities. I am able to serve my family healthier meals and I am able to enjoy dinner without stress or worry of a big mess to clean up! If you are not using a slow cooker at least once a week... I challenge you do dig it out, wash it off, and but it to work saving you time and energy in the kitchen!
The other benefit that I have found in using my slow cooker is that I have personally cut almost $100 a month out of our food budget! This is because I have been able to reduce the pricey trips through drive thrus on nights when our family was busy or rushed- since dinner was already waiting at home.
In fact... I am such a strong believer in how the slowcooker can save you time in the kitchen... I am giving away a copy of my favorite slow cooker recipe book:
To enter all you have to do is comment below with the name of your favorite thing to cook in your slow cooker and I will randomly draw one winner a week from today on Tuesday, March 2nd at 10:00 AM CST!
Good luck and I hope to hear that many of you are conquering the Five O'clock panic with these two easy tips this week!