The hour before I put dinner on the table is so HARD for me. Can anybody relate?! About 5pm I hit a wall and don’t want to do anything, think about anything or be at all productive. It wouldn’t matter so much, but unfortunately the people in my home want supper! Therefore, I have to get a meal together whether I like it or not. As much as I still don’t love meal prep time, I have come up with some strategies that make it much more manageable and even a little bit fun!
1. Meal Plan
This is probably the most important item on this list. If I had to go into this dreaded hour with no plan dinner would be scrambled eggs or sandwiches every night. Meal planning and then shopping for the week sets me up for meal time success. With meal planning I know exactly what I am going to cook for every dinner and it really helps the meal time prep go much more smoothly.
2. Prep Ahead
If you have time after you grocery shop, prep as much of the food for the week as possible. Chop vegetables, cook meats, and mix up sauces. All of those things will save you time and effort during dinner prep. I’m not ashamed to say I have even spent extra money to buy the pre-cut vegetables — anything to make dinner prep a little easier and quicker. Another way to prep ahead is freezer meals. Pinterest has tons of meals that you can put together easily and then have them in the freezer and ready to pull out whenever you need them. You can also double recipes and then freeze the second part OR just eat the same meal for dinner the next night. Some people have very strong opinions about leftovers, but if your family will eat them, plan a leftover meal at some point in the week!
3. Utilize the Crock-Pot or the Instapot
I cannot tell you how happy I am when dinner prep time rolls around and my meal is already cooking away in the crock-pot! I throw everything in at a time that’s convenient for me, and then at dinnertime, it’s ready. Use these amazing tools to cook your dinner; they will make your meal prep SO much easier.
4. Get Help
Do you have anyone in the home that is able to help you with dinner? Use them! My husband loves to grill, so year round, he grills at least one meal a week. He enjoys it and I am thankful for the help. If you have older kids, let them cook. Depending on age, they could even plan the menus, make the grocery list and shop for that meal.
5. Set the Mood
Do something enjoyable while you make dinner, like listening to a podcast or audio book. Jam to some music. Sip some wine. Turn on a fun rerun to listen too. Find something that will make your dinner prep time a little more enjoyable.
There are many resources that can make dinner time prep easier, some even free like Pinterest. I use Pinterest all the time to come up with recipes and a plan. Prep Dish is a subscription service that sends you a meal plan, grocery list, recipe and plans for prepping your ingredients ahead of time. Services like Hello Fresh and Home Chef actually send you the recipe and ingredients to your front door. Locally, Baker’s Prep Kitchen can help make meal time much simpler by cooking awesome meals for you!