tips for making dinner prep easier

i've tried denying it for quite some time, but let's face the truth.

i'm not crazy about cooking dinner. 

when dinner time rolls around, i oftentimes feel exhausted & irritated. i am a morning person afterall! i used to hold myself to so many expectations for dinner. needless to say, i've trashed some of those expectations over the years & found my rhythm in the kitchen.

today i thought i'd share some tips i implement into my daily routine for making dinner prep much easier! 

1. MEAL PLAN: here's my thorough blog post on meal planning & oh boy, does it make the week easier! i buy exactly what i need from the grocery store once a week & plan what we will eat around our weekly schedule. 

2. TAKE NOTES: when meal planning, i take notes on what needs to be done the day before or morning before that evening's supper. i check the meal plan that evening & thaw my meats, cut vegetables or prepare the crockpot for tomorrow's dinner. 

3. CROCKPOT MEALS: crockpot meals are your friend. we have 1-2 crockpot meals per week & they make eating dinner at home possible during those busy evenings. 

4. CANNED GOODS: i often opt for the fresh option, but i stand strong in purchasing canned beans. i used to soak & crockpot our beans, but i've since started purchasing pre-cooked canned beans. they're affordable & so much easier.

5. LIST OF EASY MEALS: use an evening this week to jot down a list of easy meals. on those nights when you have very little time to cook, prepare an easy meal! one of my favorite is nacho night. i throw out tortilla chips, a handful of toppings & melt with shredded chips! so easy & delicious!

6. RICE COOKER: my family gifted me a rice cooker for christmas & i use this kitchen tool all of the time. it cooks our rice perfectly & has the option of delaying cooking time so that our rice is warm right when we're sitting down to eat. 

7. PREP RAW INGREDIENTS IN BULK: when harvesting salad from the garden, we always harvest enough for the week. it makes washing, chopping & preparing much easier than doing this task every single night. this can also be done for supermarket purchased goods. prep your fresh ingredients once a week for the entire week to make meal prep easier. 

8. SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY: sharing the responsibility of cooking & cleaning is key. when i cook, my husband always washes the dishes. it lifts the weight of cooking at home tremendously & i feel incredibly supported by his willingness to contribute to our home life.

what are some of your tips for making dinner prep easy peasy?


Anonymous said...

I've been following your post for a while now, but I don't think I've ever commented! Welp, so here it goes! Turning on the jams and putting on an apron help me SO much! I try to convince myself that, "WOW, I'm having' fun!" Also, I think What Would Mom Do? She almost always cooked our family dinner (and she never really enjoyed it!) even when she was tired. I truly believe this tradition is super important for a family. I think as the years go by, it will get easier and become even more of a second nature, as long as we ask Jesus to give us the strength :) Also, maybe he'll bless us with little Kitchen Helpers! - Carlie

Rachel said...

This is all such great advice. I always feel burned out when supper time rolls around, after a full day of work, it's hard to get with it! Having a plan is so much better! Can you please, please, please share more dinner recipes? Especially the easy crockpot meals? Thanks for your beautiful posts!

Mélodie Nicolle said...

I don't comment very often here dear Natalie but today i have to say that every single post is a delight to read and so useful!! I'm writing down and saving most of your post because you have some amazing tips and advices, so THANK YOU!
I'm so glad i discovered your blog dear!

Jenna said...

I'm curious if you have any tips for salad cleaning and storage from the garden for a whole week. My experience has been that if I wash and store it ends up frumpy and undesirable in just a couple days. Do you store unwashed and then wash as needed? For some reason I just can't figure this out.

Ali said...

This is a great set of tips. I am also a morning person and by time I get home from work I often don't feel like cooking. I share your love of crock-pot dinners, however I wonder if you've found a summertime alternative to crock-pot meals? After all, I'd hate to heat up the house all day with my slow cooker when it is 85 degrees out.

Jenny said...

My favorite tips-

- pre cook your meats. I keep cooked meats in the freezer for fast meals. My favorite is grilled, sliced chicken. When we grill, we often add some chicken breast to freeze ahead for busy days but I also love buying precooked grilled chicken breast from the Simmons company store in Decatur. I use the chicken on dinner salad, quesedillas, pizza or just as a busy finger food night(raw veggies with ranch, fresh fruit, cheese & a few pieces of cold cooked meat.

-eggs are my lazy night meal. We love boiled eggs with hot tea, a piece of cheese, a little fruit tossed in yogurt & maybe a slice of bacon. A very easy fast supper. Baked eggs are a favorite too: layer in a ramekin or single serve cast iron skillet(my favorite) 2 eggs, fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes, slice fresh mushroom, diced onion...whatever fresh veggies you have on hand with a little shredded cheese, crumbled bacon or sausage if you wish. Bake at 400' for 12 to 20 minutes. The time depends on how well done you like your eggs.

-no plan suppers: I always keep a few things on hand for nights I forget to thaw meat or things come up & I can't cook. Eggs & precooked meats can make a supper in 15 to minutes but so can canned or frozen soup, chili, or even leftovers. I always plan a leftover day once a week to eat up any little bits in the fridge before they go bad.

I so love your blog!

freefalling said...

After years of being not real great at dinner time, the best tip I learnt was having something left in the tank to prepare dinner.
I was also exhausted by the time dinner time came around, but it's such an important meal for us, I now make sure I don't burn myself out too early in the day.

Jessica said...

I just had my 3rd baby and have been relying heavily on freezer meals. I have tons of pre-mixed ingredients in my freezer. I just take one out to thaw in the morning and at dinnertime, all I have to do is cook some rice or pasta and stir in the contents from the freezer and either serve immediately or bake for about 15 minutes.

Beth said...

Would you please share where you got the menu page on the fridge? It's adorable! :)

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