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10 Tips for getting dinner on the table every night

It’s not easy shuffling kids from school to practice to daycare to games to clubs to home, all while trying to get yourself where you need to be and holding down the home front. Dinner is tough, no matter if you’re a stay-at-home mom or a corporate executive. We all worry about our kids and our performance as mothers and if we’re giving them everything they need and in the right amounts.

Mom making pizza

While gathering everyone at the table on a regular basis is said to be good for the family’s well-being, sometimes putting anything on the table seems next to impossible. Between homework, projects and getting the kids to bed in time so we maybe we can start on time tomorrow, finding the time and the will to get dinner on the table can be quite a feat.

Here are some surefire tips for getting dinner on the table every night — whether it’s perfect or not. Sometimes something is better than nothing.

Freeze it

Take the weekend to make a couple of dishes that you can freeze and pull out as you need them.

Put a new twist on an old thing

Stay-at-home mom and volunteer extraordinaire, Sandy Allen, liked the idea of homemade pizza, but the dough was a problem. “I started using Naan,” Allen said, “I didn’t have to bake it and the kids cover it in their favorite toppings, just like a pizza.”

Keep it simple

Macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and chicken nuggets may not seem to be the healthiest choices, but there are reasons so many moms choose them. Kids eat them and they’re usually pretty happy about it.

Get help

If your kids are old enough (and even age 2 or 3 is old enough to put out napkins or paper plates), get your children involved. Not only does it make it easier on you, your children will enjoy being helpful.

Crockpot it

Mom and marketing consultant, Dawn Janssen, recommends the crockpot and Allen adds an easy recipe: frozen chicken and a can of green chile enchilada sauce. It doesn’t get easier than dumping those two items into a pot and turning it on. “When you get home, it’s done and you can use the chicken for any number of dishes,” said Allen.

Plan in advance

Plan out your meals in advance — even if it’s on three meals every week. Knowing what you’re having on say Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, makes the rest of the week seem not so daunting and the family gets at least three dinners each week.

Make it fun

Kids love having breakfast for dinner. You can even sneak in fruits or veggies — such as blueberry pancakes, fruit smoothies or scrambled eggs with yellow peppers and onions and sprinkled with cheese.

Create a weekly tradition

Create a tradition, such as pizza night every Sunday and make a pizza together. Or maybe Thursday is Mexican food night and you make easy dishes like oven-baked quesadillas or nachos, chock full of healthy items like tomatoes, green peppers and chicken. The kids can help by sprinkling chopped up ingredients or rolling out the dough.

Take it out

We may cringe at the idea of picking up fast food, but we all do it. Sometimes it feels like a daily occurrence and other times we try to hold out until we simply have no other choice, because some dinner is better than no dinner. Face it. Fast food is easy and sometimes easy is all we can do. Instead of beating yourself up over it, make it a weekly or monthly occurrence and know that since Tuesday is chicken nugget night, you don’t have to worry about dinner that day. It can be healthier fast food, too, like sandwiches, fruit and bagels or even sushi.

Create a system

Finding your rhythm, whether it’s pizza on Mondays and crockpots on Tuesdays or paper plates and plastic forks to make clean up easy, makes for smooth going when the rest of the world falls apart. If you know what to expect for dinner (write it down and put it on the fridge or add it to your calendar), then it becomes one less thing to worry about and another item you can check of your ever-growing list.

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