Confessions of a Mommy Blogger: 5 Dinner Shortcuts Every Parent Needs
There are four small kids in my house right now, and I’m going to make dinner for all of them. Like I do (nearly) every night. But in order to make all these fresh meals, the ones that the kids like, that my husband enjoys and that I feel good about serving, there are going to be some shortcuts made. Like there are (nearly) every night. Here are a few of my secrets for getting it all done.
1. Use That Netflix Subscription to Your Full Advantage: There is no shame in putting on a video for the kids while you cook dinner. That gives you 22 minutes to get something accomplished while the kids bliss out. Tip: Just be clear ahead of time about how MANY videos or how LONG they’ll be watching. My kids go crazy if they think I’m pulling the plug prematurely. The last thing you want to start dinner with is mutiny.
2. Repurpose Leftovers with Confidence: On the incredulity scale, “This again?” is about a 9.5 at the dinner table. There’s also this: As a food blogger I’m constantly testing new recipes. Sometimes things are a hit, and sometimes they’re not. Either way, I love having a second life planned out for dinners like London broil (which later becomes a pot of beef stew), roasted chicken (which shows up again in a casserole) or meatballs that start out on pasta and end up on sub sandwiches. Sometimes the second time is a charm.
3. Garlic Powder Is Good: When I’m in a time crunch or when I'm so tired I suspect I'm getting sick (and later realize it’s just the cumulative effect of one zillion snow days), I use a teaspoon of garlic powder any time a recipe suggests that I drag out a cutting board and knife just for a clove of the fresh stuff. (I also keep frozen cubes of ready-to-go garlic in my freezer.)
4. Rotate Favorite Sides: I always have a few veggies on hand — oven-roasted broccoli or cauliflower, pan-fried carrots with rosemary and skillet spinach with garlic — that I cook once a week and know so well I never need go to the trouble of consulting a recipe or wondering whether I have the ingredients I need. Even better, the kids love every one of them.
5. There's Always Pizza: By the time Friday rolls around, I’m typically ready to ditch the kitchen, and rather than grump out at the thought of making ANOTHER meal, I make a call to the good people at the pizza place. (Sandwiches, eggs or Breakfast for Dinner are also totally reasonable solutions at these times.) If I’m cooking fresh meals most of the time, my family will reap those benefits in both nutrition and family time. If I’m driving myself crazy with it, well, you know how that goes.
Charity Curley Mathews lives with her husband and four small kids outside of Chapel Hill, N.C., and blogs at Foodlets.com: Mini Foodies in the Making…Maybe.