Probably the single biggest reason I won't cook dinner is when I get started on prep work too late in the day and I'm just too tired. I seem to have to make room for that "sweet spot" where I'm excited about what's for dinner, if the kids are home from school they aren't too demanding yet, and I've got a clear vision of what I want to make happen.
The meal prep on the left shows you what time I typically start cooking at. We eat early in the day- usually between 5 and 5:30- because our boys are early risers (5:30am- no kidding!) so they're also early to bed (until soccer season starts up, and then we have a very grumpy house until summer holidays begin).
This photo also shows you at what stage I typically begin cooking. Everything is washed, sliced, and prepped as required, from rinsing the beans to mixing up the spice blend. That way, the whole process flows smoothly from one step to the next, and I'm not scrabbling to find something I forgot.
Something else I do to make it easier on myself is to combine the ingredients together that get cooked together. For example, in this photo, I have the onions and garlic together, because those get started cooking before adding anything else.
Of course, there are times when I'm not going to have the time to merrily chop my vegetables and rinse my beans at leisure. I mentioned soccer season above, and that's definitely a more complicated time for dinners at home. Luckily, my family likes simple foods, such as soup, sandwiches, wraps, and leftovers, so planning ahead now to have some quick meal starters in the freezer is an essential part of my "soccer mom" prep work.
I find meal planning to be one of the simplest ways to always know what you have to eat, and when you can eat it. Becoming a meal planner for my family has saved us a significant amount of time and money. The amount of food we used to waste- buying with good intentions, but not knowing when (or sometimes how!) to use it- makes me cringe. I'm happy I'm now able to contribute to the well-being of our family. Planning ahead means your leftovers get put to use, rather than thrown away, so you are always saving money on your food budget.
The prep-work photo, as well as this image above, is of a basic baked bean curry pot. This was one of my #testkitchen recipes and both my family and my local taster enjoyed the results.
If you find yourself staring into your fridge or cupboard and doing a drive-through run instead of cooking, consider allowing me to plan your meals for you. If you're already a meal planner, I salute you, kindred spirit!
There are always a day or two in the month where I don't cook dinner. Sometimes we have meals out as part of an extended family gathering, and we usually plan one purchased meal somewhere else (either with or without the kids!). If we don't go out, we'll usually pick Subway rather than the other fast food places in town. Being a meal planner doesn't mean you never eat out again, it just means that you enjoy your home-cooked meals as much, or more, than the ones you eat elsewhere.
Enjoy your week, friends.