Get your weeknight game on with nifty strategies and tips before the kids even think to ask what's for dinner. Have it delivered to your door!
Now that the school year’s swinging, getting dinner made and on the table’s a real feat! You need options. Here are strategies to simplify your cooking so you can easily answer the age-old whine for dinner:
1 Get that Crock Pot Working!
Recipes like soups, chilis, stews and slow-cooked cuts of pork, beef and chicken make wonderful fast and easy meals. Lots of other meals can be made in your crock pot, too.
Search for easy recipes for baked pasta casseroles that you can make ahead of time, or a quick pasta recipe with a simple sauce. Always keep Parmesan cheese on hand — makes everybody happy to sprinkle it on top!
3 Salad and Baked Potato Bar
A DIY dinner is a great idea for busy kids coming and going. Bake a few potatoes in the oven (or microwave) and set out a variety of toppings. Toss a great big salad and set out everybody’s favorite dressings.
4 Double-Batch Cooking
The next time you prepare a favorite casserole, soup, or sauce, make a double batch and keep it in the fridge to reheat on a night when you have zero time.
5 Theme Night
Kids love sandwich night (and Taco Tuesday) or other themes. Everyone can get in on the making of it. Quick and easy dinners can be enjoyed “picnic style” on the go — even on a practice field if it’s yet again one of those nights.
6 Take Out/Delivery
Lots of restaurant delivery services are available in our area from Grubhub to Cincybites. Sure you pay a delivery fee, but feeding a family already helps you meet the minimum order. Sometimes a mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do!
7 Leftover Night
Concoct a meal using ingredients you already have on hand. Make breakfast for dinner or work together to cobble together something fast from the fridge or freezer in the microwave.
— Susan Day
Dinner is Saved!
Get the scoop on Dream Dinners’ new offerings, time-and-cost-saving hacks from local moms, and top food bloggers that will help make family meal planning a breeze.
Dream Dinners is a Dream Come True for Busy Parent
For those who like to plan ahead — without having to do a lot of actual planning — Dream Dinners is a total win (dreamdinners.com). The meal-assembly company does all the shopping, chopping and prep work — you just choose from a seasonal, rotating online menu and schedule a time to go to the store and assemble the ingredients to bring home. Toss the meals in your freezer and bring them out when needed for a family dinner that would normally take for.ev.er to make! Local stores can be found in Blue Ash (9715 Kenwood Road), Cincinnati (7500 Beechmont Ave.), and the West Side (6507 Harrison Ave.).
Recently, Dream Dinners came up with a new idea called ShareCrate — consider it a care package for new moms, or just really, really busy ones who could use a little help. The crate includes three easy-to-prepare meals with step-by-step cooking instructions and can feed anywhere from two to three or five to six people. Better yet, for every ShareCrate sold, a meal will be donated to a child in need through the non-profit Living the Dream. Learn more about ShareCrate at lovingwithfood.com.
The Mason jar was once your grandma’s go-to kitchen item when it came to canning fruits and veggies. Now, parents are finding that not only can you create a fabulous craft out of them, you can also craft a recipe IN them! All you have to do is gather items, put them in the jar as the recipe calls for and seal. No more question about what you have in the pantry to cook for dinner when it’s all in one place!
You’ll find these helpful:
- 493 Meals in a Jar (by rockitlikeamom.com)
- How to Make the Perfect Mason Jar Salad (by purewow.com)
- 26 Healthy and Portable Mason Jar Meals (by greatist.com)
Freeze Now, Cook Later
If you can take a couple of hours out of your weekend to do this, you’ll have a week’s worth of dinners ready to go! All you have to do is purchase the ingredients, bag them as the recipe calls and freeze. The night before, pull one out and place in the fridge to thaw. Day of, plop it in the slow cooker and continue about your day with the kids!
You’ll find these helpful:
- 7 Kid-Friendly Freezer Meals in 85 Minutes (by newleafwellness.biz)
- A Week of Easy Freezer Meals in Under an Hour (by passionforsavings.com)
- Freezer Cook (by jamimclaren.blogspot.com)
WEEKLY MEAL PLANNER
Get the Best Deals in Town on Kids’ Meals — Free or Nearly Free.
Dickey’s Barbeque Pit
dickeys.com | All Day
lacazuelafairfield.com | All Day
Buffalo Wings and Rings
buffalowingsandrings.com | All Day
Quaker Steak and Lube
thelube.com | All Day (Discounted to $1.99)
Gold Star Chili
goldstarchili.com | 4 – 9 p.m.
hofbrauhausnewport.com | All Day (Second Tuesday, every month)
ikea.com | All Day
lonestarsteakhouse.com | All Day
Moe’s Southwestern Grill
moes.com | After 5 p.m.
roosterswings.com | All Day (Discounted to $.99)
rubytuesday.com | After 5 p.m.
Tom & Chee
tomandchee.com | 4 – 9 p.m.
Uno Pizzeria & Grill
unos.com | After 4 p.m.
waltsbarbeque.com | All DaY
applebees.com | All Day (Discounted to $.99)
bd’s Mongolian Grill
gomongo.com | 6 – 9 p.m. (Discounted to $1.99)
Whole Foods Market
wholefoodsmarket.com | 4 – 8 p.m.
qdoba.com | After 4 p.m.
frickers.com | All Day
goldencorral.com | All Day (Kids 3 and younger)
ponderosasteakhouses.com | All Day (Kids 3 and younger)
toots.com | All Day (Hot Dog Basket)
buffalojoesfairfield.com | Mon/Wed, All Day
jgumbos.com | Mon/Wed, After 5 p.m.
larosas.com | Varies by Location
skylinechili.com | Varies by Location
Steak and Shake
steaknshake.com | Sat/Sun, All Day