Since becoming a mom, my priorities have changed. Family and kids come first, food second. In the summer I much rather spend time outdoors and play or watch them play. Dinner still needs to be at the table at a reasonalble time though. So, I how do I do it?
It all starts with having a weekly meal plan.
Choosing recipes with no more than 20-30 minutes of prep time (That is the time you have to be active to prepare the recipe, unlike the cooking time which is usually inactive and allows you to do other things while the food cooks.)
Here is an example for a summer weekly meal plan. These meals are quick and easy to prepare. If you keep it simple, like in the example below, you will find that you have more time to do fun stuff like go to the park with the kids, because you have it all figured out and dinner is almost ready and all you need to do is 1-2 quick side dishes!
I find that in the summer, the main advantage for grilling is that you can have fun outside in the backyard, deck, or porch and play with your kids, water the plants, or just sit and have a drink, while the food cooks.
Mashed sweet potatoes
Buffet = take all the leftovers out and “clean” your fridge before Sunday’s grocery shopping* OR Pizza party = put it all on flatbread and make “pizza”, OR Light dinner of fried eggs, cheeses, deli meat, veggies, tuna salad, etc
* Do the grocery shopping on Sunday and you are good for the week.
* Do ahead the prep or cooking is best to do in the evening after the kids are in bed. I know it might be the last thing you feel like doing at the end of the day when you can finally rest, but he next day you will be happy you did it. You will feel so wonderful when you know you don’t have the pressure of cooking dinner fast and can do something “funner” instead.
* If you have leftovers, that is the best. Pack everything and have a picnic dinner in the park, or the backyard.
Make your life and easy, keep cooking simple, and you’ll see that having a home-made dinner everyday can be easy. It just takes some practice (or a cooking class, see World Flavors).