In the early days of being a mom of 8 kids, things we pretty crazy. Just caring for the basic needs of our kids was a full time job. Cooking for a young family of 10 was a a big source of stress at first until I found some dinner time hacks that saved me time and stress.
My Top 5 Dinner Time Hacks to save you time:
- Plan your meals! The most important thing I did was meal planning. There was just nothing that stressed me out a the end of a long day when I was exhausted like having to decide what to cook for dinner. Having a menu planned out ahead of time saved made my life so much easier. Now that my kids are older, I love to try different meals so I use emeals which makes it much easier. But when my kids were little and time was a premium, I had my own system that saved me time and made cooking dinner easy and stress free. I had a list of 25 meals that my family loved and were fast and easy to make. At the beginning of each week, I picked 7 meals and made sure I had all the ingredients.
- Cook several days of meat ahead of time. On Saturday, I would cook a large amount of meat to use all week. For example, I would cook up a bunch of hamburger and then put the cooked hamburger into ziplock bags to use throughout the week. I had several meals my family loved that used hamburger that were easy to make like tacos, spaghetti, burritos, nachos, taco pie, homemade pizzas and casseroles. Making the meat ahead of time was a big saver for me when it was time to make dinner.
- Pre-shred your cheese. Shredding cheese was a time consuming part of making dinner that might make me resort to eating cereal for dinner at the end of a long day. Having pre-shredded cheese to use with the meat made so many meals seem easy and fast to make. I can’t tell you how comforting it was to know that I could make any one of my kids’ favorite meals in 5 minutes or less because the main ingredients were already prepared.
- Cut up you veggies ahead of time. Are you seeing a theme? My hubby was home on Saturdays so I had back up and could use that day to make the rest of my week easier. Yay for helpful hubbies! I cut up the veggies I needed for that week’s meals on Saturday so that it was easy to include them throughout the week. I cut up lettuce and tomatoes to make simple sandwiches more exciting. I also cut up carrots, celery, broccoli, cucumbers, and more veggies for my kids to snack on. My kids quickly learned to love fresh vegetables and having them available all the time encouraged them to make healthy snack choices.
- Make one big salad to last a few days. This was more for me but what a life saver! I love salads and I really like to eat them for lunch. Having a chicken salad, green salad, etc gave me a healthy lunch to eat whenever I had a minute. It also made it easier for me to invite my friends for lunch! My friends were such a life line for me and feeling like I could at least somewhat resemble a good hostess made me feel more comfortable inviting them over. Being able to easily and quickly make good sandwiches and a nice salad was a big deal to me.
Cooking for a young family of 10 was so much easier with these 5 dinner time hacks, and I still use them whenever we are going camping, going on vacation (post on how we vacation with 8 kids coming), and if I am going to be gone or not available. Having the ingredients prepared ahead of time was a big help when I was teaching my kids to cook and it really empowered them to be able to cook on their own.