When you’re in your creative flow, the last thing you want to think about is getting dinner on the table. But before you know it, 5 pm rolls around and stomachs are growling. A little meal planning and preparation before you start your creative time can go a long way.
Here to give her expert tips on how to make mealtime a breeze, is Registered Dietitian and nutritionist, Lori D’Amato, RD. D’Amato is a seasoned pro in helping clients learn tricks to make dinnertime fast and easy.
Faster, easier dinners mean more time for you to sew, and isn’t that really what it’s all about? Keep reading for her insight.
Make a Meal Plan
Planning out your meals ahead of time is crucial. D’Amato knows, “The last thing you want to be doing is trying to figure out what to make at 5 pm. Planning out your nightly meals the week before will allow time to go food shopping so that come mealtime, all of the ingredients needed are on hand.” Not sure where to start? This Weekly Meal Planning Worksheet should help get you started and keep you organized!
Head to the Grocery Store
After your meals for the week ahead are planned out, make a list of all of the ingredients you will need to prepare those meals. That way you won’t have to run out to the grocery store midweek just to get dinner on the table.
Or, if time is really tight, food shop online.
This tip has also been a life-saver for D’Amato. Life happens. Sometimes we are too busy even to get to the grocery store. Depending on where you live, online food delivery can save over 1.5 hours in your week. With many online options, you can go to past purchases and add items that you typically buy, which is a huge time saver. It also can make it easier to stick to my weekly food budget better when shopping online, because there is less of a chance for impulse buys.
Meal Prep on the Weekends
While the weekend might be your favorite time for sewing and creating, preparing Monday’s meal on Sunday can set your week up for ultimate productivity. In addition to prepping Monday night’s meal on the weekend, D’Amato recommends making some side dishes that will last for Tuesday and Wednesday nights. “Prepare additional sides, like rice and potatoes, for Tuesday and Wednesday’s meals. They take a while to cook and keep well, so that will save time midweek,” she suggests.
Invest in a Slow Cooker
“BEST INVESTMENT EVER!”, D’Amato says, admitting that she uses hers at least 2-3 times per week. “I prepare my meal in the morning (before things get crazy). I then set it and forget it!” By 5 pm dinner is done and ready to go! One recipe D’Amato loves is this Slow Cooker Chili. It’s meatless, so not only is it easy but inexpensive, too! Win-win!
Plan Easier Meals for Your Busiest Days
“I tend to get lazier as the week goes on, so on Thursdays and Fridays, I plan to make easier meals, such as stir-fry or casseroles.”, D’Amato admits. She suggests taking an honest assessment of your week and giving yourself “a break” on those nights when you may be busier. If Tuesdays are the days where you need to be in three places at the same time, it might not be the best night to try to make a complicated meal. One-pot meals are an easy solution and save time on cleanup, too! Another recipe she loves is this Honey-Garlic Chicken with Veggies, all made in the slow cooker.
With just a little bit of planning, cooking dinner doesn’t have to be such a chore after all!