As a parent of two active kids, I know the challenge of trying to find time to cook a healthy meal, let alone sit down as family for dinner. As much as I try to not overextend my kids (or myself), the reality of today’s world is a constant hustle.

Factoring time to shop and prepare for a home cooked meal can add to the stress of an already jam-packed day.

If you are tired of constantly ordering out, eating quick-fix processed meals, or staring at the fridge aimlessly wondering what to make for dinner then it’s time to make some changes to your routine.

1.  Meal plan on Sunday.  I try to use Sunday as the day to plan for my week ahead. I look at what activities we have scheduled for the upcoming week, and plan accordingly.    If we have back-to-back activities on a certain night, I am going to plan something simple, that we can eat on the fly.  Meal planning also saves time and money  since you are only buying items you need for your upcoming week.

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(above is a sample of my meal planning calendar)

2.  Keep a stocked freezer. Meal planning is always easier if you have options. Four years ago I signed up for a meat delivery service called Five Star Foods. Every 3 months I have a variety of meats, chicken and fish delivered to my freezer. Each piece is individually vacuum-sealed making defrosting a snap. Having options on hand makes it easier to resist the urge to order out.

3.  Choose Family Faves. I really do try my best to come up with recipes that appeal to everyone, but let’s be honest; you’re rarely going to please everyone when it comes to mealtime. We have a rule in our house: If you don’t like what I made for dinner there is always chicken nuggets or cereal. Remember, you are not running a restaurant!

4.  Prep early in the day. Most weeknight meals take more time to prep than to actually cook, so if you can prep your meal earlier in the day you’ll save valuable time later on. For example, marinate your steak, dice your vegetables, and even set the table. If you can carve out 15-20 minutes in the morning to prepare, it’s one less thing you need to do after a long day.

5.  Enlist your family to pitch in.  Long gone are the days of June Cleaver. Allow your kids to help prep, set the table or clean up. Having children participate in the process is a great way to get them involved and even excited about dinner.

boy setting the table(Allow your kids to pitch in with set up and clean up)

Life may not slow down for a while, but carving out time to sit and eat a home cooked meal is worth putting on your “to-do” list.

Happy Organizing!