By Eileen M Kenison

Meal Time Isn’t What It Once Was –

We are busier now than ever before.  If you’re like me, most of your evenings are spent driving one kid here and another kid there.  Evenings can be hectic!  Are you forced to eat on the go, often not sitting down together as a family?  It is my belief that because of this hectic routine our families are missing out on valuable time together.   There is something to be said about a quality home cooked meal while sharing the events of your day.  I promise, if you follow my simple 3 step process you can save the dinner table and enjoy quality family time.

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Step #1 Check Your Inventory & Create a Menu –

Pick one day a week that is your planning day.

This is a great site to get free templates for menu planning.

Things to consider when planning – or making your menu for the week

  • What items do you have?
  • What days are you the busiest?
  • Can you plan to cook once and eat for several days? -I often will cook a main protein in the beginning of the week. For example I will roast extra chicken on Monday and use it in the next two days of my cooking.

There are times I know I just don’t have the time to plan ahead that is when I rely on Once a Month Meals.

Step #2  KeepingThings Stocked Up –

004If you have a real well stocked pantry you will save a ton of time & you won’t need to run to the market as often.  A huge time saver is purchasing in bulk.  I shop for my bulk items with Wholeshare.

Every kitchen cook will have a different list of what they need in their stocked kitchen.  Here is a list of items I try to always have on hand.

  • Oils – Olive, Grape Seed, Coconut, Avocado, Sesame
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Spices – Garlic, Parsley, Oregano, Chives, Turmeric, Coriander, Cumin,
  • Kosher Salt, Black Pepper, Crushed Red Pepper
  • White & Red Wine
  • Stock –Homemade or store bought. Chicken, Beef, Vegetable
  • Apple Cider Vinegar, Rice Wine Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar
  • Citrus – Fresh or frozen juices
  • Flours – Coconut, Almond, Wheat, Spelt
  • Bread Crumbs – Homemade or store bought
  • Beans, Legumes, Lentils – Dried or canned
  • Grains, Quinoa, Faro, Millet
  • Rice – Jasmine, Brown, Wild
  • Pasta – Fresh or dried, Quinoa Pasta, Rice Pasta
  • Seeds, Nuts, Dried Fruits
  • Canned or frozen vegetables

If I have these few staples on hand I will only need to purchase a protein, fresh vegetables and herbs to make a delicious meal in no time.

Step #3 Prep –

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Pick one day a week that you do your meal prep work.   This is often best to do the day you purchase your fresh herbs and vegetables.

  • Chop, slice & dice the vegetables you will be using for the week ahead. Most items can be stored nicely in either mason jars or Ziploc bags with a paper towel
  • Make all your dressings & marinades – Store them in mason jars
  • Prepare your meats for the week. Trim, Season, Chop – Do not add any salt, or citrus as it will begin to cook
  • Don’t store your meats with your vegetables – Be sure to store them separate
  • Par boil vegetables – For example potatoes or carrots that have a long cook time

All it takes is simple planning ahead and you too can enjoy dinner again!

**A 2012 study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition found that people who cooked at home at least five times a week were 47% more likely to live 10 years longer than the people who relied more on processed foods.”**

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