Listen, none of us are our grandmas who had dinner on the table every night when our grandfathers got home from work. We work, we take care of the kids, and sometimes we just want to come home plop down on the sofa and order in. This post is not to shame you for doing that. That’s just self care.
However, we all want to save a little bit more of that hard earned money and eating out often can put a bit of a ding in our savings. So how do we get motivated to cook dinner every night and get it on the table?
My biggest problem is motivation. I always start out with the best of intentions but if a day just goes to poop, I know that dinner plans will be the first to suffer. A bad day just kills all of my motivation to finish it out strong.
It’s even worse in the summer, especially since we don’t have central air conditioning. The last thing I want to do is stand in front of my hot electric stove for 30 minutes when I’m already hot just sitting in my house.
At the end of a long day sometimes I just want to sit on the sofa with my kid, watch a movie with him, and ignore the rest of the world. But, dinner still has to be served. So here’s how I guarantee I get dinner on the table every night.
Firstly, I use a meal planning service called eMeals. It is super easy to use and absolutely worth the $5 a month.
It’s as simple as picking the meals you want at the beginning of the week, which I do at night in bed. The app automatically compiles a shopping list and you can choose to go shopping yourself or have your groceries delivered from your favorite grocery store.
Meal planning actually saves me time because half the battle of choosing what to eat is already finished. Using the app keeps me on track with shopping just enough to feed us so we don’t have loads of food waste.
However, I only actually use the meal planning program for about 3-5 meals a week. Several times a week I cook based on favorites we love and things we are craving. eMeals has helped me a lot in getting dinner on the table and stop ordering out 2-3 times a week.
Clean Up and Prep Well In Advance
One of the biggest obstacles to me having motivation to cook is having a clean kitchen. I need a clean kitchen in order to cook, but if my kitchen is messy from a day’s worth of dishes I’ll end up cleaning and not feeling like cooking.
Once I’ve finished cleaning the kitchen spotless I absolutely hate messing it up again. It just all feels like a waste of time. So I clean my kitchen either directly after dinner or first thing in the morning every day and it helps me keep my motivation to get dinner on the table that night.
I’ve also convinced my family to make sure their dishes get put into the dishwasher as they are dirtied instead of on a counter or in the sink. A clean kitchen before dinner means I’m more likely to cook a good meal that night.
As far as prep work goes, I prep my food when we bring it home from the grocery store. I chop, dice, and slice my veggies all at once, stick them in the freezer then they can just be popped right into your skillet to cook for dinner.
I tend to keep things like peppers, carrots, celery, and cabbage chopped or sliced in freezer bags in my freezer at all times actually. These are popular vegetables in our house for soups and skillet meals. It takes away that 10-20 minutes of prep work before cooking which can mean a world of difference in my motivation levels on weeknights and getting dinner on the table.
Side note: Always keep fresh garlic on hand. That is the one ingredient that is guaranteed to make sure every meal you cook is phenomenal.
Have Easy Meal Options Available At All Times
I’m a quick or easy meal kind of person. I prefer dump and cook meals or less than 30 minute meals any day of the week. Making sure you have easy meals in your plan is a great way to make sure you are putting food on the dinner table.
Breakfasts are some of my favorite easy meals because they don’t take a lot of time. I will often whip up veggie filled omelets or a batch of sheet pan pancakes for a meal at night. Breakfast for dinner is always a winner in this house.
For the summer though, salads are my favorite go to. They can be so versatile in how you serve them too. Add fruit, roast chicken, fresh herbs, and fresh veggies. Salads are a great quick and easy way to get dinner on the table.
Another easy meal option that’s an absolute favorite in my home are sandwiches. Get the good hoagie rolls, good meats, add some veggies and sauce and you’ve got a tasty and filling dinner that requires hardly any effort.
Most of the time all of these quick meals are going to taste better than if you had ordered out.
Cook For Leftovers
You remember earlier where I said I only use eMeals for 3-5 meals. The 2-4 meals I don’t use eMeals for are my planned leftover cooking days. I cook a large enough meal on these off days in order to make sure that I stock the fridge filled with leftovers.
These dishes are typically a pasta dish, slow cooker dinner, or loaded with potatoes and protein. These are my stick to the gut meals that I make because it always gives up more leftovers.
This works well for feeding my picky eater too. I make large portions of mac and cheese – his favorite – and have extra lunches and dinners for him for the week.
Leftovers are great for easy lunches and quick fend for yourself dinners. Did you think I was going to suggest you cook every night of the week to get dinner on the table. No way, double the portions on your meals and call it leftover night.
Here’s the biggest secret of how I’m able to get dinner on the table every night. If I have a particularly busy day, a day where I just don’t want to cook, or I just have a craving that needs to be satisfied, I just order take out.
I order food for delivery or take out as self care for myself and I don’t really care what that makes people think. I refuse to feel guilty for ordering and feeding my kid Wendy’s chicken nuggets from time to time.
“Processed food,” or “it’s unhealthy,” can meet “my sanity,” and “it’s freaking delicious.” My family is fed and that’s what’s important. I don’t judge people who eat all whole food healthy diets and spend their time cooking, I’m not one of you. I don’t have that kind of motivation.
Ordering delivery saves me time in cleaning, time in cooking, and gives my family a treat a couple times a month. Ordering delivery is the easiest dinner I can serve and it’s worth it to save my sanity and time.
Sometimes I daydream about being the type of wife and mom with the always perfect home and the beautiful dinners. Truth be told though, I just don’t have it in me. I’m the laid back, order in, the dishes can wait type of mom.
To be honest, I think a lot of moms can benefit from taking a break from being the “perfect” mom to allowing yourself time to relax and let the family fend for themselves for a night. You shouldn’t have to dedicate every single moment to serving your family, they should learn to take care of themselves too.
What are some of your favorite easy meals? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your favorite motherhood boards.
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