Do those two words make anyone else’s eye start to twitch a little? I’ve never enjoyed cooking. Since I didn’t really learn how until it became necessary to feed my family, I’ve had my share of burnt cookies, mushy rice, clogged sinks, broken dishes and flavorless meals. I’ve tripped over crawling babies and bonked more than one kid with the microwave door. I’ve cried, screamed and I’ve opted for take out half way through on more than one occasion. But in my years of learning to cook with children literally underfoot, I’ve learned a few things to make it a little bit easier. I’ve even started to enjoy making dinner.
If making dinner tends to be the most stressful part of your day, try these 5 tips to make it easier and more enjoyable.
5 TIPS FOR GETTING DINNER ON THE TABLE WHILE KEEPING YOUR SANITY
BEGIN WITH A CLEAN SPACE
Time is limited when cooking with littles around. I’ve found that if I take a few minutes to at least just clear the counters, I enjoy everything involved with dinner so much more. This is something that your kids can help with too. My kids love unloading the dishwasher and clearing the table before and after dinner. I also like to have them tidy up our living areas. This gives them something to do while I get dinner started and it makes family time after dinner much nicer.
HAVE A PLAN
Menu planning not only helps my family save money and trips to the grocery store, but it also helps keep me sane in the kitchen. When I have a plan it’s easier to get my kids involved and things just go better.
If you need inspiration for your weekly menu, visit Pinterest, or join a Facebook group dedicated to cooking. You can also check out Andrea’s post on meal planning for dummies.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Unless you just love cooking for the sake of cooking, then this season of life might not be the best time to make everything from scratch. I’ve found that purchasing items like minced garlic and rice packets that I can easily throw in the microwave saves me a lot of time. I also like to buy baby carrots, mini bell peppers and occasionally pre-cut apples from Costco so that I don’t have to spend time cutting things up for my young children.
PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY
Have you ever picked up your phone to double check a recipe you saw on Pinterest only to see that you received a text from a friend? Before you know it you’ve checked your email, updated your Facebook status and scrolled through Instagram, completely forgetting about whatever was on the stove.
Try printing out your recipes or looking them up on another device that won’t distract you as easily. This will also help you engage with your kids more if you’re trying to involve them in the cooking process.
DONT GIVE UP
The great thing about making dinner, as with most things in parenting, is that you’ll have a chance to try again tomorrow and the next day. So the jar of spaghetti sauce wouldn’t open, the sink flooded and your noodles were over cooked? Don’t fret friend, tomorrow is a new day and they will need to eat. Again. And you can try again.