POPSUGAR Celebrity

Simple Ways to Ease the Dinner Rush Now

Aug 26 2012 - 3:43am

Weeknight dinners get even crazier when everyone's timetable is different. With after-school activities, busy work schedules, and little ones running amok, getting a quick, easy, and healthy dinner on the table can be a challenge. Ease the dinner rush with a few simple tricks that guarantee results — many of which you can start tonight! Click through for some ideas the whole family can get behind.

Source: Flickr user slightly everything [1]

Out of Sight

Create a space where everyone's stuff gets stashed when returning home at the end of the day. This way the clutter isn't a distraction while everyone is enjoying family dinner. Take the time to make the area welcoming and organized, which will encourage everyone to do the same.

Source: Flickr user Unskinny Boppy [2]

Double It

The next time you're making your family's favorite dish, cook a double (or triple) batch. Pop the extra in the freezer, making sure to write the date and dish on the ziplock bag, and you're guaranteed a quick dinner another night. Just about anything can be tossed in the freezer and still be tasty and fresh. Check out how this busy mama makes dinner a snap by cooking big batches of brown rice and freezing it in easy-to-reheat portions [3].

Source: Flickr user aMichiganMom [4]

Stock Up on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fill your pantry with fruits and vegetables, which cook quickly. This way your sides are always fresh and can easily be steamed on the stove top or microwaved in minutes. Go with seasonal fruits and veggies, which also keeps costs down. You can even start the week by slicing and dicing veggies and then keeping them crisp in ziplock bags for later in the week. Thinly slice celery, carrots, and zucchini for stir-fry or chop carrots, potatoes, and leeks for a hearty stew. Wash and dry lettuces, wrap several leaves in paper towel, and then store them in large plastic bags for quick salads.

Source: Flickr user georgeparrilla [5]

Canned Beans to the Rescue

Canned beans are full of protein and are a wonderful addition to soups or stews or as a side. Only requiring minutes to make, swapping beans for frozen french fries is also a tasty way to eat healthy. On your next burger night, consider making this easy Cat Cora recipe for baked beans [6].

Take It Easy

Opt for easy dishes instead of multistep and multipan recipes. This way you're guaranteed easy cooking — and easy cleanup. Select 30-minute recipes [7] for weeknight dinners and plan adventurous meals for the weekends when there's more time for cooking in the kitchen. Invite kids to offer suggestions for fun dinner options, which also gives Mom a break from meal planning.

Source: Flickr user sun dazed [8]

Get Some Help

Enlist anyone not cooking to make sure the table is set. Even little ones can help put out plates and napkins or be in charge of clearing plates and loading the dishwasher or sink. Giving each family member a task makes dinnertime run smoothly and creates family meal success.

Source: Flickr user jules:stonesoup [9]

Run the Dishwasher

End the day to the hum of a running dishwasher, which gives you a head start on the busy day tomorrow. If you don't have a dishwasher, create a family assembly line and make washing dishes the final part of your dinnertime routine. If you've got little ones, pick up a set of plastic plates [10], which ensures you won't have broken dishes when it's your lil one's turn to offer a helping hand.

Source: Flickr user jmrodri [11]

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