While my car doesn’t don the sticker that declares it, I am a soccer mom. In fact, I’m also a gymnastics mom, Odyssey of the Mind mom, Girl Scout mom and the list goes on. Needless to say, we’re often running around during the dinner hour, or what is typically considered the dinner hour. Add that to the fact that I’m not the quickest or most confident cook and you’d think we would live in the fast food lane. But, for the most part, we don’t.
During the past 25 years in America, dinners at home have dropped 33 percent. At the same time, numerous studies show that families who come together at the dining table have stronger bonds. Now celebrating its 90th anniversary and thus, 90 years at the family dining table, the folks at Shamrock Farms know a thing or two about making mealtime doable in this crazy world we live in.
Here are a few of the many tricks that I’ve learned thanks to the experts I’ve met at Shamrock Farms.
1. Cook your protein once. Whether grilling chicken or sautéing ground beef, cook a full package all at once and then store the extra in the fridge to use for another night's meal.
2. Plan your meals for the week in advance. Planning all your meals for the week may sound difficult, but it will probably save you more time than anything else. Think about how long it takes to decide what you want to eat after a long day at work when you are already tired and hungry. You don't have to sit down and write a detailed menu for every night of the week, but it's a good idea to have a general sense of which meals you are going to prepare. Meal planning isn't just a time saver; it also reduces your number of trips to the supermarket and encourages healthier choices and better budgeting.
3. Don’t be afraid to stock up on fresh items to save trips to the grocery store. Shamrock Farms products are so fresh, they’re guaranteed a full 7 days past the package’s printed code date.
4. Reduce the mess. The same strainer you use to drain spinach can also strain your pasta, and the same pot you cook your pasta can also heat the sauce.
5. Establish family dining traditions. For example, make every Friday dinner Pasta Night. It'll be one less day to discuss what's for dinner.
I’ve also come up with a few tricks of my own that work for my family. The most important one being – why does dinner have to be at 6 p.m.? Sometimes we eat at 4 p.m. and other days it’s 7 p.m. Sometimes I give my kids their fruit and veggies right after school when they are hungry and will eat anything I put in front of them. Then, we’ll eat more of a meal with proteins and grains later on(or maybe just dessert!). As long as we’re sharing time together, it doesn’t actually matter what time. My children also like to choose what’s for dinner one night per week. They take the meal even more seriously when they’ve come up with the menu (or at least most of it).
What are some of your tricks for making a meal an enjoyable family moment (breakfast counts too!)? Tell us here for your chance to win! Five people who leave a comment below will be randomly selected to win a Roxie Pack of free dairy products and four free tickets to the Shamrock Farms Farm Tour.