Don’t be afraid of the dinner!!

5 Oct

People sometimes think of the family dinner as a bit of a drag.  Mom has to come home after a long day of work only to go to work again in the kitchen.  It can be daunting.  Here is the exciting part though….it does not have to be that way!  This is an easy way to pull off a great family dinner.  First, do a little planning when the moment arises.  Stock that pantry and freezer.   Portion meat out into reasonable portions.  Toss it into the freezer.  Next grocery store trip, also stock up on frozen vegetables.  Toss those in the freezer too.  Make sure you have some Minute Rice and thin pasta on hand too.  While you’re at it, grab some easy side dishes like Rice-A-Roni or Lipton noodles (as a self proclaimed food snob and daughter of a pure scratch cook, it pains me to admit that I have used these box side dishes, so step aside while I ask my mother to forgive me).  When I make daily family meals, I will usually only spend time on one part of the meal.  For example, I will make a fabulous savory spice rub for chicken breasts or pork tenderloin, then “cheat” on the rest of the meal.  So here is what goes onto the table for the family meal:  Savory pork tenderloin, Lipton noodle side dish, some frozen veggies that I popped into the microwave, and a bunch of fresh grapes.  I rub the tenderloin with some spices that please the palate, like equal amounts of basil, oregano, thyme salt and pepper and splash it in a bit of olive oil.  In the oven it goes, and my opportunity opens up for a glass of wine or warm herbal tea while the tenderloin (or protein of choice) cooks.  The children wander into the kitchen to chat.  A neighbor pops by for a minute to drop off hand me downs.  A few minutes to connect with neighbors and family is priceless!  After 25 or 30 minutes, I get the side dish started on the stove top.  I toss the vegetables into the microwave and round up the children to set the table.  Voila!  Dinner is ready, the family can happily gather around the dinner table, and the food is nutritious.    I have practiced this method, and it can be easily mastered with a little planning.  The payoff is so rewarding!  So take a peek inside those dusty cookbooks, but don’t stress.  One fabulous part of the meal allows the rest of the “cheater” meal to become guilt free.  Family dinners need to be fun for all! Don’t let those kids off the hook after the meal either.  They can load the dishwasher!

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