Here are three Quick and Easy Ideas to Make Dinner FAST. Sometimes it can seem like it’s a never ending cycle of prepping food, eating food, cleaning up after eating and then having to start it all over again a couple of hours later. Family food related activities take up way too much of our time.
Our lifestyles are getting busier and we are making up time by grabbing food on the run rather than preparing it at home.
4 Interesting Fast Food Industry Statistics
1. 79% of U.S. families visited McDonalds in 2016.
2. The Fast food and drive through industry is estimated to be worth 198.9 Billion U.S. Dollars and will reach 223 billion by 2020. Source
3. In 2016, there were 28 thousand more fast service restaurants in the U.S. from a decade ago. Source
4. People spend less at higher-priced restaurants and more [money] at fast food outlets. Source
What do these numbers mean for families?
Thousands of years ago (I’m talking cave man era) our two biggest concerns were predators and finding food. In that order. I’m sure there were a couple of other issues that came about in the day – but those two topped the to do list. Both Mom and Dad hunted, gathered and kept the kids safe. It was a full time job.
Fast forward to around 80 years ago, the economy and opportunity meant more and more woman started working full time to support their families. Time became an issue. They needed faster food options and quicker ways to get things done. This led to the rise of Supermarkets, microwave ovens, dishwashers and more recently fast food outlets.
Now, families are busier than ever. Time is the one thing we don’t have enough of. We are making food choices based on convenience, speed and cost. The quality of food we are feeding our family often comes second to all of these things. And let’s be honest – We may not be happy about it, but a lot of us are doing it.
The Two Imaginary Food Choices
There is this idea that there are only two choices when it comes to providing dinner for our families. The first is to buy it ready made and steaming hot, and the second is to become the new and improved Martha Stewart and cook everything from scratch in our own kitchen. The middle ground is too confusing.
I don’t want to depress you here, but for most families, making everything at home can be really, really overwhelming. I know because I did this! And I don’t believe it’s achievable to the average Mom – unless of course she is prepared to forego sleep in favor of bottling home grown pickles in her kitchen.
The Good News is that it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. You can feed your family healthy, home cooked dinners – and drive right past that McDonalds drive thu’ – just by being a little smarter about it.
Here are 3 Dinner Time Hacks to help make Dinner time Easier and a little Less Stressful:
1. It’s OK to Cheat.
. Use Convenience Foods as part of your meal. You are not a bad Mom if you buy pasta sauce in a bottle or a loaf of already baked bread. It’s perfectly OK to use bagged lettuce, baby carrots, or anything frozen. Just be smart about it. Choose convenience goods made with real food ingredients and you are good to go. There are tons of good quality foods available to make your life easier. These items make it easier to put together a family dinner fast. Throw the bagged salad into a bowl, boil some ready washed potatoes, fry some deboned and skinned chicken (or cooked Rotisserie Chicken (Try to make sure it’s free range) and add a ready made dressing. Voila! You have a fast, healthy dinner in a fraction of the time.
2. Keep it Super Simple.
Every meal doesn’t have to include a three course dining experience. Get familiar with a few fast meal options (You can download my list of 12 Fast Meal Ideas at the end of this post), stick the list to fridge and you will never be stuck with the ‘What to make for dinner‘ problem again.
3. Focus on Fast Clean Up.
Cleaning up after a big dinner is enough to ruin your evening. A kitchen counter full of hard to Clean Pots is enough to discourage any cook from doing that again tomorrow night. There are a few things you can do to make after dinner clean up quick and painless:
- When I casserole, bake or roast, I use aluminium foil or baking paper to line roasting bans and baking trays. This means that I can simply throw away paper or foil and dishes are really easy to clean.
- If I know that there is a day when I am going to be short on time, I will even use disposable plates or baking trays for the evening. For some of you, the idea of using disposable plates or baking paper in oven trays may seem unnecessary or just a waste of money – but if making everything homemade is overwhelming you and you find yourself dreading cooking at home or getting fast foods more often, then seriously – what have you got to lose -just try it! – Use paper towels and a Spray and Wipe Bottle to clean bench tops and fridge.
- Wipe down the oven after cooking with a paper towel and spray and wipe.
- When I make meals to go into the freezer, I always use disposable aluminium trays. It’s my way of making my own convenience food and I love those nights!
Cooking for your family doesn’t have to be stressful or fill you with guilt. Try these 3 Easy Dinner Time Hacks and make dinner time easy!
For more Fast Dinner Options, Get my Free Printable List of practical, fast & Healthy Family dinner ideas by completing the form below.