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How great would it be to cook dinner four to six nights each week… and actually SAVE time? It may sound challenging (I know, because I used to think so too!) but with a little preparation, making healthy and delicious homemade dinners can be even easier and faster than ordering—or even heating up—a pizza!
  • KEEP MEALS SIMPLE: The key is to have a collection of recipes that are easy, quick, balanced, healthy and kid-friendly—many recipes take 20 minutes or even less to prepare.  Having these on hand makes it a snap to create a satisfying family dinner with minimal effort.  Time Saved:  20 minutes/day, or 100 minutes/week
  • PREPARE A WEEKLY MENU: Having a weekly menu allows you to shop only once each week for ingredients, avoiding those last minute trips to the grocery store.  Time Saved:  60 minutes/week (about 2 extra trips to the store)
  • KEEP YOUR GROCERY LIST UPDATED AND SHOP WITH A LIST: When you use up an ingredient you consider a staple, write it on your grocery list right away so you’ll be fully stocked after your next grocery trip.  Time Saved:  20 minutes/week (about the time to dash into the grocery store for a forgotten item)
  • KEEP YOUR KITCHEN WELL-STOCKED: With a well-stocked pantry, you can easily throw together a quick meal on those nights when things don’t go as planned.  (Some items to have on hand include canned beans for burritos or taco salads, tortillas, eggs, whole grain pasta and frozen veggies.  What’s more, grocery trips each week should be even faster if you’re well stocked with staples.  Time Saved:  10 minutes/week
  • USE CONVENIENCE ITEMS OR “SHORT CUTS”: Pre-chopped vegetables?  Minced garlic? If these short cuts help you to get that pot of soup on the table rather than ordering that less-than-healthy soup from the take out place down the street, then go for it!  Time Saved:  25 minutes/week in chopping/prepping
  • HAVE A SYSTEM FOR YOUR KITCHEN: Dinner prep will go a lot faster if you know where everything is in your kitchen.  Time Saved:  10 minutes/week in speedier cooking
  • DOUBLE 1 RECIPE EACH WEEK: And freeze it for another night.  This is like having a dinner savings account – what a great feeling!  Time Saved:  30 minutes/week (the time it might take to cook an extra meal)
  • PREP IN ADVANCE FOR MEALS AND LUNCHES: Morning person?  Make dinner prep part of your morning routine, even throwing the ingredients for dinner in the slow cooker.  If not, do a little chopping or marinating the night before while you’re cooking dinner.  You’ll feel a lot less harried come the next day’s dinner.  Time Saved:  25 minutes/week
  • MAKE A PLAN AND ENLIST HELP: Simple but important—read the full recipe before cooking. And, recruit help even from small children.  Remember, it takes a village!  Time Saved:  15 minutes/week in work you have delegated
  • EASE CLEANUP: As you’re cooking, collect all your “trash” in a small container by the sink rather than going back and forth to the kitchen trashcan.  Composting, anyone?  Time Saved:  5 minutes/week
  • CLEAN STRATEGICALLY: Put the ingredients away as you use them and have a streamlined system for washing dishes.  This saves time and  Time Saved:  10 minutes/week
 Aviva Goldfarb is a Family Dinner Expert and founder and CEO of the family dinner planning site, The Six O’Clock Scramble. Aviva is author of 3 cookbooks including SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Meals for Busy Families and The Six O’Clock Scramble Meal Planner published by the American Diabetes Association (Feb. 2016). Aviva has appeared on the Today Show and is frequently featured in national parenting, lifestyle and health magazines and TV and radio shows.

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Children's Service Society · 655 East 4500 South · Suite 200 · Salt Lake City, UT 84107 · USA

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