Friday, November 14, 2008

The Witching Hour

Let's talk about dinnertime. Every mother of young children struggles with getting dinner in the oven without sticking her own head in the oven out of despair. It's the time of day when everyone's starting to get tired, hungry, and cranky. Spending an hour preparing dinner is out of the question.

I have a list of things that I do to make dinnertime preparation more manageable. I'd love to hear any of your tips or suggestions, as well!

1) A crockpot is a busy mom's best friend. Check out A Year of CrockPotting for some great recipes, if you haven't already. (By the way, Target has an awesome 5.5 quart programmable Smart Crock Pot on sale this week for $19.99!)
2) I remember that once upon a time, I used to go out and do fun things on Friday and Saturday nights. Nowadays, a lot of weekend nights you'll find me in my kitchen, cutting vegetables after the kids go to bed. If you hook up your iPod with some good music, pour yourself a nice glass of wine, and dance, you can almost imagine that you're at a club. I suppose you could even wear some trashy clothes, if you wanted. Back to the point - I buy bell peppers and onions in bulk, and then dice and freeze them so I can just take out a handful and throw them into the dish when I'm cooking. The food processor would work well for this, too, but I find chopping vegetables to be therapeutic. Before I started freezing them, I was always having to throw out slimy bell peppers, because I couldn't use them fast enough. No more waste! You could do this with whatever vegetables you use most often.
3) Make one, freeze one. It doesn't pay for me to make an entire casserole for my family, since the leftovers never get eaten in time, so I divide a casserole or lasagna recipe up between two smaller (8' x 8') pans and freeze one. I use a Sharpie to mark the aluminum foil with the name of the dish, the cooking instructions, and the date on which I froze it.
4) Curious George episodes on the DVR. My kids don't watch a lot of TV, but we've recently discovered this show on PBS, and both kids turn into zombies when it's on. At this time of day, that's preferable to their usual curious puppy personas (chewing on non-edible items, piddling on the carpet, knocking over lamps).

So, what things do you do to keep yourself sane while you're trying to prepare dinner?


C. Beth said...

Great (and funny) advice!

The swing helps with Zoodle. I don't have much beyond that, but really like your advice.

Becky said...

I couldn't have lived without the swing when my kids were babies. I only wish there was something as sure to soothe and entertain older kids as the swing does to babies.