Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How not to lose your marbles over dinner

As a mom of six kids, people usually ask me question that begin with "How do you have the time to..." With smaller families and busier schedules, it's hard to imagine finding enough hours in the day for larger families to accomplish much of anything! Like anything, it's all about how you manage and plan your time.

Over at Twittermoms, Samsung is sponsoring a sweepstakes for a new refrigerator, and let's face it, unless you've recently remodeled with an unlimited budget, we all want a new fridge! My fridge didn't get updated when we did our renovations earlier this year, so I'm desperate for any chance to get a new one!

This brings us to our Teach It Tuesday...How do I, as an insanely busy mom of 6 kids, get dinner ready quickly without losing my marbles?

Step number one is always know the location of your marbles.

That is to say, get a look at the big picture for the week. Where do you have to go? What do you have to do? Then plan a dinner around that!

It really doesn't take that long to sit down and plan your menu out each week. A menu doesn't have to be set in stone. It gives you an idea of what meals you can serve during the week. When you go to the grocery store, you know what food you need. This means you aren't staring at the refrigerator wondering "What can I make?"

I always plan with a schedule in mind. Wednesday night is our most chaotic night. The kids and D get home around 4:30. They have to leave at 6 for activities. During that hour and a half, we have to get all the homework done and cook dinner. D has to make any parent calls, so he's pretty much unavailable to help. It's a complete three ring circus. If I'm not careful, instead of being the ringmaster, I'll end up the lion roaring at everyone and pacing around in my cage. Every Wednesday night, we have something quick and easy. By Quick and Easy, I mean something I can whip up in about 15 minutes.

Step two is use your marbles slowly.

If you are concerned about time in the morning to put everything in the crockpot, get everything ready the night before after life has slowed down a bit and keep it in your refrigerator until you are ready to go! This is why having a removable crock is one of the most important features of a slow cookers.

Utilizing your slow cooker helps you give your family a hearty meal with the illusion that you put a lot more effort in to it than you did.

The best part about them is they are dump and go. You drop the food in. You turn it on (some even feature a delay timer!). When you get home, dinner is D-O-N-E!

The most important part about that scenario is that you actually turn the crock pot ON. I've left the house one too many time times thinking dinner is going to be wonderful when I get home, only to be missing those yummy smells when I walk in the door because I never turned the crock pot on.

This brings me to step three: Have extra marbles.

Having a disaster plan is important in every aspect of life management and dinner planning is no exception. Whenever we have leftovers, even if it's just one serving, I use my vacuum sealer and place it in the freezer. This is an instant frozen dinner. The kids get to have all the fun of picking out what they want to eat without standing in the frozen foods aisle waiting for them while the clock is ticking away. You also don't lose valuable time waiting for fast food or the pizza man.

Disaster plan dinners also include those meals where you always have on hand. Around our house it's pancakes or from scratch mac n cheese (it doesn't take that much time!) These meals are also great for those nights you try a new recipe and it fails miserably.

Dinner is one of those things that is really intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, really isn't all that bad. It can be an amazing time for the family.

The final step is to share your marbles.

Sharing always makes life easier and happier for everyone. Meals made together and eaten together make for quality time together as a family. Allowing your children into the kitchen to help with dinner teaches them important skills ranging from math to following directions to gaining confidence. Who doesn't want their kids to learn those things? And best of all, everyone still has plenty of marbles left at the end of the day.


  1. Love the marble metaphor, Micki! Great blog. I could use a new frig and would love to enter the contest, but that's WAY too many steps for me, LOL. I tweet but I don't have a public blog.

  2. fabulous advice! I especially like the one about know the location of your marbles.

    I mailed your Halloween apron swap package so you should be receiving it very soon if you haven't already.


  3. I so could not live without my slow cooker! It is my life saver.


Thanks and have a great day!