Choose a weekly menu and tear out the pre-made shopping list
The key to successful and stress-free cooking is having a weekly plan and a shopping list. Each weekly menu uses some ingredients more than once. Read through all the recipes for the week and prepare some ingredients in advance.
Buy all the groceries you need for the week, in one hour or less
Go to the store with your list. Know in advance what you need, this will save you time and money. You will not be tempted to buy excessive items and you will feel confident and prepared when it comes to making a delicious dinner.
Prepare the easy and delicious recipes
Frequently ask your kids – no matter what age – to help you. Follow our “Helping Hands” tips for ways to include younger children. Encourage older ones to make the recipes with just a little of your help. Or you can split the tasks – have your children prepare one aspect of the meal while you work on another. This will save you time and the kids will quickly learn basic cooking skills and become comfortable in any kitchen. Children who help prepare meals look forward to serving and eating them – even the picky eaters! They take pride in their cooking success, feel included in family time and are more eager to try a variety of foods.
Apply the “No-Excuse Rule”
Be consistent about family dinner nights. Resist the temptation to bargain by setting firm boundaries on what you are serving and at what time. There is no substitute for family dinner time!
Sit at the table and eat together
About five to ten minutes before dinner is ready, ask family members who are not already helping to set the table, dress the salad or toss the pasta. Now they are in the kitchen and will be more inclined to sit down and eat. At the table, keep conversations positive and non-confrontational. Encourage picky eaters to try at least one small bite of a food they don’t like. After they taste it, if they don’t want to keep eating it, they can say “no thank-you.” Young kids need to try the same food several times before they become accustomed to eating it.
And…please turn off the TV.