3 Easy Tips for Creating Stress Free and Fun Week Night Meals

Holiday Dinner Table

Everyone’s schedule is always so busy and finding time and having the energy to plan and cook every night can be next to impossible. But that doesn’t mean that take-out has to be the go to for those nights when dinner isn’t making itself. With a little planning, enjoying healthy food and spending less time in the kitchen can be accomplished.  Of course having some fun while you are there will make your eating experience far more pleasurable.

Set the Stage:

  • Light a candle, turn the lights up or down to change the mood. Set a beautiful table, use cloth napkins or those special dishes out that only get used once a year.
  • Create an efficient works space so you can see what you are doing, and stay organized by getting the ingredients and utensils that you will use out.
  • Breath. The energy you have will carry through to what you are cooking. Even if you are moving quickly through the cooking process, being relaxed and mindful will bring you more joy and your food will taste better too

Play some music while you’re cooking. Choose something relaxing or upbeat, whatever suits you. Music keeps you grooving while you are working. Studies show that playing music in the background helps to calm your system.

Enlist Help: Have your spouse, significant other, or kids assist with getting ingredients out, chopping vegetables, stirring and/or cleaning up. Involving your kids in the cooking process can be one of the best ways to get them to try different foods.

Cook Once, Eat Twice:

  • Make more of whatever you are cooking. The basic idea here is to cook a larger amount of food at one time and use part of what you cook for other meals during the week or to freeze.
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    I love making the table look special with different napkins folds.

    • Grill extra meat or veggies. Use grilled vegetables in salads or with whole grains
    • Try doubling or even tripling soup or casseroles and freezing them. This is a great way to have something on those nights when slicing a cucumber takes too much effort. You can pull these from the freezer and reheat with very little effort.  Voila, dinner is served. Or portion out into individual containers to freeze or eat for lunch.
    • Another idea is to plan to cook two things in one day. Think about making a double batch of soup or a casserole that freezes well and doesn’t take much prep time. While that is simmering/baking sauté some chicken, make a salad etc. Whichever one you don’t eat that night, have a different night.
    • For an instant breakfast:  cook a larger batch of oatmeal and re-heat during the week. Try making oatmeal while you are making something else.

Being healthy is more than just eating healthy food. Slowing down and enjoying the process of cooking and eating allows the body and mind to feel more satisfied.  Imagine reducing late night cravings just because you enjoyed your dinner more by making it fun and engaging for the whole family or just creating a special night for yourself.

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