If you have a family with young children, it can be difficult to come up with dinner ideas every single night, and even more difficult to find enough time to cook. The idea of multiple home-cooked meals a week may seem impossible, but it is important for many reasons. One, it helps create family time. This is especially important if one or both partners are working, and may not get to spend time with their kids during the day. It also ensures your children (and by extension, you and your partner) are eating healthy. While eating out or ordering in may be more affordable and much more convenient, it is usually unhealthy. Cooking your own meals allows you to incorporate healthy ingredients and alternatives.

Plan Ahead

It is essential to plan ahead if you want to set a pattern of home-cooked meals. This will not only allow your children to get in a rhythm, it will also make it much easier to cook and organize your day. While it may seem like a difficult task, once you have a successful system in place, you will have more free time, eat healthier, and save money. If your partner is working or busy, ask them for their input before you begin making a meal schedule. Next, you need to assess your weekly routine. Things to consider include which days do you have the most free time to cook, which days and times can everyone in the family sit down together, and when is the best time to shop for groceries. You should schedule one day a week to go grocery shopping. If you have your meals organized, you should be able to know exactly what ingredients you need. It is important to avoid becoming overwhelmed, however, so start at 4 or 5 meals a week (with the remaining two meals either takeout or leftovers). You can also designate one night a week to always be the same meal, such as Taco Tuesday. That will make it easier to cook and plan your dinners. Don’t be afraid to have simple dinners on your schedule. If you know that you are extremely busy on a Thursday night, or your partner won’t be home, or the kids have to be somewhere by a certain time, do something simple like hot dogs or sandwiches. The key is to make a schedule that is simple to follow but also flexible.

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Recipes

Luckily, with the internet and other mobile phone apps, it is easier than ever to find simple and fast recipes. Many of these dinners are not only easy to make, they can be extremely healthy. One popular meal is a shrimp and spinach pasta. You can remove the shrimp if your kids are not a fan. They should like the pasta, however, and the spinach ensures they are eating enough greens. If you are cooking for just you and your partner, you can try a chicken, zucchini, and prosciutto dish, which makes a delicious salad. Ultimately, there are hundreds of easy recipes online to choose from, which should help you when it comes to scheduling family dinners.

Family Time

Family dinners are extremely important because they allow family members to spend time together. This is especially important if one or both spouses are working, or if the kids go to school or play sports. You may not see each other throughout the day, so eating dinner together, even if it’s only for 15 to 30 minutes, allows family members to catch up and talk about various things.