Thriving Through The Dinner Dilemma

dinner dilemma

The Daily Dinner Dilemma

It’s 4 o’clock, or maybe even 5, and you have no idea what’s for dinner. The children are restless, they’re tired, and they’re arguing. You’re breaking up fights and you have to figure out what to feed these people. Have you been there? Or is it just me? Today I’d like to share with you five tips on how to not only survive, but thrive through the daily dinner dilemma.

There’s really two challenges to over come here. The first is figuring out what’s for dinner, and getting it on the table, and the second is how to manage the chaos happening around you. I don’t understand what happens around four o’clock, but as mentioned above, I feel like the kids are in this restless state, and they’re tired, and it just comes out in negative ways. Whether your children are toddlers or school age kids, I’ve found this to be true. These tips will help you with both challenges. Are you ready to face the dinner dilemma head on?

Tip #1

Meal plan.

thriving dinner dilemma

This really is the main key to the dinner dilemma. It’s the most important tip I have today, and I know you’ve heard it before. You know this, it’s just a matter of actually doing it. A long time ago, when I was in the corporate world, we use to have this saying, “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail”. I think it holds true here too. It takes discipline. I have to schedule it to make it happen. But it’s so worth it!! Even just knowing what’s for dinner at the beginning of the day takes a huge weight off my shoulders. It’s kind of like exercise, I know tons of people that don’t really enjoy exercise, but I’ve never heard anyone say they regret doing it. Really, have you ever heard someone say “I really wish I wouldn’t have worked out today.” No! Of course not, and it’s the same with meal planning. You won’t regret it because although it takes a little time, it will make your life so much easier. Here’s a free printable for a weekly meal plan, and here is the planner I use.

Tip #2

Start dinner early.

dinner dilemma

A little meal prep will go a long way. If you can chop veggies or thaw meat early in the day, do it. Then when it comes to putting dinner together, much of the work will be done and it will come together quicker. If you’re having a casserole or lasagna or something like that, assemble it in the morning so all you have to do is put it in the oven. Plus, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished so much early on!

Tip #3

Play relaxing music.

We’ve moved into managing the chaos. Having soothing music on in the background will help create a calming atmosphere, for you AND the kids.

Tip #4

Light a candle, or diffuse some essential oils.

dinner dilemma

I’m a big fan of essential oils. There are so many different kinds and they have awesome benefits. You can actually diffuse something that will help calm people, or uplift them, etc. Lavender is probably my favorite scent and it’s known for calming and relaxing.

Tip #5

Plan an activity for the kids.

dinner dilemma

I like to pick something that isn’t too messy, and something they don’t get to have access to anytime. You might think about having a little bin full of a few activities that the kids only get to play during this time. If it’s “special” it’s more apt to keep them occupied during that time. The dollar store has these cute paint with water books where the paints are right on the page. My kids will often sit at the counter while I’m cooking and paint a picture. Oil pastels are another art medium that isn’t messy, yet it’s different than crayons or markers. Word searches or crossword puzzles are fun, and you can find those free online. Sticker books, or a special coloring book that only comes out at this time. Make words with scrabble tiles ( great way to practice spelling words). Write a gratitude list. A toddler can play blocks or play with your tupperware at your feet. Or, quiet time. Sometimes we all need a little quiet. So, why not give them a bedroom time/quiet time activity that they can do on their own in their rooms. Down time is good. They can look at books, or do a puzzle. They may not want to, but it may be what you both need. Have a different activity for each day of the week to make it more interesting.

Easy Dinner Ideas

Good bye dinner dilemma! Here’s some ideas to get you started on your planning.

  • Tacos~ who doesn’t love tacos? Make a double batch of meat and put half in the freezer so you’re ready for the next week. Mexican is fantastic because the same ingredients create many different recipes.
  • pasta night~use a whole grain pasta for added healthy benefits. You can change up the sauces each week and it feels like a new meal, yet it’s still pasta
  • Sandwich night~How about a hot sandwich for something easy but different. Ham and cheese baked in the oven. Melt some butter, mix it with chopped onions, mustard and a little honey, pour that over the top of the ham sandwiches, cover and bake. (Mouthwatering, isn’t it?)
  • Pizza Buffet~Top your own french bread pizza. Just have some french bread and toppings ready and let your kids choose. My kids love the buffet style dinner. You can do it with tacos, salads, rice or noodle bowl.
  • Soup, salad, baked potato night. A filling meal that comes together quickly.
  • Breakfast for dinner~pancakes, eggs, bacon and toast.
  • Meat and Cheese plate~Put assorted deli meats and cheeses out on a plate. Add bread, or crackers, fruit (dried or fresh), nuts and veggies.
  • Traditions~have a couple nights of the week that is always the same thing. For example, we always do pizza on Friday nights. Sometimes I make it, sometimes we order it. Sunday nights, we always have popcorn and apples for dinner (well, the kids do, mom and dad do take out after the kids go to bed EARLY. This is our “in-date” night)

How do you thrive through the dinner dilemma? Do you have any tips to add?

Need some recipes?

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Chellie is the author behind the blog Art From My Table, where she shares her passion for celebrating food and life around the table. She believes food is a love language. When she's not developing recipes or writing on the blog, you'll find her spending time with her family, or reading a book.

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