Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Getting dinner ready on time

I've been making a concentrated effort to have dinner ready on time each evening. And it really does have to be a concentrated effort, with the many interruptions of small children underfoot! :)

Ready for dinner!

A few tips that help me prepare a timely dinner:

Plan to have all the food finished at least 5-10 minutes before the set time to eat. The food will still be hot if it's done 10 minutes early!

Clear, wash, and set the table early, as well. I have had many evenings where I did "my part" of preparing the entire meal on time but then it took 5 minutes to clear the table of clutter, 5 minutes to set it, and 5 more minutes to gather everyone up... :)

And for the task of clearing and setting the table -- utilize any helpers available! Having boys old enough to do these tasks (with guidance) is such a blessing and really helps speed things along! :)

If you have little children in your home to help, make them wash their hands before helping set the table -- and then they'll be already washed for dinner! (Well, unless you have them set the table 30 minutes early... then they'll probably need their hands washed again!)

Plan simpler meals. Do some freezer cooking and use it to take a night (or more) off from cooking each week! For larger scale freezer cooking (or once-a-month cooking) check out Crystal's blog.

We do like some frozen casseroles, but what I really like is having parts of meals prepared in the freezer -- like fully cooked leftover chicken, ground beef, or beans (prepared from dried). Making a big batch and freezing smaller portions really saves on prep time later! :)

Do any of you have tips to add on this topic? I'd love to hear how you streamline or simplify getting dinner on the table! :)

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1. Freezing pizza dough
2. Dinner ready on time tips (Tereza)
3. Substituting brown rice syrup for sugar (Alea)
4. Soup mix tips
5. Cooking with dried beans (Carmen)
6. Pizza sauce in a pinch (Kolfinna)
7. Dishwasher tips
8. Mustard for burns (Annie)
9. Masa harina for quick pizza crust (Rachel)
10. Spice grinder kitchen trick (Gwen)
11. Freezer cooking and planned leftovers (Gabrielle)
12. Tortilla press for mini pizzas (Susan)
13. Keeping frozen chicken from drying out (Linda)
14. Baking in warmer months (Cheryl)


I wrote about that very same subject not so long ago

How is baby Moshe doing? I'd love to see a current pic of him!

Baby Moshe is doing great... thanks for asking! :) I have some photos of the kids and am hoping to find time to do a "family update" type of post soon! :)

I have had too many evening when dinner is ready, but the table is not. When I start cooking, I hav emy older kids start preparing the table.

My husband doesn't come home at the exact same time each evening, so I ask him to call before he leaves, so I will have an idea of when to have dinner ready.

My tip this week is on my gluten free blog. it is for substituting brown rice syrup for sugar when baking:

Alea @ Premeditated Leftovers

What great ideas for getting dinner ready! Thanks.

Here's my tip:

I discovered this refreshing orange mint tea recipe over the weekend, and even better is you can freeze the concentrate for later! Great for spring parties.

Here's my tip for this week

Cooking with Dried Beans:

Carmen @ Life Blessons

Good Morning Tammy!
Here is a link for an easy recipe that helps mornings go a lot faster!

Those are all great ideas. Freezer cooking has helped me the most. I guess I would add making a meal plan! If I don't have a plan, I'll spend way too much time trying to figure out what to eat!

My tip is about loading the dishwasher "correctly" (if there actually is a correct way!! : )

here is a tip that I learned just yesterday about using mustard for burns

My favorite, no hassle, last minute pizza crust.


*AND* todays post on my blog tells how to get a great deal on Maple Syrup...but I wasn't sure if that counted as a real tip or not. ;) Here it is, if you want to post it, you can:
Swing by my slightly cuckoo nest for family favorite recipes, herbal remedies, funny kid stories and more fun stuff!

I love freezer cooking, but I also plan to have leftovers frequently. This works well for our small family, and then I'm not having to cook every night of the week.
Here is one of my posts on freezer cooking and meal planning:

I share my quick recipes for honey mustard dipping sauce here:

So yummy, quick, and inexpensive!

I don't have a link, well other than to my blog which is not about Kitchen Tips;) Anyway, a couple tips I incorporate into our routine with four kids under age 8...
1. Always have a plan...even if the plan is to eat leftovers or go out. Fail to plan, plan to fail is so true with multiple little ones!
2. After cleaning the kitchen, I always prep for the next one. After supper, I get out the cereal boxes and bowls or whatever I can to make breakfast smoother. After breakfast, I cut up veggies and fruit for lunch, make sandwiches,etc. for lunch. After lunch, I defrost meat, make a salad, prep the casserole, etc. for dinner. This way, if the day gets horribly off track, I at least have the next meal in the works and I can get back on track later.
3. Fill plates at the stove, eat at the table. Sounds weird, but it cuts down on the amount of things needing to be cleared from the table, encourages everyone to eat what they have before taking another helping, and makes the table feel less cluttered.
4. Pack lunches at dinner time. With two lunches to pack for the next day, I fill up lunch containers from the dinner vessels before putting them away. This saves a LOT of time and if the next morning is behind schedule, lunches are already made.
5. Make clean up a family affair. No one in our family, including the baby, is excused from the table until it has been cleared, floors swept, dishes done, garbage out, etc. Clean up is an continuation of our fellowship as a family and it teaches our children they are expected to help clean up after each meal.

Hope this helps someone else!

Thank you for adding these wonderful tips!!

Let me know what you think of it after you make it. :o)

My tip is for keeping frozen chicken from drying out.


Hi Tammy :-)
When I'm cooking in the kitchen at camp, I know that I have to start a meal at least two hours before serving time. Then again, we'll be feeding 250 at meal time :-} Praise the Lord for instituional sized warming ovens! I did a post once about using your home oven as a warming oven, you will find it listed under 'Hopefully Useful Tips Directories' on my blog.

Anyways, I too was having troubles with timing dinner at home until I implimented the same type of schedule for myself. I guesstamate how long it is going to take to prep what ever needs to go in the oven, add the amount of baking time, add fifteen minutes to that just because, and that is when I start dinner. Often there is time between when you put something in the oven and when you need to start the side dishes to attach the table or something similar.

We use to have it that certain children were assigned to helping set the table, and others were assigned to clearing it and helping put away leftovers. They rotated on a weekly basis.

Due to a sick son I didn't link up yesterday. hope it's still okay to do so today.

Warm Weather Dessert # 3

Having dinner ready on time is one of my biggest struggles. Thank you to all who shared strategies that I can implement!

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