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Dinner Time – Meal Prep and Getting Your Kids to Talk at the Table

Dinner Time – Meal Prep and Getting Your Kids to Talk at the Table

Now that the kids are back in school I decided to embark upon my goal of our family eating at home more often. It’s healthier and less expensive than eating out and I just love when I can get the whole family around the table. Studies show eating together as a family will make your kids smarter, stronger, and more likely to visit home after they move out. Ok, maybe not- but it’s good for them!

Now, my 2 boys are not big talkers. One-word answers are the norm and begging for details from their day is not fun. My daughter will give us an hour-by-hour play-by-play of the whole day though and I wanted to balance this out. So I decided to put their God-given sibling rivalry to use. I have a contest each night on who tells the best “story” from their day. We call it Story Time. It can be something funny that happened, something interesting, a cool project they are working on- whatever they want as long as it’s true (had to add that rule…).  But the best story out of the 3 kids “wins”. I am the sole decider of the best story. Entertain me offspring! The prizes change but they are simple things like the last dinner roll that they all want, or the biggest piece of cake. Sometimes if it’s their turn to put the dishes in the dishwasher I’ll do it for the winner. These things are quite motivating to them all and I have got SO much more info from them! Plus, one story often leads to another so it gets the ball rolling for overall good dinner conversation. Yay for Story Time!

The food part of dinner is another story. I have been struggling! We have limitations on dairy, nuts and seafood. I’ve tried a couple meal delivery systems and enjoyed them but kids mostly didn’t, and the fact that everything was perishable and had to eaten in one week was difficult with our changing schedules. So I saw someone online talk about a freezer meal plan they had done to make 10 frozen meals in one hour. Interesting…

I looked up the plan and for about $12 it gave you access to hundreds of recipes and many, many plans. You can choose any of the pre-made plans or make your own- choosing every entrée yourself. The “build your own” plan was perfect for our family since I could tailor it to our finicky tastes. After you choose your recipes it supplies your shopping list, assembly instructions, and even labels for each meal.

The website is great and even has video tutorials where they cook one of the plans in entirety for you to watch! Not something I would do every time but great for me since I’m a newbie.

Now, I did have some technical difficulties. I downloaded 10 recipes on my computer but only five went to my phone app (yes, they have an app) that I used for my shopping list and I didn’t realize this until I had already started prepping the food at home. But after I got that straitened out it went well. I mean- it took me 3 hours instead of 1 and my kitchen looked like…

Yes, I am the messiest cook

BUT- I now have 10 meals (2 of each of the 5 recipes) in the freezer and it’s a huge mental break knowing I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner for a while! Also, shopping actually took less time than normal because I knew exactly when I needed instead of trying to make up dinner plans as I shop.

We have eaten a couple meals already and they are good! It helped a lot since I chose them and know what will work for our family and can alter the recipe a bit if needed.

These bag holders are essential!

If you want to check out the website for the meal planning I used its right here My Freeze Easy

A couple helpful tips:

  • make sure you have plenty of room in your freezer- should be obvious but I just barely got it all in!
  • These bag holders hold open your ziplock bags- SO helpful! Jokari Bag Holders and yes- I bought 6 because it was the same price as 2. I gave the extras to family. #weirdgifts
  • Set your number of servings higher if you want leftovers/extra for lunches and pack some lunches as you go.
  • The website suggests shopping one day and cooking the next- I agree that helps
  • Plan your week’s meals so you can defrost what’s needed and make sure you have any side dishes you need
  • There is a LOT happening at once during assembly so choose a nice quiet time when kids won’t need you

Hope your week is going great!

-Cher