After a long busy day at work or at play, I cannot fully express the joy and peace I experience when I come home to dinner fully prepared. Add to it that it’s all (mostly, does bagged salad count?) homemade and healthy (again, mostly) and I couldn’t be happier. Thank heavens for the man that thought up the slow cooker! (I linked to the history of the slow cooker because I, too, just had to know, was it a fella that thought up the genius appliance or a frazzled woman tired of plowing through the drive-thru line in her Model A?) Of course, a slow cooker alone does not dinner make. Put to work these 3 tips and six o’ clock won’t seem so daunting. (And check out five of my favorite slow cooker recipes below!)
- Have a plan.
Menu planning is such a huge help toward simplifying dinner. Having a plan for the day’s meals alleviates stress and helps everyone know what to expect. Check out this post (and free printable!) on menu planning!
- Be prepared.
Once you have your menu planned for the week, be sure you have the ingredients you need to make it happen. It may seem obvious, but being ready with what you need to prepare the meal you have planned is key to actually making the meal. I cannot tell you how many times my good intentions and glorious plans have gone down in flames because I forgot a key ingredient. Take a cue from Mr. Claus and check your list twice, then try to schedule grocery shopping into your week ahead of time. 5pm on a Monday night is not the best time to pick up groceries for dinner at 6.
- Start the night before.
Many slow cooker recipes need a little work before you can hit the switch and promise to rendezvous again later. And many mornings I just don’t have time to brown the meat or open 2o cans of tomatoes. Rather than start your day stressed, do your work the night before. My favorite approach to slow cooking is to assemble everything in the insert the night before, then in the morning I can pull it out of the fridge, pop it in the slow cooker, and switch it on before heading out the door. A few minutes of preparation Sunday evening can lead to a stress free Monday morning and a delicious Monday night.
Now on to the yummy part, a few of my favorite recipes…
How do you simplify dinner? Tell me in the comments below!