This is the place for busy moms to share their best tips for making easy dinners with one another. Moms are always going to be looking for easy dinners for busy nights. I’m here to share my best tips to help you feed your family on those crazy days and lots of other moms are sharing their tips, too.
The Best Tips for Making Easy Dinners
As moms, we are all crazy-busy. Between babies, toddlers, work, after-school programs, volunteering, soccer, basketball, all the other sports, and church, there just isn’t a lot of time to get dinner on the table. We’re feeling so stressed and overloaded most days, and then … it’s time to feed our people.
We want to make a reasonably healthy dinner, stay out of the drive-thru, and save money all at the same time.
It’s a ton of pressure.
There was a season when I had 4 kids on different soccer teams all at once. I didn’t want the kids to miss out on any opportunities, so after school and Saturdays, we would drive from one field to another. We spent lots of evenings running through the drive-thru because there just wasn’t enough time to eat at home.
It was costing us so much! We really didn’t have the money in our budget for so much eating out, either. And, I knew our nutrition was suffering.
So, I’d had enough!
I had to learn some tricks to make it possible to eat a dinner that wasn’t made at a fast food restaurant. Slowly but surely, we completely transformed our dinners using these tips and now we rarely eat out.
These are some of the tricks we relied on and I hope they can help you, too.
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9 Of The Best Tips for Making Easy Dinners On Busy Nights
Tip 1: Put Your Kitchen Appliances to Work
- The Crockpot and Instant Pot are the busy mom’s best friends. I use mine all the time. I use my Instant Pot more, but there’s no way I’d get rid of my slow cooker. They are the best thing for cooking my freezer meals perfectly, to make soups in a dump and go fashion, and to turn cheap cuts of meat into tender, amazing meals. Some weeks, I use my Instant Pot every single night.
- You can take your hot food with you and eat right out of the car.
Tip 2: Make a Picnic
- Throwing together a picnic could be the answer to your dinner dilemma. In fact, it may be your kids’ favorite meal of the week. There are so many ways to customize your picnic to your family’s likes. Keep one of these sets in the car for those times you need to eat while out and about. And, don’t forget to keep some paper products tucked away in the car.
- Meat, Cheese, and Crackers
- Cold Chicken
- 7-Layer Bean dip with Chips
- Chicken Salad with Baguette
- Pasta Salad
- Cold Cereal
Tip 3: Simplify Your Dinners
- Consider that dinner can be a lot simpler than it used to be. You don’t have to eat meat and 3 sides for dinner anymore — this isn’t the 1950s anymore. Teach your family that it’s ok to eat very simple meals. Try making 1-pot dishes and cold meals on your busy nights. Some ideas?
- Canned Soup
- Oatmeal with Toppings (yes, I’ve done this for dinner)
- Sandwiches, obviously
Tip 4: Make “No Fast Food” the Rule
- You know fast food isn’t the best for your budget or health, but the kids are so great at pushing us to run to McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Subway. It’s time to put your armor up and stop giving in to their requests. Just let them know that you’re not doing fast food anymore. I know it’s simple and can be pretty tasty, but it’s a new day. You’re on a mission now to see how long you can go without relying on fast food.
Tip 5: Freezer Meals
- The simplest way to make freezer meals happen is with MyFreezEasy, a subscription freezer meal service. You get step-by-step plans and can create 10 freezer meals in an hour on one of your days off. That way it’s super easy to pop them in the slow cooker or Instant Pot ahead of time.
- Read Why You Need a Freezer Meal Plan.
Tip 6: Cook Ahead
- On Sundays, I typically make a large batch of something. Sometimes it’s turning a value package of chicken breast into grilled chicken breasts, cooking a large pork roast or beef roast, several pounds of hamburger meat, or cooking a whole chicken. Once I have a large batch of protein cooked, then I can make several simple meals from it.
- See here how to make Batch Cooked Chicken Breasts.
- The protein is usually the longest-cooking portion of your meals so having that cooked ahead of time translates into the best time savings.
- I created the Weekly Family Meal Prep in order to cook once and eat all week.
- Here’s a great list of Cook Once, Eat Twice Meals.
- Put your Instant Pot to work in the evening while you’re watching tv. You could be making chicken breasts, chili, or my 5-Ingredient Instant Pot Black Bean Soup.
Tip 7: Prep Ahead
- Use your weekend to wash and cut all your vegetables and fruits.
- Make casseroles ahead of time.
- Pack things into easy to transport containers.
- Gather all your paper products and non-perishable food.
Tip 8: Use Your Grocery Store’s Convenience Foods
- While making your own food is usually the most frugal, you can still find some great convenience foods at the grocery store. Here are some of the things I pick up when I need a fast meal.
- Rotisserie Chicken
- Deli Footlong Sandwiches
- Salad Kits
- Sliced Cheese
- Cut fruit
Tip 9: Create a Meal Plan
- The truth is … if you haven’t planned your meals ahead of time, you’re probably not going to have what you need on hand for dinner. You can Make a Frugal Meal Plan in 7 Steps or even a Simple 10-Minute Meal Plan. The most important thing is to have a plan.
- A Monthly Meal Plan will keep you on track all month long. Plus, you can use it over and over without getting bored. Go read the Ultimate Guide to Monthly Meal Planning, here.
I know it can be frustrating on those busy nights to come up with a quick and easy dinner. I’ve been there — I’m still there, but I keep learning along the way. It will get easier in time, especially with a bit of practice. Stick with it and you will see lots of big wins and you’ll come up with a routine that works best for you.
Share Your Best Tips for Making Easy Dinners on Busy Nights
Here are some great easy dinner tips from other moms just like you. At the bottom, you can submit your best easy dinner tip, too. Let’s all share with one another.
I make a large meal on the nights I know that we are all home and use the leftovers as quick dinners (or lunches) on the days that we are all running in different directions. Tacos are a really versatile meal because you can use the leftovers to make more tacos, burritos, salads, nachos, pizza, Yumm Bowls, etc. I always have rice, tortillas (corn and flour), tortilla chips, and ready-made pizza crusts in the house for this reason. In addition, a family favorite is spaghetti. I will make a big pot of sauce and then cook up noodles throughout the week as needed. — Margaret, teacher and mom of 2
A rotisserie chicken from Costco pieces into chunks, BBQ sauce, shredded cheddar put in a romaine lettuce wrap. Pair with tortilla chips, watermelon, corn etc.. whatever I have available. Quick and healthy and requested. — Allison, mom of 3
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15 Minute Meal Builder
Use this planner to build 15-Minute Meals that your family will love. Printable forms with suggestions and fill-in worksheet. Includes 10 15-Minute Dinner ideas.