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Let’s Talk Food…and Budget…and Stay at Home Directives

LOL! My friends loved seeing their ideas in our last blog post. They asked for another happy hour discussion! (Or maybe a great excuse for a happy hour!) They felt they have so much to share. So I said sure, and let’s talk about food. Well, they came ready to talk!

At first there were a lot of complaints and kvetching! “The amount of food” “The constant grazing” “The amount of carbs” “My food budget is out of control” and “The state of the kitchen” were the immediate shout-outs. All our complaining helped us see what we considered to be the specific food challenges of staying home ALL THE TIME with the whole family.

Generally, I would classify this group of friends as “get it done” kind of people. I already work from home, but for many, working from home is a new challenge, in so many ways.

There’s a time and place to mourn our life as it was, and a time to move on to decide how to handle our new normal.

We’re all pretty sick of the “perpetual weekend”. So it became apparent we’re all ready to take back control and institute new rules and schedules into our home lives. Ideas and suggestions were welcomed. Most of us already knew what we needed to do, but when you say it out loud, it creates accountability, like starting a new workout program with a friend. You have to show up!

We were collectively concerned with the amount of food being consumed, our food budget, keeping the place organized, how to keep away from stress eating (too many chips and sweets), and how to enjoy cooking in this environment.

We determined that a solid schedule was the key to solving our dilemma.

There were a number of groans from the group, but all agreed a good schedule keeps everyone on more of an even keel. It’s like teaching a toddler the word “No” and meaning it. It’s tough for the first couple of days, but then so much easier thereon out. 

  • Hand Washing: This is now a no-contest step prior to prepping, cooking and eating any foods. Avoiding Covid-19 is the perfect reason to make sure everyone in the family learns this step as an enduring habit.
  • Breakfast: Serve the main meals at the same time you always have. As in, get up in the morning and have breakfast. None of this rolling-in-at-all-hours-of-the-morning and messing up the kitchen again stuff. Those with teenagers were particularly impassioned about this issue!
  • Lunch: Make the lunches in the morning or night before, just like you always have. This reduces grazing and helps you keep tabs on supplies.
  • Dinner: Plan out your dinners and let the family know this is what is for dinner. Don’t deviate unless there is a very good reason. This is a good time to encourage everyone to take part in the planning. Planning gives us that sense of control and the whole family will benefit from participating.
  • Snacks:  Plan for healthy snacks. Cut up fruits and veggies in advance and make sure everyone knows what is available for snacks that day. Susan complained that every time she went to the fridge to use an ingredient, like peppers, she would be out. Her teenage daughter was eating all the veggies! She didn’t want to complain because it was the healthy choice, but then her recipe for dinner would be missing that ingredient. She just needed to know what she had on hand.
  • Close the kitchen: You’ll get a lot of complaining from the kids but it really helps. If your teenager didn’t get up for breakfast then they don’t get breakfast! Lunch will be soon. We tend to overeat if we are bored, stressed, tired and/or without a schedule. This reduces the mess, the overeating, and helps keep our budget tighter.
  • Cook Together: Try pairing different members in your household to plan and prepare a meal. Or ask what new dish they would like to learn to make. Typically, many of our kids are on a sports field or in drama practice and don’t often get to help. It’s a real opportunity to teach the importance and ease of cooking at home. Trust me, they’ll thank you later.
  • Start Earlier: For those of us that have always worked from home, we know how nice it is to start preparing the meal earlier in the day. The stress of getting home from work and then starting dinner doesn’t happen for me. Julie loves that she can now do her chopping and prep at lunch time.
  • Plan: With every good schedule there is a plan. Planning your dinners and adding the other items needed for the week to your DinnerTime Grocery List will help you shop faster and more efficiently, which also helps with the budget.
  • Manage Your Inventory: Everyone agreed they wanted to go to the grocery store as little as possible to reduce the risk of contamination. Actively using and training your family to use the DinnerTime Pantry Manager will cut your costs and frustrations considerably. Learn more about how to use the DinnerTime Pantry Manager.
  • Make meals ahead: Just like you might normally, make up several meals and freeze them. Soups, stews, casseroles etc… are all good choices. Make extra and drop it by your neighbor’s house. We all need a little help sometimes.
  • Challenge your family: Everyone can help find ways to cut back on the food budget. Make more from scratch, eat only at designated meal times, eat at the dining table, and cut out junk foods like chips and store-bought cookies. My happy hour group all expressed interest in helping those less fortunate. By relieving some of the stress around our food budgets, we all agreed we would be able to donate to more causes feeding those in need.

What’s for Dinner?

Include these great recipes in your plan.

You can search for an ingredient (e.g. eggplant, etc) the name or part of the name of a recipe (lasagna), a cuisine (Italian), type of dish (e.g. soup), an occasion (Thanksgiving, breakfast, tailgating, etc).  in your  DinnerTime Recipe Box.

A delicious and calorie-friendly dish.

 So easy to make and smells amazing as it cooks!

  A hearty vegetarian option made with pantry staples.