-Have ideas for dinner ready to browse. One day I will be a little more organized and laminate note cards with my dinner ideas and put them all on a ring. But until then I have a little composition notebook that I use to write down all of my dinner ideas by categories. Starting with type of meat (or meatless). Then breaking them down further into types of food, i.e. Mexican, Italian, BBQ, etc. Eventually I will also add the ingredients to the note card system, mentioned above, to each meal so that meal planning can be even easier. I have to admit, I am not very good at meal planning. I hate being put into a box when it comes to what is for dinner. Lately, I do not have a set plan for dinner until around lunch time of the same day...BAD...I know! Typically I will stock my cupboards and freezer in such a way that I can make most meals in my notebook with what I have in stock. Sometimes I will ask my husband to pick up something to go along with dinner on his way home from work, like fresh produce or cheese. That is probably not the best route, but it works for me. I have, in the past, made lists of meals I am wanting to make and then I can do the shopping ahead of time. Then I was able to pick from my list when I was deciding what is for dinner that day. One day, I will get back to that, especially now that I have a vehicle again while my husband is at work. Before we got our van fixed it was quite challenging to go shopping late at night to get everything. I would rather go without some things, then have to go so late at night. I have been ordering a lot of my food items from Azure Standard. I am able to shop right from my cell phone, while I am laying in bed, it is SO much more convenient. And the prices are good compared to other places I already shop. (Wow, this post is turning into the confessions of a mom with 6 little kids post....hahaha!)
-Wash dishes as you cook. I am not consistent at this either but it really does cut down on dishes after dinner.
-Have the kids help clear the table and wash their own dish and silverware or put it into the dishwasher. Even a small child can be taught to wash a plate or bowl! (Plastic is a good idea)
-Since we don't have a dishwasher, dishes can become overwhelming. So I wash in shifts. I wash dishes for 10 minutes or as many minutes as I have available and I come back to them later. Even though that goes against my nature, I have settled in with the fact that I may not finish the dishes every time. And because I decided to do it this way it is a SANITY saver.
-Store leftover dinner in a container that is ready to be reheated for lunch the next day. You can even cover it with foil. I always try to make enough leftovers to eat another meal, that makes for less time cooking in the kitchen. And... pack your husband a healthy lunch with the dinner leftovers as you are putting the food away.
-Improvise! There has been many times when I was cooking a recipe and then I realize I don't have an ingredient. I look up a substitution for the missing ingredient on Google. The possibilities are endless on Google! No running to the store for just 1 or 2 ingredients.
I hope you find some of these ideas helpful! And if you have time saving tips for the kitchen please add them in the comments below.