How to Make Family Dinner Happen Consistently | Recipes and 2 Week Plan

We really try to make dinner the one meal and time of day that we all sit down together for. It’s definitely not always easy to make happen in the different seasons of activities and two little ones but it’s important to us.

The task of actually getting dinner made is always the struggle.

If I work from home I have a little wiggle room on not thinking about what we will have at least the night before, but on the days that I am in the office and don’t have something planned, then you can guarantee a mac-n-cheese night or we are ordering pizza! Being at home allows me to get meat out to thaw, or to be there at home earlier than if I would have had a commute so I can start on making it earlier.

The other struggle is when my husband isn’t there to help juggle the boys while I make everything. Of course, when I go into the kitchen to make something everyone follows and wants food immediately.

I know that cooking at home has become more of a lost routine, but not only does it save our family money, it helps us eat healthier, brings us together and creates routine for our kids – which is super important.

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Let’s get straight to the truth of how I make dinner happen every night – simply put, the best tip I can give you is to have a plan.

Yep! That’s it.

So how do I do that you ask?

Every Sunday, at some point I list out Monday through Friday and write down what we are going to have for dinner each night, considering the week aheads evening activities. 

Need a template and plan for meal planning? – Check out my healthy meal planning guide.

I only plan for meals that I have the ingredients for already so that I don’t have to stop by the store, or this becomes another excuse for not making dinner and ordering out.

If you need more insight on grocery shopping and how to only make a trip to the grocery store every 3 – 4 weeks, check out THIS article. 

I also am mindful in planning as many “simple”, minimal labor intensive, meals throughout the week as possible. I save the “gourmet” cooking for Saturday and Sunday when I have the time to do all the work.

Determining the base or main ingredient/featured item of the meal can make a difference too. How simple is it to cook and can anything be prepped ahead of time? We do a lot of ground beef/venison and chicken as the main ingredient.

When I use ground beef/venison, a lot of times I’ll brown two pounds of it. Split it and put half of it in the fridge for another meal later in the week, so I’m saving time from browning and just reheat and season accordingly. For example: Taco meat on Tuesday, the other half for sloppy joes on Friday.

Growing up on beef and coming from a family of dairy and beef farmers meant routine dinners consisted of steak/burgers and vegetables fresh from the garden. While these meals were healthy, I also have come to appreciate chicken and the need to be mindful of how much red meat our family is consuming.

Not only is chicken a healthy meat option to add variety to our dinners, it can be more cost effective and if anything it is super easy to use and is very versatile.  

Let me take a moment to briefly explain the healthy, easy to use and versatility of chicken. As soon as you read “boiled chicken” I am sure many of you will turn up your nose, but please, give me a chance here by reading this post all of the way to the end.

Purchasing fresh or frozen bags of chicken breasts is relatively inexpensive and chicken is a healthy protein/meat option. What many miss here, is that purchasing chicken like this offers up the opportunity to get a head of the dinner game by boiling it at the beginning of the week and then having it ready to put into meals throughout the week. Boiling chicken is an extremely healthy way to cook chicken and keeps it very moist.

When you are ready to use a portion of the boiled chicken later in the week, you add a bit of water and the seasonings to flavor to your desire and reheat it. You can also add it into meals such as stir fry or pasta; the flavors from these will cook into the precooked chicken. Boiling chicken is healthy, easy, and saves you tons of time!

If you’d like to read more about how to specifically boil chicken, storing it and uses for it, check out the blog post I wrote on boiling chicken breast and using it.

Check out these recipes on the Hint of Happy site!

Chicken taco salad 

Healthy Greek Chicken Salad 

Buffalo Chicken Wraps 

Chicken Fajitas 

Another super simple dinner that we all enjoy is Asian Fish/Shrimp Tacos.

Baked salmon, sautéed shrimp or breaded shrimp or fish

Small flour tortillas

Asian Salad Mix with dressing

Avocado sliced

I also recommend keeping a running list to always reference back for ideas. Many weeks we have the same dinners as we did the week before. This helps with grocery buying too!

Here are some of the latest dinner ideas that we rotate frequently.

  • Asian Tacos
  • Chicken Salad
  • Salmon Rice Bowls
  • Chicken and pasta
  • Beef tacos or nachos
  • Shrimp stir fry with rice and veggies
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Buffalo chicken wraps
  • Hot dogs
  • Mushroom, spinach and tomato quesadilla
  • Beef and broccoli and rice
  • Spaghetti and meatballs

Dinner should be all about keeping it simple and doing any preparation that you can, in advance. Keeping a log of recipes that you enjoy is important to the success of healthy dinners and will alleviate future decisions when it comes to making dinner at home or picking up the phone and calling in something for takeout.

In my opinion, a dinner made at home is always a healthier option that ordering takeout or going to the restaurant to eat.

Today I challenge you to begin keeping a log of healthy recipes that you enjoy for dinner. You can create a board on Pinterest, or print out recipes and keep them in a binder. As your collection grows, so will the variety of healthy meals that you have, and the times you opt for dining out will dwindle. All contributing to your healthy lifestyle and reaching your healthy goals.

Comment below with your favorite, go to easy healthy dinner to share with others who read this post!

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