As we head into August, many of us are in need of some inspiration for family dinner ideas for the last month of summer. We most likely have had our fair share of cookouts, burgers on the grill, or just winging dinner altogether. If you are feeling the need to get back to basic healthy dinners around the table, yet need some ideas and time saving tips, read on!
Family Dinner Ideas to Save Time This Summer (and into the fall)
Create Easy “Salad” Plates:
One of my favorite ways to get a quick healthy dinner on the table during the summer is to do a “salad” plate. It is not really a salad in the traditional sense but more of a collection of healthy foods assembled on a dinner plate. This is a great family dinner idea for young children as most of it is finger food and easy to eat. It also is a great way to use up leftovers.
A mix of some proteins, veggies, fruit, and something with some crunch will provide variety and a good boost of nutrition. I also try to select items that require little chopping so meal prep is even quicker. A typical plate in our house might include the following:
- Proteins (1 to 2 per plate): hard boiled eggs, chickpeas, leftover grilled chicken from a previous dinner, tuna salad, or smoked salmon
- Veggies (2 to 3 per plate) sugar snap peas, baby carrots, asparagus spears, or bell pepper slices
- Fruits: grapes, berries, apple slices
- Fats/Dips: sliced avocado, few slices of cheese, some nut butter or favorite salad dressing (for dipping fruit and veggies)
- Crunch: whole grain pita chips, pretzel chips, almonds or favorite nuts.
Embrace Your Slow Cooker!
Do you think your slow cooker is just for the cooler months of the year? Slow Cookers are a busy family’s best friend during those long days of summer. By using your slow cooker, you don’t need to heat up your oven keeping your kitchen cool. Whether you are at work all day or coming back from the beach or pool, coming home to a healthy dinner on the counter, ready to be served, is a beautiful thing!
If you are looking for some inspiration, try these easy family dinners using your Slow Cooker:
Double up on Cooking Nights:
Another family dinner idea for summer: to keep oven use to a minimum and to save time, consider cooking double the quantity of certain recipes. For instance, if your weekly plan involves a roast chicken, make two. Enjoy one roast chicken the first night, then save the second for making up a batch of fresh chicken salad or Chicken Caesar salads another night. This also works with seafood. For instance, if you normally buy 1.5 lbs of salmon for dinner, up it to 2.5 lbs and cook it all the same night. Put away the extra for Salmon Fish Tacos a few days later. If you want some additional ideas check out these recipe here:
Take Advantage of Online Delivery:
If you are really short on time or just need a break from the weekly trips to the store, try having your groceries delivered. Even if you use this just once or twice a month, it will save you a significant amount of time. It may also save you money by limiting in-store impulse buys. Many delivery companies offer promos to give their service a try so you may even find the cost of the delivery is free. At The Dinner Daily, we are a partner of Peapod and you can read more about how easy online grocery shop can be here: https://thedinnerdaily.com/one-click-ordering-from-peapod/
And if nothing else, have a plan!
One of the biggest ways to waste time (and money) with dinner planning is to avoid having a plan. Don’t skip this important step! At the beginning of the week, plan out what you are going to do for dinner, as well as your other grocery needs, and do not step inside your store until you have a well organized list. Not only will you find shopping so much easier, you might find preparing dinners for your family is actually pleasant when you know what you are doing ahead of time. No one likes wandering around the grocery wondering “what are we doing for dinner?”. Try using some of the tips above and get your plan in place for the week ahead. Also, if you are looking for some additional guidance on meal planning in general, you might be interested in this article: https://thedinnerdaily.com/meal-planners-guide/
Of course, we understand meal planning can be time consuming and might just not be your thing. If you would like help planning your dinners, we know a thing or two about that. We would be happy to provide you with a dinner plan for your family that is based on your food preferences and what is on special at your local grocery store. You can check us out with a free two week trial by clicking here: http://www.thedinnerdaily.com/subscribe
Do you have other tips on how to save valuable time on dinner planning? We would love you to share them below!