Whether you've just spent the last hour battling rush hour traffic in the rain, or been down on your hands and knees picking up Lego from the living room floor - by the time dinner time rolls around, we are almost ready to drop.
That's why we are always looking for some new and inspirational ways to make evening times run a little more smoothly.
Here are some top tips for getting dinner for the family on the table in just 30 minutes.
1. Plan ahead
Let's be honest, every minute counts when it comes to this part of the day. The baby is cranky, your patience is limited and everyone is hungry. Make a shopping list the night before, or the weekend before, depending on your level of organisation. Have all the ingredients ready to go so that you are not faffing around unsure of what to make, or realise you have run out of one ingredient at the last minute. A dash to the supermarket at 5.30pm with three little ones is what we are trying to avoid at ALL costs!
2. Let them help
There are two schools of thought - stick on the TV while you peel and boil to your heart's content, or let them muck in with you. Personally, I find that if I don't involve my little ones, they tend to be more demanding of my attention which is quite disruptive when you are trying to puree sweet potato. When I say 'help' I mean let them stir and set the table. It sets a good example for future chores and gives them a sense of pride and purpose within the family.
3. Choose something super easy and delicious to make
There is no point in making something that nobody is going to eat. There is nothing more frustrating than spending time on a meal that doesn't get eaten. Choose wisely for your little brood - we LOVE these Southern fried chicken tacos that don't take long to make, and you are guaranteed empty plates. What's not to love?
What you'll need:
2 Birds Eye Southern Fried Chicken breasts
1 avocado, mashed
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
Ready-made mild salsa
Coriander and lime on the side to serve
What you'll do:
Cook the Birds Eye Southern Fried Chicken according to package directions. Then, warm a wrap, then using a small bowl or cup to help you, cut out 3 taco shapes in the wrap. Next, spread some mashed avocado, shredded lettuce and red onion on each taco. When the chicken is cooked, cut into strips and place on top. Drizzle some salsa and top with fresh coriander. Secure using a toothpick if you have one.
4. Make it fun
Dinnertime is usually one of the main times of the day that you all get to sit around together and catch up on your day. Stick on some good music, tell them a funny story from your day and chat to your little ones about some of the big events from their day. It is a wonderful opportunity to find out who they played with in the schoolyard, or what activities they enjoyed most at Montessori. Even the baby will adore hearing your chatter even if he can't answer back. Try to keep things upbeat and associate mealtimes with quality family time rather than a test about who eats the most vegetables.
5. Have a dinner strategy
There is no harm planning a dinner timetable for the week on a Sunday evening. It means everyone knows what to expect and you can shop ahead for the ingredients. You can even assign a theme for each night - Monday is Italian night, Tuesday is curry night, Wednesday is chicken and so on.
Whatever way to decide to organise your week, the key is organisation and knowing what works for your family. Happy mealtimes, mums!
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Looking for some simple and tasty meal inspiration? Captain Birds Eye has lots of great ideas that are perfect for lunch boxes and family dinners. Check out these great recipes.
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