I asked Professional Organizer Lea Schneider of Organize It Right Now to address the biggest organizing challenge for moms of young kid in the fall/back to school season. I found her response (below) to be very helpful. Enjoy!
Dinnertime’s the Real Back-to-School Challenge
By Professional Organizer Lea Schneider
During back-to-school season, you’d think moms would be itching to organize uniforms, school supplies or car pools. They’d worry about getting out the door on time or struggling with homework.
While all of the above topics do need organization, the thing moms tell me is the biggest organizing challenge? Dinnertime.
“It’s planning and making dinner after a long day,” said one mom. “I’d just love to come home to a healthy meal but that never happens,” said another. Still another said “I don’t worry about keeping the house up, as much as making sure we can sit down to meals together.”
Mom in the City blogger, Kimberly, asked me to round up some advice for mom’s back-to-school biggest organizing challenge. Here’s a new way to tackle dinners!
• Plan a week’s worth of menus and groceries. (Two weeks is even better but sometimes storage space or budget nixes that idea.)
• Save your menus! Grab a binder or folder. Too tired one week to come up with new ideas, grab your folder and reuse a previous week. Who is going to know?
• Follow a basic formula that let’s you get through Monday- Thursday with ease. Try this on for size:
Monday- Oven roasted dinner made ahead the night before
Tuesday- Crock-Pot night
Wednesday- Soup and sandwich night
Thursday- Love your freezer night
• When you do your menu plan, try to fulfill the above schedule. Here’s how it works.
• Saturday or Sunday- Make a dish that can be doubled. You will freeze half. This could a stew, soup, chili, casserole, pasta dish- nearly anything can be made and frozen. If you do one each week, you’ll have some to choose from in the freezer for Thursday nights. (You might make a couple extra to get your freezer stock started.)
• Sunday night– Do your prep work for an easy dinner for Monday night. You could easily season chicken or fish for baking, scrub some baking potatoes, make a meatloaf, stir together a casserole or dozens of make-ahead things. Cover and refrigerate.
• Monday– come in and slide the prepared meal into the oven. While it bakes, toss your ingredients together for tomorrow night’s Crock-Pot meal. You can either refrigerate it in the Crock-Pot removable liner or in a covered bowl which can be poured into the Crock-Pot the next morning.
• Tuesday– Enjoy the already made Crock-Pot meal.
• Wednesday– Mid-week deserves a night off from cooking. Serve soup and sandwiches. Kids’ love vegetable and tomato soup especially if you offer some garnishes like Goldfish crackers or shredded cheese. Most sandwich ingredients are healthy. Vary your sandwich fillings and soups from week to week. Kids will also enjoy making their own from the ingredients you line up on the counter. Vary the bread too- hoagie rolls, buns, toasted rye bread are good choices!
• Thursday– Pop that frozen casserole in the oven. Heat up a veggie or add a quick salad.
This planning allows for a wide variety but takes a lot of stress off of too-much school night cooking.
Here’s a favorite slow-cooker recipe you might like for Crock-Pot Tuesday.
Easy Beef Stew
1.5 pounds stew beef
1 bag frozen stew vegetables
1 can tomato soup
2 T. dried onions (optional)
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Stir all of the above together in slow cooker. Cook for 8 to 10 hours on low. Whole wheat rolls and applesauce sprinkled with cinnamon make a nice way to round out the meal.
©Professional Organizer Lea Schneider is the author of Growing Up Organized: A Mom-to-Mom Guide. Her organizing advice has appeared in “Woman’s Day, Natural Health and Better Homes and Gardens Kids’ Rooms” magazines. She is the Grand Prize Winner of the Rolodex Office Makeover Challenge. Her team of professional organizers, at Organize Right Now, provides organizing assistance online through www.organizerightnow.com.