5 things you can do this weekend to have better dinners next week.

5 things you can do this weekend to have better dinners next week.

The weekend’s almost here! Time to relax and forget about the weekday grind – including the dinner hour, right?

Not so fast. The weekend is the perfect time to prepare for a week’s worth of dinners. Most families have more time on their hands for planning and tidying on Saturdays and Sundays than on busy weeknight evenings. Try doing one or two of these simple tasks this weekend, and you’ll be ready for a great week of Kitchen Hours on Monday:

1) Look at the sales circulars and make a shopping plan. Every Saturday we get a weekly hometown newspaper, and I always set it aside for Sunday evening, when I’ll take a few minutes looking over the sales circulars and making my shopping list for Monday. Sundays tend to be quiet and slow at our house, so it’s a perfect time to prepare for the upcoming week. And when my shopping list is already ready to go, it makes it a lot easier to get out the door and head to the store on Mondays!

2) Clean out your pantry. Even after my Extreme Pantry Overhaul of 2010, I find that my pantry needs regular – quarterly, at least – maintenance to keep it functional and organized. Nothing kills my will to cook like a cluttered, crowded pantry where I can’t find anything – but a tidy, organized pantry puts me in the mood to get dinner on!

3) Go pantry and freezer shopping. Speaking of that pantry, is it possible you don’t need to do a big grocery trip this week at all? “Shopping” the pantry and freezer for the upcoming week’s meals are one of my strategies for reducing food waste. I’m often surprised at the good stuff I find in there, and always feel good when I rescue it from expiring.

4) Clear off the table. Whether your family tends to gather around the table in the formal dining room or the kitchen island, is it a clear, clean, inviting space…or a dumping ground for papers and random items? (I spy a stray sock and a medicine dropper on mine…)

Large spaces have a tendency to collect “stuff”, and tables are especially vulnerable targets. No biggie: just take a few minutes to clear it off, wipe it down, and maybe add a pretty tablecloth or some flowers over the weekend. Come Monday, you’ll be looking forward to gathering around that table with your family to eat.

5) Look at the calendar and make a meal plan. Which nights in the upcoming week do you have a lot going on, and which ones are more relaxed? Are there certain days you’ll be home early enough to put in a roast or a stew, or do you need to break out the slow cooker? I like to plan a “nuggets & noodles” night at least once a week, where I give myself a break from cooking and serve “kid food”, as well as leftover nights after an especially big meal. Looking at the calendar in advance means I don’t have unexpected surprises and can plan the bigger meals for the nights I will actually be able to make, serve, and eat them!

What are some ways you use the weekend to set yourself up for a great week of dinners?

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  1. Alison