I have two really easy and fun ideas for saving both time and money on your family dinners. Today I'll tell you about one of them. Next Monday, I'll post the 2nd.
Find 3 - 4 friends who have similar sized families (and similar cooking styles, I might add). Make up a plan for each of you to make dinner for all of the other families once a week. You will take Monday, Brittany takes Tuesday, Cheri takes Wednesday. . . every week. This is SO EASY. On Monday you cook all afternoon making dinner for yourself and the other families, but all the other days of the week dinner magically arrives at your door while you never stepped into your kitchen. Wow.
A few guidelines are helpful:
1. Set a standard time when dinner will be delivered
2. Dinner should include 1 main dish and 2 side dishes
3. MINIMAL or no cooking should be required when the food arrives at your house. It should basically be ready to set on the table.
4. We bought matching sets of storage containers to transport food in, so you never had to return anything.
5. No weird foods
6. No Pizza Hut because you were too busy/tired to cook on your day-- you are expected to deliver a home cooked meal on your assigned day.
Just a few of the benefits:
*The $ savings at the grocery store is incredible. When you're only buying supplies for one meal during the week (even though it's to feed 4 or 5 families) you buy a whole lot less stuff. And you can buy the big bulk size, knowing you will use it all up.
*Nearly every week you'll have enough leftovers so you won't have to cook on Saturday or Sunday either.
*You don't have to plan a week's menu anymore. Freedom!!
*You'll never run the kids to McDonalds for dinner ever again.
*Your children will be exposed to food you've never served before.
I was involved with a group for about a year and it was probably the happiest time in my cooking life! I know there are groups out there who have stayed together for a decade or more, so it is possible. Our group fell apart because of differing cooking styles (we had one member who was very gourmet and delivered odd things that some children refused to eat, another family tended cook very cheaply and that bothered some -- so pay attention to those kinds of issues when putting your group together). Now with just one child at home, I don't feel the need, but when I had a houseful of children and a very busy after school schedule, it was a god-send.