The #1 kitchen tool I think every mom needs is a slow cooker. If you want to bring sanity back to your home and dinner time, then pull out that wedding gift you got years ago or head to your local store and purchase one. It will save you time and money. Next, search online for some great, easy slow cooker recipes that you can use on busy crazy days. It has given me peace of mind when I’m out in the afternoon wearing the Taxi Driver hat knowing back at home our dinner is cooking and will be ready to serve when we walk in the door.
Laurie, from “I’m an Organizing Junkie”, shares her thought on slow cookers, some great recipes, and a slow cooker cookbook giveaway. Then, be inspired with Sheila’s Dinner Time Thoughts. And, don’t forget to grab your party favor and enter a 2nd giveaway from Menu In a Box.
Make friends with your slow cooker
by: Laura (orgjunkie)
Slow cookers are an excellent tool for helping you get dinner on the table without a lot of time or energy. We all know the 5:00 dinner rush is chaotic and tiring. Putting dinner together earlier in the day allows you to walk away and forget about it. When it’s time for dinner, it’s ready and waiting for you. Most of the recipes my family enjoys don’t require many ingredients and only take about 10 minutes to prepare.
Many people shy away from their slow cookers because they’ve had bad experiences with them in the past. More often than not it’s usually because the meat has been overcooked which is very easy to do and it really does taste awful when it happens. Newer crockpots do cook much faster so a good rule of thumb is to always go with the lower time listed in the recipe and to make sure your crockpot is at least 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full. It does take a little experimentation when you first get going but it’s nothing to be afraid of and when you do finally get it right (and you will) it’s a wonderful warm fulfilling treat at the end of a long day.
So what do you say? Is it time to dust off your slow cooker? Maybe today’s giveaway will inspire you!
Giveaway: Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Slow Cooker softcover cookbook ~ includes 158 mouth water recipes.
Laura’s blog is called “I’m an Organizing Junkie” where she blogs about her crazy addiction to organizing. She is also passionate about menu planning and hosts a popular carnival each week called Menu Plan Monday. Join her as she chronicles the life of an organizing junkie and attempts to get others “hooked” along with her.
By: Sheila Wray Gregoire
Do you remember family dinners from your childhood? They were often formal affairs, even if it was only meatloaf on the menu. We had to ask to have things passed. We had to ask to be excused. Today we have to yell and cajole to even get people to the table in the first place. As a culture, we’ve made dinner a far more casual affair than it once was.
Families used to eat dinner together; and not just once or twice a week, but all the time. Today we eat McDonald’s drive through on our way to errands, if we’re lucky. One recent study from the University of Minnesota found that most families eat together only three times a week, and those meals take far less time than they did even twenty years ago. We sit down, we inhale, we get up.
Eating Dinner as a Family Is Good for Everyone
That’s too bad, because studies also show that eating together has incredible benefits. Teens who eat dinner with their families at least five times a week are less likely to do drugs or be depressed, and are more likely to do well in school. And kids who never eat with their parents are 60% more likely to smoke or drink. It only makes sense; dinner is one of those few opportunities to all be together and actually talk. At other times, we’re running in different directions. Dinner is a time to catch up, to talk about what we’re worried about and what we’re happy about, and just to connect. And the more we connect, the more likely we are to have good relationships with our kids. Besides that, if we have dinner together, we’re more likely to spend time together after dinner. We may pull out the Monopoly game, do a puzzle, or read a book.
Unfortunately, with shift work becoming more and more common, making time to eat together is difficult. On the nights when my husband is working I find it hard to get excited about cooking a meal. After all, chances are my kids won’t like it anyway, and why cook just for me? Dinner, instead of becoming a family tradition where we all meet at the table, becomes haphazard, depending on who is where on any given night.
Make Dinner Into an Occasion
Traditions seem old-fashioned, but this is one we should fight to preserve. We need that time altogether. If your spouse isn’t there, you can still try to make the effort to sit down with your kids, even if it’s just around a bowl of Corn Flakes and some scrambled eggs. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to make dinners more important family occasions. We’ve now started to bring out the good dishes even for regular meals. My kids love drinking their orange juice out of wine glasses, and it seems to inspire them to concentrate more on manners. We’ve even begun to light candles which, aside from delighting my children, has the fortunate side effect that they render the “yucky green stuff” Mommy puts on food-in other words, the parsley-a little more invisible.
Prioritize Dinner Time and Family Will Follow
We always say that we want to prioritize family, but unless we make the effort to eat together, our dreams will never be realized. Our kids will spend their lives on video games, or playing with friends, and we won’t naturally connect. So take some time Sunday nights, before the week begins, to figure out what you’re going to make this week. Plan your meals so that you know what you need at the grocery store and won’t be running out all frazzled some night at 5:30 because you don’t have spaghetti after all. Put a little forethought into dinner, and your stress level will go down as you spend more time with your family. Dinner is the perfect time to build a family. Prioritize it, and your family will thrive!
Do you need help with menu planning and time management? Get your FREE household organization charts, including kids’ chore charts, household planners, and more!
Sheila Wray Gregoire is the author of four books, including To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother. She blogs at http://tolovehonorandvacuum.blogspot.com
Time to open another GIFT
Menu In A Box 100 Day Meal Planning Kit is a downloadable meal planning e-book. It includes delicious, fast, fresh and friendly recipes along with corresponding shopping lists and meal plans, plus great time saving budget and organizational tips.
You will get organized with -:
- 20 Weeks of Dinners
- 20 Shopping Lists included
- How to organize your pantry
- How to organize your freezer
- 100 easy to follow family favorite friendly fast and fresh recipes!
- Plus a fuss free Kids Birthday Party Menu and more
- 5 Day Meal Planner
Menu In A Box 100 Day Meal Planning and 24/7 MOMS are giving away one Menu In A Box 100 Day Meal Planning e-book . To enter for your chance to win one, enter your name and email address in the box below you will be signed up for today’s giveaway as well as be added to the 24/7 MOMS E-list(if you are not already a 24/7 MOMS subscriber). Drawing to be held on February 1, 2009
Stop by tomorrow for “Control It” here at the “Organize It” Party.