Sports season – I’m not actually sure that it’s just a season. I think it’s the norm. It seems we’re always juggling things for soccer or volley ball. I know many of you are in the trenches too with various sports. It’s fun, and there are a lot of benefits for our kids, but there are trade offs too.
Family dinner is often the big loser during sports season. It gets trampled under a schedule that has enough cleats to punch holes in the best laid dinner plans.
How to handle it? Here are my top tips to keep the family eating together (at least most of the time) and avoid the drive-thru.
1. Make a plan for the off nights
Be very intentional about planning meals together when you can get everyone gathered around the table. And if having everyone there seems impossible (and with various teen schedules, it really is nearly impossible) go for as many family members as you can.
The way this works in our family is that if I’m home around dinner time, I will make dinner. There may be two of us at the table or five of us. Sometimes the kids bring a friend too. I tend to cook for 6-8 people, no matter how many will be eating that night. Leftovers get eaten up for lunches and late night boy snacks over the next couple of days.
We also aim to have at least one meal a week with all of us – and that includes our daughter and her husband. This one takes some planning for all of us, but it’s so worth it.
Dinner gets harder on nights when I’m out to drive a child to a game or practice. But there are strategies for that too:
2. Use a slow cooker
If you’ll be home at a reasonable time to eat dinner, grab the slow cooker and fill it up early in the day. Here’s a list I wrote a few years ago that categorizes slow cooker recipes for 5-10 minute prep, cook all day, and minimal sides required.
The key is to choose a recipe that works for your day. If you’re looking for a big list of slow cooker recipes that can cook all day, check out this one.
And since that list is old, I think I need to do an update post for each of those categories with even more recipes.
3. 15 Minute Meal
If you’ll be home in time to eat, plus have 15 minutes to spare ahead of time, try a 15 minute recipe. You really can get dinner on the table in just 15 minutes. Here’s a list of 15 minute recipes. Scroll down on the page to find the recipe links.
4. Pack it
There’s no shame in eating on the sidelines or in your car. I have a reputation on our kids’ soccer teams of showing up for games with a picnic. It’s never fancy, but I never regret packing it either. What I do regret is a run through the fast food place when I haven’t taken the time to pack a meal. That’s expensive, doesn’t taste great, and not good for us either.
This week we had three soccer games. I made packable food for all three, although two were so early we didn’t really need to do it. No worries though. Having a meal all done like that, meant that other family members at home were able to eat as well.
Here’s what we had this week:
- Egg salad sandwiches (made with Greek yogurt), carrots and celery sticks
- Pasta Salad with grilled chicken
- Hummus Wraps, Green Bean and Tomato Salad (recipe coming soon)
Here’s a post with a few tips and ideas for packable meals that aren’t sandwiches.
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