This is the time of year when time may be in short supply.Â Between work, school shopping and that last grab at summer it can really make days short.Â So, how do you plan a non-fast food chain supper when the time you are making that decision is on the way home after a long day at work, with cranky, hungry, tired children you have just picked up school or daycare?
From this point on the suggestions are personal opinion, and some things that have worked for my large family over the years. Each family is different, but two things remain the same: you need a nutritious meal, and you need to get it fast. Time toÂ think outside the box.
The key to getting out of this situation quickly and without resorting to high calorie, processed foods (not good for your family’s health or your budget) is to Think and Know.
The “Think” part is the challenge – but take a deep breath and conquer one thing at a time. Remember your goal: to get in and out of the store with a good-for-the-family supper. Now is not the time to do the large grocery shopping. Now is the time to qualify for the express lane.
“Know” simply means to be familiar with your family’s tastes.Â What do your children like to eat? This is not the time to try something new and different. Time to speed shop: Ready – Set – Go! Break the store and your shopping down to the main areas, avoiding the trouble-making ones such as the snack isles.
- Produce area – Get enough salad in a bag for your size family – and watch – here is a place to save: many times at least one brand is on sale. Grab any other salad ingredientsÂ such as tomatoes, cucumbers or other raw veggies your family loves.Â Don’t forget fruits:Â some diced apple or a handful of berries, nuts or raisins can really dress up a salad, plus add lots of vitamins. NOTE: If you do not commonly have salads on your menu, plan be sure to get the needed salad dressings.
- Meat section – Look for the needed size pack ofÂ good quality pre-cooked chicken. There are a number of companies that make it and it is not loaded with added salt or chemicals. Now is also a good time for the deli section’s rotisserie chickens.
- Dairy Section – No good fast meats? Use cheeses for your protein boost. Many great cheeses come already shredded and ready to go.
- Bread and Bakery – Get a baguette, a bag of nice crusty rolls and a very small pack of cookies (or, if there isn’t a line, have your bakery person box you one cookie per person in your shopping party).Â Cookies, you scoff? Yes – extra calories – but I will explain.
- Check out and head for home. On the way home, each member in the shopping party gets to have their cookie. This is one time when breaking the cardinal rule of no snacks before supper is okay. The little sugar boast will get you through the time at home to prepare your salads and set up your meal.
- Heat the chicken and slice, cube or shred, depending on your family’s preference. Lay everything out on the kitchen counter or table, and let everyone assemble their own salad, topped with chicken and/or cheese.Â Complete this healthy, energy-boosting meal with a roll and glass of water or milk. Bon appetit!