Written by Corinne Garcia Tuesday, November 15 2011For virtually all working women, what you accomplish during a day at the office is just a fraction of your daily work load. Before work, if you have kids, it’s generally a great rush to get yourself ready and them out the door, lunch in hand. And after work, many of you can be found standing in the light of an open fridge door, staring blankly at a variety of food containers, and having that age-old thought: What should you make for dinner?
The family dinner was the ultimate family tradition in the United States until the1970s and ’80s, when women’s role in the work force was on a consistent rise. According to a report, “A Century of Change in America’s Eating Patterns,” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, by the late ’90s the family meal was on its way out, with 47 percent of food dollars spent on food eaten away from home.
Today, according to this report, the importance of a family meal has resurfaced, considered by many as the glue that can hold families together through opening lines of communication and placing importance on spending quality time together. For many families dinnertime is the only time of day you actually have a chance to spend together. Today, there is also increased importance placed on nutrition and health; people are becoming more drawn to the healthy fare at farmers’ markets rather than the many processed food choices found at supermarkets and fast food joints.
And today, even though more women are in the work force than ever, women still do most of the cooking. Women are responsible for the family meal and want it to be healthy and appeal to all members of the family. No easy task.
But with the right amount of time invested in planning and a little shift in attitude, according to cookbook author Aviva Goldfarb, you can simplify dinnertime and even make it more fun. As a busy mother and the founder and CEO of The Six O’Clock Scramble, she has written cookbooks based on the after-work dinner frenzy and started a web-based meal planning service for busy home cooks.
Here are some tips from Golfarb on how to save time during the dinner rush hour:
- Cut the right corners. “Don’t feel like you have to be perfect,” Goldfarb says. “If you need to use some short-cut products, there’s a trade off between time and money.” She recommends things like chopped garlic in a jar, spice blends (with no salt), salsa, and grated Parmesan, among other things. And her favorite time-cutting kitchen tools include an immersion blender, a citrus squeezer, and a garlic press.
- Try a meal subscription service. If you want to outsource your meal planning, a subscription service like Goldfarb’s Six O’Clock Scramble can be the perfect solution. For as little as $5 per month, you get five easy, healthy meals and side dishes laid out for you, and a shopping list to boot. She has more than 7,000 subscribers, and she claims that the meal plans can save people $75 to $100 per month due to good planning and less dining out.
Corinne Garcia is a freelance writer and editor living with her husband and two young boys in Bozeman, Mont. She has also written for Women’s Adventure, Christian Science Monitor, Northwest Travel, Pregnancy, Fit Pregnancy, and Fit Parent.