If you're like many busy moms with even busier kids, getting a made-fresh dinner on the table night after night becomes just one more chore on a long list of unpleasant tasks.
Kelly Donlea has been there, done that.
When she first got married, dinner every night with her husband was an event. She shopped for fresh ingredients every day for one of her special creations served with a glass of wine. Then along came baby. Strapping Sidney in the car and heading to the store every day became impossible, she says.
That impossibility set Donlea on a mission to figure out a way to help all moms and dads have dinner success without all the stress. For two years she quizzed play groups and just about anyone else she encountered about how to get dinner on the table. She heard lots of tips about using convenience foods out of a box and found cookbooks filled with recipes that required a lot of ingredients she didn't necessarily have-or want-on hand.
Video by Liz Hoffman
She wanted fresh ingredients. She wanted easy. She didn't want to go to the store more than once a week.
Out of that research came her self-published book, 70 meals, One trip to the store, filled with enough go-to, easy recipes she says can help every mom win with dinner.
"Approach dinner on the offensive, not the defensive," says Donlea, 39, of Barrington, mom to Sidney, now 9, Brian, 7, and Elise, 2. "It's going to come up every night. Being prepared for it, not with a meal plan, but with strategies for success, is a relief. It saves you time from running to the store, it saves you money and from all the ingredient clutter."
That message is catching on. Her company, Organizing Dinner, has
now grown to include in-home sessions and cooking classes with
recipes that favor fresh over processed with enough flexibility to
make them work for your family. Because her phone still rings
nightly from parents with a dinner emergency, she recently launched
a Dinner 911 forum on her Web site, www.
organizingdinner.com, to help with the "How do I do this?" and "What if I don't have this on hand?" emergency questions.
"By approaching (dinner) differently, ... you are going to be more at peace with the dinner process," she says.
Tamara is the editor of Chicago Parent and mom of three.
See more of Tamara's stories here.