I recently took on a new hobby: running. I trained with a local group and partnered up with a mother of two. By late February my usually prompt cohort was seen pulling into training sessions last minute. She was a teacher that commuted across town, her husband commuted from their home in Northeast Baltimore County to just outside DC, and both her boys had just enrolled in lacrosse. Juggling schedules was enough; the planning she did to get healthy food on the table each night was a coups: on Tuesdays she was planning her Saturday morning shopping and her Sunday evening mass cooking for the better part of the week. This really gave me an appreciation for what many parents (and a lot of of our customers) go through to bring their families together for a sound dinner during sports season.
I did some internet searches on the the topic and I came across blogger Kathy Yevchak who recently posted on this same topic with an anecdote about getting help from your kids at dinner time – even when you could do it quicker yourself. Seeing as I work for a very family-friendly food company, I thought this was definitely worth a read.
I also reached out to Elizabeth Marcotte, mother of two teenagers and one of Let’s Dish’s co-owners. Here are some helpful suggestions from her:
I have finally figured out how to navigate spring sports chaos! First off, I look at the game schedule for the upcoming week on Sunday morning. Then I think about the each night as one of three categories: Â (1) nights I need to have dinner ready early before sports, (2) nights it needs to be ready quickly to feed post game starving kids and (3) nights the family has to eat at different times because everyone is on a different schedule. I plan the whole week out in advance. Here’s my approach:
Nights when kids eat early – On these nights I make something that goes in the oven or on the grill. These dinners typically take longer to cook and I generally cook dinner around 4 PM. I’d rather give the kids a solid protein dinner early then have them carb-load on snacks before they play. They don’t eat a lot before sports but a chicken breast or piece of fish after a day at school and before a game provides enough protein so they can go the distance. Sometimes when they return home later they will have a second lighter round consisting of fruit, yogurt, or cereal.
On nights when the kids have games before dinner, when they get home they are starving and need to eat right away. I make something that cooks quickly in a skillet or on the grill. The minute I walk in the door I pull out some carrots, cherry tomatoes, fresh green beans, and/or cheese and put them on the counter so they can munch on something to take the edge off. Right away I put something in a skillet or on the grill. Favorite options are the Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken, Chicken and Asparagus Risotto, Bacon Cheddar Sliders (done on the grill) or Greek Burgers. While those are cooking I empty a bag of lettuce into a big bowl, add some tomatoes and cucumbers to have a quick and easy salad. Sometimes when the skillet or grill dish is almost done, we sit down to a first course of salad.
On nights when everyone is off in a different direction, we use the slow cooker. Some of our favorites are Letâ€™s Dish’s Southern Pulled Pork and Whiskey Beef over Noodles. It’s great; dinner is hot and ready to be served at any point throughout the evening.
One last tip: cold salads are awesome for on-the-go nights! Let’s Dish’s Thai Style Shrimp and Noodles is a perfect dish to make one day ahead and bring to the game the next day in small containers. Better yet, bring it in one big container with some extra plates and forks and everyone on the bleachers will be your new best friends.
Thanks for sharing these helpful tips, Elizabeth!
So, dishers and DishBlog readers, what works for you? We would love to hear your stories, tips, and strategies for surviving the chaos that is sports season.