How Long Does it Take Your Family?

Dinner in my house generally falls into four categories.

1. Take out/Eat out.
2. Huge Prep Meal, ie Thanksgiving Turkey or Easter Ham.
3. Medium Prep Meal, ie crock pot, slow cooker, sub-2 hour stovetop/oven time.
4. Leftovers/mishmash/soup and sandwiches.

In any given month, there is roughly:

#1 - 7 days out of 30
#2 - 2 days out of 30
#3 - 7 days out of 30
#4 - 14 days out of 30

However, depending on the meal, prep versus eating versus cleanup is always staggeringly unbalanced.

#1 - No prep really, outside of making sure Dad has his special utensils and cup, not much cleanup, and we can generally take as long as we want to eat.
#2 - 4+ hours prep and cooking. Less than 30 minutes, in most non-holiday cases, to eat. 30-60 minutes cleanup, including stripping the turkey and finding room in the fridges for all the containers.
#3 - 2-4 hours Prep and Cooking. Less than 30 minutes, usually, to eat. Up to 30 minutes cleaning time.
#4 - 10-30 minutes prep and cooking. Less than 15 minutes to eat. Less than 20 minutes to clean up.

Do you find your family has similar timetables when dealing with family meals?
Keep in mind, in my case, there are most times 5 adults to eat, 1-2 to prep, and 1-2 to clean up.

ROzbeans 16 years ago
Wow you really spent some time figuring that out. /hug We eat out more than we should and with me not working here soon, that'll cut down to maybe twice a month compared to twice a week =x Cooking only takes us about an hour to prep and sit down, clean up takes 10 mins max. Granted there are only 3 of us eating though.
Laschae 16 years ago
We've been eatting out alot more recently because I just hate looking at meat. If we don't eat out or get fast food Erik usually cooks unless he's going to be working late. Other than that I try to keep total cook/prep time to about 30-45 minutes. Lots of BLTs, sloppy joes, burgers and other easy things. Damn...I want a BLT
Verileah 16 years ago
We eat out for dinner maybe twice a month, do leftovers once a week, go over to family's house every other week, and host family or friends at our house every other week. Once or twice a week we'll do something that takes a couple hours or so, usually if we're hosting but sometimes just because. (I don't count time spent cooking in the oven because I use that time for other stuff.) Otherwise dinner normally takes an hour or under to make.

None of that takes lunches or breakfasts into account though. We go out to breakfast about twice a month and do lunch together once a week - so that's actually a lot of eating out. Once a week Fozz will make something nice for breakfast, but otherwise we're all on our own. The kid makes her own lunches and most of the time we all brown bag it, but maybe once a week I'll go out and buy something for lunch, and it's the same with Fozz.
Temprah 16 years ago
I can count the number of times per month we DON'T have take out / pizza / eat out for dinner on one hand. If I DO cook.. combined prep time must be under 1 hour, and it's usually a combo of something like hamburger helper and canned veggies or a premade meat entree nuked with a few tweaks (add wine, herbs etc) and canned veggies and possibly a bag of instant nuked rice.

I do like to cook, honestly COOK.. but I can't NOT go all out when I do and so I just dont have time or energy to spend 1-2 hours making a meal.
Den 16 years ago
We used to eat out about three times a week, but since my mom started on Jennie Craig, if I eat dinner at all I now eat out about five times a week.

In the 'old days', it would take anywhere from 30-60 minutes to cook dinner, 15-30 to eat, and another 10-20 to clean up. In our house one cooks, and the other cleans well for us/
Sarah 16 years ago
I make dinner every night for a family of four and most nights I'm in the kitchen by 5:00 and we're cleaning up by 6:00.

That isn't always the case, but I try for it. I firmly believe that my time is way better spent playing board games or watching a movie with my kids than making grand dinners and slaving through tons of clean up.

I love Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals cookbook and I make a bunch of stuff from it. It's really difficult to stay out of a easy dinner rut, and her book helps tremendously. It's also really hard to find stuff that everyone in my family will eat. My hubby has a meat and potatoes, bland kind of pallet and my youngest has strict dietary needs and is crazy picky on top of it. My oldest and my self are adventurous eaters and so I can try out new stuff on her and get honest feed back. =)

Woo! Way off topic!

But yeah it takes us an hour from start to finish, except on nights I make enchiladas and on Mondays when I use the crockpot because of gymnastics.
Verileah 16 years ago
I hear you, Sarah, with regard to how to best spend your time. We try to make cooking dinner a social activity when we can, though sometimes I just want to be left alone and cooking a nice dinner is a nice way to have that happen. Most of the time, though, we're all pitching in somehow - that might effect* my time estimates since one person might be cutting while the other is stirring while the other is setting the table. When I was a kid we were never that involved in the kitchen - it just sort of magically appeared shortly after mom magically disappeared. Since it's just the three of us, we tend to take more of an 'all in this together' approach but I can see that being way more stressful than just doing it yourself when there's more than one kid involved.

(*Effect. Affect? Grammar nazi help plz :\.)
Beli 16 years ago
God, most of my meals are stuff I can make quickly like spaghetti or tacos. Sometimes I go for easier ones like beans and rice (just boil water and pour in bag) or pasta/pesto (just boil water and pour in bag). There's a couple of frozen pizzas in the freezer for nights when I just can't do anything. I would like for us to order pizza less and less and am heading towards that. Problem is that I get exhausted with the baby and when I sit there like a zombie at the end of the day, my husband offers to bring home dinner and I know I should say no to fast food, but I don't have the energy to cook nor do I want him to attempt cooking (don't get me started on how he screws up stuff like ramen noodles) so I say OK.

Baby's getting older and adapting more and more to solids. We really need to get our meals together because it won't be long before he's joining us and I don't want him eating pizza or hamburgers all the time. I do record Rachel Ray's TV shows, but I start to watch them and go pfft. I know it's supposed to be 30 minutes, but she's got a REALLY well stocked kitchen. I don't have half of the stuff she's got lying around, are you kidding me?
Den 16 years ago
You will find though, when you do start stocking your kitchen better, cooking does become a LOT easier.

When my daughter was little and I cooked all the time, I made sure to keep staples stocked, and only shopped once a week for meats, and fresh vegetables. That way when I wanted to cook I could, and didn't change my mind because I needed something I didn't have. Of course I still had nights when I was dead tired, and cooked up my share of mac and cheese, or french toast :P
Laschae 16 years ago
I need to find some good cook books. Since we figured out Kami was allergic to tomatoes it's kind of thrown me for a loop what to make.
Sergon 16 years ago
I cook for me and the girl between 26-28 days a month and we eat out the rest. Im not big on eating out though. I have to do sushi once a month and mexican food once a month other than that I love a good seafood meal when Im visiting my dad in florida. In fact I could eat sushi or seafood of some sort every day if I could afford it.

DigitalKisses 16 years ago
I cook dinner every night for 3 people (husband, little girl and me) and it usually takes about 45 mins to an hour from prep to finish, my husband and I usually cook together, he cuts up what needs to be cut and i take care of the rest, that way we get ready fast and can have a good meal every night

I must say i love to cook so I don't mind doing it at all, if I make something special it's usually during the weekend when i have more time and then it can take about 2 hours to get things done, but that's always worth it
quiarrah 14 years ago
Well . . .my mom does the cooking as she lives with us. . we have a family of 4. It started out that way because it would take me so long to pick up our daughter on public transit that if I started dinner when I got home. .we wouldn't have eaten untl 7 or 8 pm on some occassions. So she just took the job over and I guess I have let her do it ever since. But, the dog gets in ion it now too. . if no one is in the kitchen at the time he thinks we should be. . .around 4:30 pm. . .he comes into the computer room and starts to nudge me! It takes about 30 minutes to an hour for cooking time depending on what we are haivng. We don't go out very often as we cant afford it. But hubby and I DO go out to breakfast every Friday. He doesn't have school that day so that is our time together.
Cleanup after dinner takes about 15 minutes.