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.
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.
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.
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 up...works well for us/
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.
(*Effect. Affect? Grammar nazi help plz :\.)
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?
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
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
Cleanup after dinner takes about 15 minutes.