Learn To Avoid The Dinner Time Crunch

It's 5:00 p.m. Do you know where your dinner is? Most moms would admit they don't and so begins the weekday kitchen "rush hour."

Use these tips to introduce fun and organized ways to eat as a family. With the following tips, time-management tricks and technology aids, easier meal preparation can help the whole family get a great dinner report card.

Breakfast For Dinner

A leisurely breakfast of omelets, pancakes and sausage is more often seen in the movies than at your busy breakfast table. Try these as a dinner dish when family has time to enjoy them.

Finger Foods

Make appetizer trays of fruit, vegetables, cheese and crackers, mini sandwiches, hot dogs on sticks-anything that can be tackled by hand...literally. Mimic your favorite family restaurant's best appetizers as a starting place.

Pasta Presto

Let your kids pick the pasta shape; you pick the sauce and, presto, you can check a weeknight off your list.

Some Assembly Required

Whether it's pizza, tacos or baked potatoes, set up a topping bar where family members can create their own version of each. Meal assembly franchises such as Dream Dinners give families the ability to prepare a month's worth of healthy meals in advance. Try this at home by setting up your own little assembly line by loading up ordinary plastic storage containers with all of the necessary ingredients. This way everyone can pitch in.

Soup & Sandwich

So many restaurants offer a soup and sandwich special-it's a hearty, healthy and wholesome combo. Brands such as Campbell's offer nutritious soups and recipes on the back of the can, making dinner a snap.

Sunday Expressway

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. Treat Sunday like the main event and make as many meals as you can in one afternoon to fulfill an entire week's menu. It may sound ambitious, but it's amazing how cooking when you're relaxed is a great deal more enjoyable than during the midst of a weekday "rush hour." Prepare two, three or even five meals in one afternoon in between watching the kids play in the backyard, reading the Sunday paper and cleaning the house.

Kids Cook

Place your kids' 10 favorite meal menus in a clearly marked folder and let them choose what to make. Making life even easier, the appliance you trust most for children to use-the microwave-has received an update to cook like an oven, only faster.

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About The Author, Wendy Mitchell
The Whirlpool GoldĀ® Velos™ oven has a no-brainer kid's menu with preprogrammed menu items such as chicken nuggets, pizza and hot dogs. Ask an appliance retailer to demonstrate the Velos™ or visit www.whirlpool.com.