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Ways to Simplify Suppertime

Simple Simplifying Series … Ways to Simplify Suppertime

I'm going to take a wild guess that you probably ate something today and that you'll probably eat something again later today and that you will probably ask or be asked the question 'what's for dinner?'Click To Tweet

Or supper … or whatever you call that end of the day meal.  Sometimes I call it pretzels and a tub of icing, but that’s a conversation for another day.

It’s a huge cause of stress in households all over the world.  It requires time and thought and energy and it seems endless … well … because it is.  We have to eat.  Every damn day.

But we also seem to make it harder on ourselves that it has to be.

My mother cooked pretty much every night.  She got home from work around 5:30, changed clothes and then spent at least an hour in the kitchen cooking what seemed like a very complicated meal.   We wouldn’t sit down to eat until at least 6:30 (or until our Dad finally came in from tinkering around outside).  So by the time we finished and cleaned up it was close to bath and bed time.  The evenings were pretty much spent on dinner, baths, and going to bed.

I vowed that things were going to be different when I had kids and they were in a lot of ways.  My husband cooked on the days he was home from work and we had sandwiches, corn dogs, or junk food nights on the days when he was gone …. and guess what …. ALL of my kids survived it.  Not a single one of them died from eating popcorn and chips for dinner a few nights a month.

Now keep in mind I was pretty much bat shit crazy during those years and wouldn’t do it that way now, but it does prove my point that kids (and most adults) are pretty resilient when it comes to food.  We fed them well rounded meals the vast majority of the time, but there were nights when I had to get all five of them to after school activities then back home to eat then baths and then in bed.  On those nights dinner was a sandwich or a frozen pizza (cooked of course) with a can of green beans or peas on the side.  Not perfect, but good enough.

Are you stressed out by the question, “what’s for dinner?”.  Are you making it harder than it has to be?

If so, here’s a few tips to make suppertime a little simpler.

Most dinners (suppers) just need three things

  1. a protein (pork chops, ground beef, chicken, beans, etc.)
  2. a carbohydrate (rice, a roll, a potato, pasta, etc.)
  3. a fruit or vegetable (low sodium canned or frozen peas, green beans, mixed veggies, apple slices, etc.)

That’s seriously it!  If the meal has those three things then that’s all you need.  In fact you can brainstorm meals for weeks just using that formula.

Spaghetti with meat sauce and green beans

Pork chops with baked potatoes and canned peas

Tacos with black beans

Grilled chicken with rice and mixed vegetables

Have a flexible meal plan for the week

Saying that you are for sure going to make tacos on Monday pretty much guarantees that one or more of your kids is going to get sick, forget something at school, or eat all of the ingredients for said tacos as a snack before you get home for work.  Yes, we’ve had that happen when our boys were teenagers.  Who the heck eats plain taco shells as a snack?  My kids evidently.

Write out a list of 5 or 6 meals, make sure you have everything you need for ALL of those meals on Sunday afternoon, then cross off the meals as you make them.  Be sure to include a few simple meals like frozen pizza, sandwiches, or salads for nights when life is just too crazy for something more complicated.

Do prep work on the weekends

Several pounds of hamburger meat can be cooked all at once on a Sunday afternoon.  Put the cooked, rinsed meat in a zipper top bag in the refrigerator and use it throughout the week for tacos, spaghetti, egg noodles with brown gravy meat sauce, etc.

Chicken breasts can be grilled on the weekends and used throughout the week for grilled chicken salad, chicken enchiladas, chicken taco soup, chicken alfredo, etc.

Take an inventory of what you already have

Use my Use What You Have method to figure out what ingredients you already have and base meals around those until you use up the cans, boxes, and bags you’ve got stashed.


Life is complicated enough without us making the basic idea of eating even more so.  Give yourself a break and take back suppertime.  I guarantee you that the world is NOT going to fall apart if you don’t make a 5 course meal every night.

Here are a few super simple meal ideas


Chicken Nachos

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