Most families today are familiar with full schedules and busy weeknights.  The desire to have dinners together and home cooked meals is strong, but changing habits, developing a routine for this, and knowing how to execute a plan can seem like a lot.  This episode of The Intentional Edit Podcast is full of ideas and strategies that you can follow to make planning meals, cooking dinner and eating together attainable.




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Episode 87 - Simplify Dinnertime & Eat Together More - How to Have Dinners as a Family on Busy Weeknights and More




Full Episode Transcription (not edited):

Most families are familiar with full schedules and busy weeknights. The desire to have dinners together and home cooked meals is strong, but changing habits, developing a routine for this and knowing how to execute a plan can seem like a lot. This day episode of the intentional edit podcast is full of ideas and strategies that you can follow to make planning, meals, cooking, dinner, and eating together attainable. Hey moms, welcome to the intentional edit podcast. Do you wanna stop feeling overwhelmed and finally get your home organized. Do you find yourself up late at night, worrying about how you are going to get everything done and not drop the ball? You are wondering where to start and what to do. There is never enough time in the day. The piles of laundry are building up and it’s already time for after school activities, homework, snacks, and carpool.


Oh, again, I’m Lauren. I too want an organized, clean home where my family can make long lasting memories and be present in the moment feeling like there’s never enough time to complete all the daily tasks is exhausting. So simplicity all around a healthy meal on the table at dinnertime and a family that contributes to the chores really is attainable. Stop telling yourself that you have to do it all or it will never get done. Or that picky eaters will never allow for a complaint free dinner. In this podcast, you will learn exactly how to declutter implement systems and maximize routines that remove the overwhelming unorganized parts of life. Bringing simplicity to your life and home. Come on. It’s time to create a life you love.


Here we are. It’s hard to believe I am recording episode 87 and we’re already towards the end of September. I have been hearing a lot of struggles around dinner time, not only what to make for dinner, but how to get our families to have dinner together and how to get any routine around the dinner hour, eating together at the table, having a home cooked meal and getting back into this kind of a routine and rhythm in our lives. And maybe it’s not getting back to that for you. Maybe it’s just something that you want to do. The desire is there. And I’m hearing a lot of conversation about this. We are busy. People are busy. Sports are back in session. School is back in session. People are going back to the office. We’re running in a lot of directions and we see and feel the pull and the struggle of time, how to use our time, what to do in every single area of our lives.


And then when this happens, we feel the need so much more to simplify the clutter in our homes, the million things on our calendars, the busy schedules, they all pull at us and add to our stress. There are a lot of things that we can do to feel better, and they all start with some kind of simplicity, whether it is to declutter our homes, to get things organized, to manage our schedules better, to have better routines and systems in place and to get in a good rhythm for the season of life that we are currently in, everyone can improve upon some of those things. And I think I am hearing this conversation around the dinner time, hour, and eating together and busy weeknights and how to manage the busy weeknights with my friends, with people I interact with like my neighbors. I see the stress on their faces when they are trying to juggle it all and manage it all.


And it’s hard. So I hear you when you’re saying that, and you don’t know what to do. I’ve had a few conversations and they go like this. What can families do to have a consistent dinner time, hour together? And I don’t mean a hour like 60 minutes, just a time of the day. It might be 15 minutes, but how can you get more time together to connect and to be intentional with your evenings? Because so many people are saying that there is not any structure around dinner. Sometimes it’s food picked up. Sometimes it’s some of the family eating in one restaurant, picking up food for one, bringing something home to another, having snacks, having leftovers, whatever you can do to manage and simplify. You want dinner to be a priority. Your desire is to have this sit down time with your family as often as possible.


But how do you even go about that? Where do the meals come from? Who’s preparing the meals, who’s cooking the dinners. What recipes are you using? That’s all a real question. And then how do we fit this into busy schedules? When our schedules are already jam packed? The answer to that is you have to do a schedule assessment. You have to audit your schedule. And if you need help with that schedule of coaching call with me, I will help you audit your schedule. We can do a schedule audit together and find the gaps in your day where you can plug things in that are important to you, that you’re wanting to do. Even if that is not relating to dinner time or preparing and planning meals, whatever your focus is, we can find gaps in your day and be intentional with what you are doing and create systems.


And I can guide you in what systems you need to simplify the daily task, the daily chores, the things that have to be done so you can create more margin in your day. So if you are struggling with that and how to manage your schedule, click on the link in the show, description book, a coaching session with me, it’s super affordable. We can talk for a half hour and get so much out of that. You will be grateful. And it is the beginning of your journey to simplicity. What if you, you have your schedule under control or you feel like you have it under control, but the busy evening is where you’re really struggling. And you hear this episode and you relate to all of these other moms and families that are struggling with what is happening in these evening hours. Or maybe you have really young kids and that, and you’ve heard the term, the witching hour, the they’re just out of control.


It feels like in the evening, or you have older kids that are going in different directions and socializing with their friends, commitments, activities, sports, all of these things. This is what life is. So take the moments when everyone is together or when a portion of the family is together, everyone has to eat in the evening, take those times and make family dinner a priority. What happens when we eat together connection, we spend time together. So we build connection. We laugh, we enhance our relationships. One huge bonus is we tend to eat healthier, more nutritious food dinner together gives us those things busy nights because of all of these things that I’ve listed and, and really many more things. If you are commuting a long distance, if your kids participate in a sport, a town over that takes you away from the home dinner, doesn’t have to mean 45 minutes at a table with a home cooked three course meal.


We are past that dinner means something different for every single family. And you get to choose what that looks like for your family. But if you’re feeling a struggle around that, and you’re feeling a pull to do something more intentional and make it better, I want you to go listen to episode 85. I recorded it with Jennifer, from the families that stick together podcast. And she gives us so much good information there on making dinner time more intentional. That might mean eight o’clock at night. If that’s when you can eat or some days it might be 4:00 PM because that’s the 15 minutes everyone is together. Sometimes it’s with one child. Sometimes it’s with all the kids. Sometimes, maybe no one’s available. And it’s just you and your spouse that is going to change based on the ages of your kids, the stages of life that you are in.


And they are in and the activities and the extracurricular things that we are involved in. And the commitments that we make that take up time in our lives and are a place in our schedule. These things change. The schedule you have today is not the exact same schedule. You will have six months from now, and it’s definitely not the exact same schedule that you will have three years from now. So this is temporary and create what works for your family. In this moment. In this season of life, you hear me say that a lot. You have to make it work for your family. Some nights a week, start with a realistic goal for what you can manage for these dinners together. And please make simple dinners, simple recipes, those nights, very few ingredients make this easy so that it is doable. And it is something that you can conquer and achieve and let your family know ahead of time that things are changing.


You are going to make this a fun experience for them, make this something that they want to do. How do you do that? You eat dinner together, and then maybe it’s a game after dinner is done. You play a game together. They gimme a quick game of cards. You can have a fun dessert. Occasionally, maybe it’s a night off of chores for your family or extend bedtime by 15 minutes, whatever is something that your kids and your family would find fun. That’s what you’re going to do as almost like a little reward. You are intentionally creating a new habit, do some enticing things in the beginning and make it something everyone looks forward to. Then this just becomes a habit. It becomes the routine thing. It becomes the normal part of the day. When dinner is ready and your kids might be at an age where they can be involved in preparing dinner.


When I say these things, I don’t mean that seven days a week, that child is involved in preparing dinner. I mean, the night that that child is available, they might be involved in helping you prepare dinner. You let them pick it out. You make this a fun experience. You’re teaching them life skills in this. There’s a lot more involved in the quality and what the outcomes are. The positive outcome is when we have dinners together as a family, then what you are probably thinking. You’ve probably heard it’s important to sit down together. It’s important to have dinner together, but why there are so many things and so many benefits. And that’s why one of the reasons I want you to go listen to episode 85 and definitely check out her podcast as well, because she has a lot of good, intentional tools that you can use to have intentional time with your family.


What about the logistics of doing all of this? The logistics that I’m talking about are planning the meals, doing the shopping, figuring out what nights this will actually work. I can tell you I was in a similar place as you years ago. And thankfully I figured this out. So the dinner time is not a struggle for me anymore because I came up with a simple solution that has been working for our family. But before that I was right where you are. I was in a situation where I was thinking, how do I come up with these recipes? What should we be having for dinner? I should have a nice meal on the table for my family. Like I should be able to do all of these things. And I found the answer and it was creating a reusable meal plan. And it truly changed my life.


If you do this, it will change your life. When it comes to dinner meals and grocery shopping and time spent planning and you will stop wasting food and you will stop running out of everything because you have a plan in place that is simple. And I created a program that actually teaches exactly what I did because I was so frustrated when I was in that place that you are, I was spending time searching for new recipes, going on, Pinterest, doing Google searches and trying to figure out what recipes my family should like. And I felt like the term meal planning meant that every week I was coming up with this new meal plan and new recipes, and I was trying to make these elaborate dinners, but I felt so frustrated because I didn’t have time to pull it off. I couldn’t do it successfully. I wanted to go back to those tried and true meals that I knew that my family liked.


I knew how to make, I was comfortable cooking them. And I would have this frustration. I wasn’t able to pull it off. And then it was like a snowball effect because then I would be even more annoyed. And the whole meal painting process would take even longer. And it was like rush to eat dinner on the nights that were home together. You know, those cute little chalkboards with the days of the week on them. And you put them on display in your kitchen. You’re supposed to just quickly. Or I felt like you were supposed to just quickly know what meal you’re making, know what recipe you’re making and fill that in and then go to the grocery store and buy all those ingredients. But that’s not how that works. Those cute chalkboards are just that. They’re cute, but they’re not solving any problems. They’re not making meal planning, easier having a few things on a chalkboard that I wrote down.


Doesn’t save me any time. Now I have to make the grocery list. Now I have to look up all the recipes. Now I have to figure all of that out every single week. Do the grocery shopping, prepare the food, all of that stuff. How could I save time in this? Where are the recipes coming from? How long would they take to cook? How long would each meal take to cook? What was the preparation to look like? Was anyone even gonna be home that night and to eat the food or to prepare the meal or to turn the oven on? I knew that there had to be a better way. So I was in the same place that you are in right now, when you are struggling with this, I wanted to make sure I was feeding my family the most nutritious options and the best meals that I possibly could, and that we could have time where we would actually sit together at the table.


Most nights for whoever was home. I wanted to do this on a consistent basis and have this be the norm for my family. But I also didn’t want to be constantly running to the grocery store for fresh ingredients or finding time to come up with these new recipes or experimenting in the kitchen to figure out what they would like, because I really did feel like it needed to be different meals every week. And that is that’s not attainable and that that’s just not true. People like consistency. So, you know, I love simplicity. And through that struggle, I found the solution for this dinnertime struggle. I came up with a way to create a reusable meal plan and a reusable grocery list so that I could use it over and over and over and over again. I literally don’t have to think about what is for dinner.


I don’t have to open an app on my phone to search for a new recipe. I don’t have to figure out my grocery order or make a grocery list every week. I don’t have to do big shopping trips all the time or constantly run in because there’s one thing I’m missing for that one recipe I wanted to make. I don’t do any of that anymore because I created something that is reusable and it works. And it has worked for over eight years. That is how long I have been doing this when I was trying to figure out how could I save time? How do I really create this whole easy meal planning thing? I didn’t realize that by creating this and doing this, it would pretty much eliminate any food from expiring in my home from wasting any food, even from running out of things that we normally eat.


And one huge benefit is also that it saves you money because you’re not grocery shopping as often. And you’re being intentional with your grocery list. Like I said, I’ve been using this meal planning system for over eight years. I’ve also taught it to clients, to friends, to family. I have shared this over and over again. I’ve been in mastermind groups and I’ve had this available in bundles for people that want to simplify life and make life easier. And the feedback I get all the time is positive feedback over and over and over again. The process in creating the meal plan is the same for every single family. But like I tell you with purging and decluttering and organizing, and every single thing that you do when you create a system for your family, when you’re trying to implement new habits and routines, the process might be the same to get us there.


But every system, every routine, every meal plan will be slightly different because you will use your own recipes. In this situation, you customize these things. The number of nights, you’re cooking dinner at home and eating together as a family will vary depending on the season of life you are in right now. And what makes sense for you in this stage of life. That’s all we care about. That is what we are trying to simplify. If you do this follow along, you will have a custom two week reusable meal plan and a corresponding grocery list in a very short amount of time. These are easy to create once, you know, the system that I use, it makes life so much easier for me. It has completely eliminated the dinnertime struggle because I have my list of recipes. I know what I’m going to make. I have my grocery list.


I do my shopping one a time for two weeks and we are good to go. I have my list. I look at what I want to make in the evening and get out anything that needs to be thought ahead of time. And I am ready to make dinner that night and we are ready to eat. If this sounds like something that you are interested in, click the link in the podcast description or head to intentional And there is a courses tab at the top of the page. You can just click on that and you will see the meal planning course. It’s called master meal planning with intentional edit. It’s a minicourse. So it does not take you a lot of time to get through it. I have eliminated all the fluff. It gets right to the point. There’s examples in there. I have links to recipes.


It is a way to simplify this struggle. I love that this problem is coming up, that people are having these questions around the dinner time that families are feeling like they are being pulled in many directions. I don’t love that, but that they are identify that they want something better. They want dinner time together to be a priority. And they want to be intentional about creating these dinner routines for their families, because I see where these moms and these families want to be intentional and make changes to simplify their life, to make the changes in the most simple ways possible to improve their family relationships, to have better communication, to have time together, to show their family that they’re important to laugh together, to play games. I love this being intentional with the decisions we make and making decisions aligned with our priorities for our families allows us to truly simplify so that we can spend time with the people that we want to be spending time with the people that are most important to us and do things that we like to do.


There are numerous benefits to simplicity all around numerous benefits to meal planning that will strengthen your family and even improve your health. When you are choosing to make nutritious meals as part of the recipes that you are cooking. If you wanna simplify dinner time and streamline meal planning meal, prep, grocery shopping, save time, save money. All of this, go to intentional,, check out the meal, planning course, sign up for it. I walk you through step by step. Exactly what you have to do. You can start solving some of these problems, bring peace into the dinner hour of your home grocery shop, less save time, save money, have time with your family and be eating together more often than you are right now. And definitely go check out episode 85 and check out the families that stick together podcasts. Cuz if you are wanting more connection with your family, she has a lot of great information over there.


Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the intentional edit podcast. If you are wanting to do a schedule audit with me or need help with your systems, routines, any of that, and you wanna book a coaching session, you can do that by clicking the link in the podcast description, we can get a coaching session. I do have some available the next few weeks. I would love to work with you and help you simplify and figure out what areas of your life to start home organization, where you should be decluttering, what you should focus on, where you can find the margin in your schedule to do things that are important to you. If this is something that you have been wanting to do, there is availability in my schedule for the next two to three weeks. Grab some of those because when they are available, they do go fast. This is the first time I am talking about this and letting you know that I have added dates in there. So once this podcast is out, those will fill up pretty quickly. I will meet you back here next week for the next episode of the intentional edit podcast.


Thank you for listening to the intentional edit podcast. If you found today’s episode valuable, tell your friends about it by taking a screenshot, sharing it on social and tagging me at intentional edit. I’ll be back soon with another episode in the meantime, find and be sure to follow intentional edit on social platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook to ensure you catch future episodes, click the subscribe or follow button. Now I am grateful for a five star rating and review from you. Be sure to let me know what you liked about this episode and what you want me to cover in the future.



Episode 87 - Simplify Dinnertime & Eat Together More - How to Have Dinners as a Family on Busy Weeknights and More



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lauren - intentional edit

Lauren is the founder of Intentional Edit, a home organization and lifestyle company focused on consciously editing to create efficient and organized spaces.  Lauren believes that a functional home that looks and feels good has a positive influence on all aspects of life.  Creating systems that allow for the home to function more efficiently, therefore, eliminating most of the clutter and chaos is her priority.  While trends come and go organization is always in style!


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