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Do you wake up in the morning and think, “Ugh. What am I going to make for dinner tonight?”

Planning and preparing meals is a chore, and for some, it can be the most dreaded chore of the day. Spending hours making an elaborate meal only to have your kids turn their noses up at it is frustrating, to say the least.

Dinnertime doesn’t have to be something to dread every day. Here are a few tips on how to keep your family meals healthy, easy and fast.

  1. Designate an “easy” night: What’s your busiest night? You know, that night you always end up going through a drive through. Instead of a sack of greasy fast food, make this night spaghetti night or taco night—anything that is simple to prepare that everyone loves.
  2. Give yourself one night off. If you’ve been cooking all week, when Friday or Saturday rolls around, you’re probably ready for a break. Instead of resorting to the usual pepperoni pie from your local pizzeria, pick up some fresh sub sandwiches or introduce your kids to beef and broccoli from the local Chinese take-out place. You can still have pizza, just keep it to once a month instead of once a week.
  3. Assign your partner one night a week. In our house, my husband cooks on Sunday nights. He has no parameters and is free to make whatever his heart desires. It usually involves the grill, but I don’t care. As long as I don’t have to make it, I’m happy!
  4. Focus on making kid-favorites healthy. Take a kid-friendly meal like sloppy joes and make it healthier. Use ground turkey and serve the sandwiches with a side of homemade sweet potato fries and broccoli. And don’t forget to use whole-wheat buns! Your kids will be eating good, wholesome food they love!
  5. Try something new one night a week. Peruse your favorite cooking sites and magazines for new recipes that appeal to your family. Pick one night a week to try out the new recipe. It will renew your interest in cooking and make it fun again. Plus, your kids will be exposed to something new, which is always a good thing.
  6. Embrace leftovers: We usually have leftovers at least once a week. If I make a big casserole, I always save some for another night. Add fresh veggies or a fruit salad and you have a super-easy meal!