Guest Gurus Michelle & Susan from

With conflicting work and school schedules, sports and other activities, sometimes the hardest thing about preparing a family meal is getting everyone to the table to eat it together. We believe the effort is worth it, and two years ago founded the website to help revive the lost art of dining together.

As busy moms, we understand how hectic dinnertime can be if you are unprepared. Our aim is to help people spend less time in the kitchen and more time with their family. Eating together at home helps families slow down and connect, helps kids develop manners and language skills, and allows families to eat more healthily. A 2005 survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that that teens who only eat dinner with their families twice a week or less are three times as likely to try marijuana, 2.5 times more likely to smoke cigarettes and 1.5 times as likely to try alcohol compared to teens who eat five or more family dinners a week.

You don’t need to be a gourmet cook to make a healthy meal your whole family can enjoy together. With just a little thoughtful planning, a tasty and nutritious meal is waiting for your family tonight.

Here are some tips that can help you manage the hectic dinner hour.

1. Make a “Dinner Game Plan” –

The biggest challenge is planning your meals and getting the food in the fridge. Once you have your plan for the week, you can come home from work or from kids’ activities, get out the ingredients, and throw supper together. If a recipe requires advance preparation such as cooking chicken breasts or chopping vegetables, try to get it done the night before. Don’t forget to defrost any meat a day or two before you want to cook it.

2. Make Enough for Leftovers –

Always try to make double when the leftovers will heat up or freeze nicely. You can change up the meal with different sides or a different presentation (i.e. meatballs and spaghetti can turn into meatball subs the next night). Soup is great to freeze in small containers and enjoy any time. Make sure to date and label everything you freeze so you know what you have in your freezer.

3. The Sure Thing –

Write down a list of easy meals that you usually have the ingredients on hand for and the whole family likes. Some of our favorites are:

• Scrambled eggs or omelets – Pack them with whatever veggies, cheese, salsa you have in the fridge and serve with bacon or sausage, toast with jam and fruit.
• Quesadillas – Sprinkle in cheese, black beans and leftover chicken.
• Pasta – Tossed with sauce or just olive oil, parmesan/mozzarella, any leftover veggies such as broccoli, tomato, asparagus
• Fish – Stop at the fish market on the way home and then sauté or bake some fish with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and lemon juice (you can usually get a lemon at the fish market). Fish takes just a few minutes to cook and you can have a great meal at home (Serve it with couscous which takes just five minutes).
• Baked potato bar – Baked potatoes take a good hour in the oven, but there’s no mess and no hands involved.
• Taco night – Keep a taco kit in your pantry and some turkey meat in the freezer.
• Sammies – Pre-packaged meats last a long time and tastes pretty good. It’s all about the bread so keep a back up loaf in your freezer to defrost in minutes. Any type of grilled sandwich with some soup is a great meal for the whole family.
• Pizza, Pizza! – Keep pizza sauce and cheese on hand. Use bagels, English muffins, French bread, or an extra pizza dough (which you have waiting in the freezer) to whip up the ultimate kid “sure thing.”

About Michelle & Susan:

For years we have been preparing meals for one another’s family. We quickly found that this was a perfect way to share family favorites while saving time in the kitchen. This “supper swap” taught us to be more organized and efficient in planning our meals and shopping for groceries. Most importantly, we found ourselves having more time for family dinners. Our kids and spouses loved it and so did we. As friends started hearing about our swap, they were eager to find a way out of their own dinner rut and the hassle of organizing their weekly meals menu planner and grocery lists. We designed as a solution for busy families who appreciate the importance of sharing the events of the day around a great meal. We don’t pretend to be gourmet chefs, but we do enjoy cooking for our families. We hope that You’ our weekly meal menu planner will help you spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family.