With three kids and a busy home, I count on having #dinnerdoneby9am: a system of delicious recipes, quick food prep, and simple scheduling techniques making it easy to plan and prep your way to a more present life. Regardless of the day’s activities, #dinnerdoneby9am guarantees our family will spend dinnertime around the table together

This is the second post in my Dinner Done by 9 am series. Read the first post to learn more about why I cook dinner by 9 am.

I’ve already covered why I cook dinner by 9 am, in this post I’ll cover more details on how I do this.

The first step in #dinnerdoneby9am is to have a plan. I meal plan one day each week and then shop one day each week. This little bit of time spent up front saves me hours of time throughout the week in last minute trips to the store or rummaging through the cabinets to put dinner together. With the recipes planned out for the week and the food already in the house I am able to streamline my prep time each morning.

The second step in #dinnerdoneby9am is the prep work. Not all dinners lend themselves well to being cooked in advance. Casseroles, soups, stews and salads tend to be dishes that can easily be prepared in advance without compromising quality. Things like seafood, seared/ grilled meats that are served warm and pasta are not usually reheated with as good of quality the second go around, but there is still a lot that can be done in advance when preparing dinners including these components.

The list below is a good breakdown of what cooking activities I do in the morning and what I save for the hour prior to meal time.

Things I do in advance;
-assemble salads, but don’t dress them
-make salad dressing
-make all sauces (dipping sauce, sauce bases for pasta dishes…)
-marinate, wrap, stuff or chop meat
-wash and chop herbs and vegetables
-pre-cook vegetables (when applicable)
-fully assemble any casseroles (mac and cheese, lasagna, green bean casserole, breakfast casserole…) up to the point of baking, refrigerate and then bake immediately prior to serving
-fully cook all soups, chilis, stews and curries, refrigerate and then heat back up prior to serving
-make any dough or baked goods that are necessary
-throw everything in the slow cooker when using it
-fully prepare any cold salads/ pasta salad (like chicken salad, pasta salad, curried chicken pasta salad, sesame noodles..,)

Things I do directly before eating;
-reheat any soups, stews, curries etc.
-add fresh herbs into soups or stews
-dress salad
-cook any seared/ grilled/ roasted meats
-bake any casseroles
-roast veggies for side dishes
-cook and add pasta to soups or sauced pasta dishes
-cook rice when using

By prepping in the morning, every evening I am 5-30 minutes (often inactive bake time) from enjoying a delicious meal with the people around me.

Read the next post in this series to learn more about my favorite dinners to cook by 9 am.