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.

Whatever the opposite of a procrastinator is, that is what I am. I like to do things WAY ahead of time. I start planning my friend’s baby showers when they’re still in the first trimester, sometimes even before they are pregnant. ‘Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today’ is my mantra. I like to finish my work/ tasks so that I have free head space to fully engage in my play. On a typical day, I like to get all of the errands, cleaning, cooking, bill paying, emailing etc. done first thing in the morning so I know how much time I have to play and can be totally present while I am playing- not distracted by what I have to get done later. This helps me to be more present in those play moments enjoying the people around me. I also know from experience that in having small kids around there are always unexpected things that come up in my days. I know that 3-6 pm is the most challenging time of day with my kids. We have homework to get done and my kids are tired and cranky as bed time approaches. If I waited until the evening to get dinner done it would be a much more stressful process because there are so many people and things competing for my attention all at once. My kids are at their best, most rested and happy selves in the morning so they are more inclined to entertain themselves and need less intervention. One of my kids is also at school in the morning, so we have less people around the house all together. I am a morning person. I get up between 5 and 6 everyday ready to jump right into my day.

With this in mind, several years ago I started cooking dinner first thing in the morning. Not all meals lend themselves well to being prepared in advance but many do, especially soups, casseroles, pasta salads, curries, lasagnas, stews, chilis, even the sauce bases for warm pasta dishes can easily be prepared in advance. Anywhere from 4-7 dinners that I prepare each week are prepared ahead of time in the morning. Even dinners that can’t be fully prepared ahead of time I will chop, marinate and prep for in the morning and just finish off the final cooking before we eat in the evening.

This is what works for me. You may be different. You may not be a morning person. You may be rushed to get out the door and not have extra time in the morning- if that is you, everything I do in the morning could be done the evening ahead. You could make dinner for tomorrow by 9 pm today even.

Read my second post in this series to learn more about  the specifics of how I get #dinnerdoneby9am or my third post to see some of my favorite dinners that easily work with this model.