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What to make on a night when time is short and hunger is high

July 29, 1997

What to make on a night when time is short and hunger is high

Dinner in a jiffy

It's not easy to juggle all the demands on our time, but planning meals can be a little easier if we have a game plan in place for the days when we're under the most pressure. Here are some tips:

1. Try to allot 15 or 20 minutes a week to set up menus. Balance recipe choices with your schedule, planning to serve more complicated dishes when your calender is free of appointments and more simple meals when it's full.

2. Take a quick inventory of your cabinets, refrigerator and freezer. Then check newspaper ads and supermarket aisles to see if there are other items you could keep on hand that would make hurry-up meals easier to prepare. When considering your budget, don't eliminate the possibility of using convenience foods. Convenience foods prepared at home can be more economical than buying restaurant food, running out for take-out or ordering food delivered. Some time-savers actually are inexpensive.

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3. Mark all the recipes that you prefer to use most often. Draw a clock face for the quickest and easiest. If a dish can be made entirely from items you normally keep on hand, award it a star. Sketch a simple skillet or pan on all those entrees that cut down on cleanup time by requiring only one pan.

4. Keep an open mind about what you serve when. For instance, having tradititional breakfast foods for dinner is just fine. More families than you might guess already enjoy suppers of savory skillet scrambles, fried eggs sandwiches, pancakes and other "morning" meal items.

5. Recruit your family team. When you think you're just too busy to teach the kids to shop, cook and clean, consider the time as an investment that will pay you back with interest many times over.

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