ten tips for keeping it simply smart at dinner time and a $100 cooking.com GIVEAWAY

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

In our {kind of crazy} life, dinner time seems to be one of those crux times of the day; more often than not, when dinner goes well, the evening follows suit. However, it also seems like managing dinner time, and keeping a good system in place, can be quite the battle. With that in mind, and partially as a charge to myself as I try a new family schedule this month, Jordan and I compiled our best tips for keeping it simply smart at dinner time.

1. Menu plan! This has changed my life (and our budget), y’all. The months when I have my menu-planning act together are always less chaotic, cheaper months.
2. Grow a garden. There is nothing better than eating food that you grew in your backyard (or in your neighborhood plot, etc.). Also, I think they should make a candle called “Tomato Plant.” It’s the best smell ever.
3. Use seasonal produce. Not only is it yummy, it’s cheaper! Find out which fruits and veggies are in season and organize your menus accordingly.
4. Collect a few fabulous go-to, crowd-pleaser recipes that always work for your family (and for guests). Mine are grilled pizza and butternut squash and goat cheese pasta. I probably makes these dishes once a month and I almost always have the ingredients on hand for either one.
5. Use local produce. Not only are you supporting your local economy, you are using in-season produce, which is so much yummier than, say, off-season shipped-from-Chile pomegranates (although pomegranates are always delicious, so that’s a bad example). (Also, I don’t think they’re grown in Chile.)

6. Utilize your freezer! Whether you are making and freezing pesto, making freezer crockpot meals, or using fresh produce from a local farm to make and freeze soups for the winter, your freezer is your best friend.
7. Make your own pesto. This little gem is so useful that it gets its own point. Whenever you have access to fresh basil (I even add spinach to mine to cut the cost), make and freeze a batch of pesto. You’ll thank yourself later when all you have to do for dinner is make noodles and chicken, throw in some pesto and sundried tomatoes, and pair with a salad!
8. Have a few go-to sides that pair with everything and are easy to make. My favorite is a giant salad (the variations are endless), but we also have a couple of couscous recipes, a couple of rice recipes, and a few potato recipes to add to the mix.
9. Pull out that crockpot. Like your freezer, your crockpot offers all sorts of “Keep It Simply Smart” solutions. Not only can it be used to heat up your frozen crockpot meals and soups, there are all sorts of crockpot recipes just waiting to be tried. Bonus: a yummy meal for your family with minimal time spent cooking.
10. Use your grill. I might be saying this because it’s summer and we use our grill almost every night, but there is something beautifully simple about great seasonal produce and great meat on the grill. Simple. And fabulous.

How do you Keep It Simply Smart for family dinner time? Tell me about it in the comments for the chance to win a $100 Cooking.com gift card!

Gift Card Giveaway Rules:


No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. Winners will have 72 hours to claim the prize, or an alternative winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 7/23/12 – 8/23/12

Be sure to visit the Perdue Simply Smart Chicken brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

Like the PERDUE® SIMPLY SMART® Facebook page where you’ll find product info, recipes, and other tips from bloggers.

Similar Posts


  1. All of your pics are looking so yummy! Thanks for all the tips. Esp like the meal plan one….I gotta get better at that!

  2. I make a weekly menu at the beginning of every week so Im prepared as far as my grocery shopping and cooking. I also often make doubles and freeze half for a different night. We also always eat sit-down meals together so I dont have to serve a bunch of meals at different times!

  3. Love your post! We grill several nights a week too ~which keeps the house cooler in this 100+ weather…..and make crockpot creations often to use leftovers. Love the idea of a tomato scented candle…. that is the true scent of summer:)

  4. I totally agree with you about the “tomato plant” candle. I bemoan my lack of gardening ability just for that one plant.

    Our dinnertimes are usually simple just because there’s only two of us in our home. However, I’m starting a new full time job, and my husband works full time and will be a full time student come September. I’m planning on making friends with my crock pot so that I don’t have to cook when I get home. That might mean buying a new one, because I have my mom’s 30 year old hand-me-down. 🙂

  5. I agree with you on having a meal plan. It definitely keeps things simpler and easier for me. I also use my freezer a lot – SO thankful to have one! I just had our third little one this past May, so anything that helps with mealtimes is wonderful!

  6. I meal plan, and after my shopping trip I prep my veggies so that I don’t have all that work to do every night.

  7. Freezer cooking helps so much. I often make double and then freeze it for another meal in a few weeks.

  8. I always brown my hamburger as soon as I get it. That way if the day gets away from me, we will at least be able to have dinner in 30 minutes instead of an hour.

  9. I keep lots of vegies on hand (especially those good for salads) and grill all other food stuffs.! vegies – peppers, eggplant, potatoes, onions….all taste good grilled and so easy to make and clean up!

    1. but unfortunately I’m not a US citizen so don’t qualify for the give away…….but I can make that awesome meal!!

  10. i keep it simple by using my crock pot a lot and also by cooking
    enough for several days at a time when I’m grilling (i.e. steaks and maybe burgers for another meal

  11. I make a weekly meal plan based on store ads and sales and coupons. I make a shopping list based on this. No extra trips to the store because I don’t have the ingredients that I need.

  12. i save time by buying pre-chopped onions since i use them all the time and hate cutting them anyway


    “I am receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for submitting this comment.”

  13. i meal plan too! i also try to plan meals that will use each other’s ingredients so i cut down on waste.

  14. I Keep It Simply Smart in the kitchen when it comes to dinner time by cooking ahead of time. When I make won ton, I double the recipe and freeze 1/2 of it for another day.
    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  15. I cook lots of meals ahead of time and freeze….we do this in a group (cooking night and come home with 8 meals) or when I cook, I make a large amount and freeze the rest for another day.

  16. Make at least one meal a week that can be easily frozen and double it so you are taking the same amount of time for one meal and making it two.

  17. We are also smart with our time by using our grill almost every night around here…well into Fall in fact. However, I really need to utilize my freezer more. That would help a lot on those days that you just don’t feel like making anything.

  18. I keep it Simply Smart for family dinner time by cooking ahead of time and double the recipe and freeze the half portion for a few days later use.


    I am receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for submitting this comment.

  19. One way I keep things simple when it comes to making dinner is doing as much in advance (when I have more downtime) as possible. My afternoons are usually more empty, so I do a lot of prep work then.

  20. I put most used tools and ingredients in the most accessible place, do things in parallel, clean when food is cooking. Thanks for the tips and giveaway. I’m trying to grow a backyard garden too.
    songyueyu at gmail

  21. We try to use as much seasonal produce as possible. We go out of our way to purchase local for as much as we can. Thanks for the giveaway!
    P.S. I love the new post on 14 meals in one afternoon for the freezer!

  22. Just found your blog from a link on MoneySavingMom.com! I love your great ideas and they’re just in time because crazy-busy season is about to start in our home.

  23. Brown & freeze hamburger ahead of time. Cook chicken & shred ahead of time. Lots of casseroles & crockpot dinners.

  24. I would love to try the freezer crockpot meals. I have to do something because life is crazy with 4 kids and figuring out what is for dinner every night.

  25. I make it simple by having a protein and I try to incorporate fruits and veggies into every meal! Thanks for a chance to win and have a great day!

  26. My crock pot is my go to time and money saver. I keep my favorite crock pot recipes in a binder and I always keep a supply of veggies in the freezer that will work for a variety of meals.

  27. It helps for me to keep it simple when I menu plan based on what is on sale at the grocery store. I look through ads every week and simplify my menu based on what I can get a good deal on

  28. All your pictures are making me so hungry! To be organized I plan dinners in the summer a week in advance so I’m not stressing out or rushing around at the last minute.

  29. I’m obsessively organized so I make the most of my time in the kitchen by having everything organized, plan meals, do ahead/in bulk as much as possible and shop with a list at the grocery store.

  30. I redid the contents of my cupboards & drawers so that I have the things I use most closest to where I use them.
    Thanks for the contest.
    “I am receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for submitting this comment.”

  31. I make double batches of a few meals each month so I have a few nights I can just pull one out of the freezer and re-heat 🙂

  32. I freeze lots of items — pre-chopped and ready to go. It speeds up the cooking process a lot. Items such as green peppers freeze quite well.
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  33. I like to cook things that can do double duty. For instance I might make homemade Chinese one night and cook twice as much rice as I need. In the next few days, I’ll make the leftover rice into a pilaf or “green” rice or arancini. It’s nice not to have cook everything from scratch every night.
    I am receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for submitting this comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *