Here is how to create inexpensive, easy dinner options to show your kids that even with working parents, dinner can be a mindful experience.

Step 1: Make a meal plan.  Below is a basic example of a meal plan for the week.  You will not find seven layer cakes or roasted leg of lamb here.  Understand that you are the parent of kids so some days you will eat like kids.

Monday: Seared pork chops with mashed potatoes and corn

Tuesday: Spaghetti with sauce, garlic bread, and salad

Wednesday: Steak tips on rice with a salad

Thursday: Hot dogs with kettle chips and pickle spears

Friday: Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup

Saturday: Crock pot chicken with stuffing and cranberry sauce

Sunday: Chicken quesadillas with Southwest salad

Step 2: Preparation is key.  Identify what you already have, take out meats to thaw, purchase the remainder using a shopping list so you don’t purchase items you don’t need.

Step 3: Cheat if you must.  No one would expect you to hand roll pasta from scratch.  Give yourself some leeway in other areas. For example, I understand your from scratch mashed potatoes are to die for, but when you get home at 6pm and everyone is hungry, it takes less than 5 minutes to make a pouch of instant garlic mashed potatoes.

Step 4: Upgrade your meal.  Have a small salad with every meal to instantly take it to the next level.  Up the ante by getting special toppings like feta or shaved Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and dried cranberries.