Dinner Sanity Savers

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Getting the kids to settle down in the “witching hour” between school and dinnertime is a challenge most parents face. New York Times Best Seller, and nutritionist Leanne Ely offers these tips to help parents get through the “withcing hour,” with less stress and a happy brood.


Ely says “Five guaranteed-to-shut-down the witching hour tips or I will come and cook dinner for your family myself!”


1. Have a Plan. You have to have your menu planned for the week so you’re not schlepping through the grocery store at 5:45 p.m. with hungry, miserable kids hoping to score a rotisserie chicken. If you have your meals planned for the week, you’ll be more than a little ahead of the game – 75 percent of Americans don’t know what’s for dinner at 4:30 p.m. each day. If you have your plan, you’ll have thawed chicken and some veggies stashed in the freezer; no last minute runs to the grocery store.


2. Appetizers Anyone? Having a quick appetizer for the kids will soothe their tired little selves. Have this stuff ready to go in little plastic containers, including little veggies that you can plop on a plate easily and serve with some (dreaded) Ranch dressing. Kids will eat anything with Ranch dressing.


3. Play with Your Food. You’ll double your chances of getting your kids to eat their vegetables if you give them some toothpicks to stab the veggies. Just make sure Junior doesn’t put the baby’s eye out and no Norman Bates imitations!


4. Hire Help. Don’t you wish? For most, that ain’t happening. In light of getting a chef and butler, train your little padawan learners. Give them duties in the kitchen and teach them what to do. True, it might take longer initially, but there will come a point where your 12-year-old can suddenly make dinner by himself. That’s because you had him at your elbow since he was little. Don’t miss this golden opportunity.


5. Make a Busy Box. Have a plastic tub with special stuff that the kids can only play with when Mom is making dinner. Put some books in there, special games, puzzles and some pretend cookware. While you’re busy making the salad, ask little Suzie to make her pretend salad and talk her through it as you do your own. Kids like being involved even when it’s just pretend.


For more tips, go to www.savingdinner.com.