How I Stopped Dreading Dinnertime

Dinnertime is relentless, isn’t it? It comes every single evening without fail.

How many weeks in a row can we eat spaghetti and tacos and that easy crockpot potato soup before my family notices I only have three poorly executed recipes in my arsenal? (Also, it’s summer and 80+ degrees. Nobody wants to eat my potato soup right now.)

If it were up to me, we’d eat breakfast dishes every night. I make delicious cheesy eggs and perfectly browned pancakes. My bacon is just the right level of crispiness (that’s extra crispy, thank you very much), and let’s not discount the efficiency and cost effectiveness of a simple bowl of cereal.

I mean, think of the time we’d all save if we ate cereal every night. Seriously.

But I live in the real world with things like my family’s health and happiness to consider. You, too?

A few months ago, at the height of my dinnertime despair, I found myself relying on Subway, Panera, and Chipotle  for dinner far too often.  And every time I tried a new recipe from Pinterest it turned into a colossal failure. My children wouldn’t touch it, and my husband just happened to be a little less hungry on those nights. So what’s a girl who doesn’t like being in the kitchen to do when night after night, week after week these people I live with expect food on the table?

One day not long ago, I spotted a few friends on Instagram chatting and sharing about how much luck (and fun) they were having with Michael Symon’s Five in Five cookbook.  (That’s five ingredients and five minutes of cooking.)

Wait a minute, I HAVE that book in my kitchen.

Determined to catch their excitement for trying new things in the kitchen, I asked these friends for recommendations from the book. The commitment seemed low. I could handle five ingredients and five minutes.

I slowly started adding the recipes into the mix. Turns out, chefs write cookbooks and they include really good recipes! Who knew? Now I have a new outlook on dinnertime and a brand new arsenal of meals thanks to a few simple steps.

The Four Steps I Took To Banish Dinnertime Dread

  1. Make a commitment to choose one new recipe each week. Look for them in the cookbooks you already own (or those at your local library) and visit websites and blogs where the author makes a living writing and sharing recipes.
  2. Skim the ingredients list and directions to see if there’s an ingredient or technique you need to learn more about before tackling it. This is especially important if, like me, you’re still getting comfortable with meals that require more than two steps (open and heat).
  3. Add the ingredients to your grocery list and get excited for your new adventure. You can even involve your kids if they’re old enough. Tell them you’re trying something new and ask them to help you make it turn out just right. (Personally, I send my kids far from the kitchen when I’m trying a new recipe, so that last part may have been a pep talk for myself.)
  4. Ask your family for feedback and keep track of the recipes that work best so they find a way into your regular rotation.

And here’s a bonus step: Try to enjoy the process. When I stopped viewing dinnertime as a chore and started seeing it as a way to lovingly serve my family, my heart did a 180 degree turn. Now when I’m chopping shallots (I know what those are now! I tell you, I’m on an adventure!) and dicing tomatoes, I thank God for the mouths that I’m able to feed through His generous provision. What an awesome job we get to do, mamas.

Do you have trouble coming up with new meals to serve your family? Are you ready to join me on my adventure? Do you allow little helpers in your kitchen?


sarahSarah is a 30-something wife and mom of two preschoolers who lives imperfectly for Jesus. She’s a communication professional by day, word girl by night and always an appreciator of art. You can find her pursuing beauty and collecting stories at


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  • Avatar LaToya says:

    Sarah, you truly sound like a woman after my own heart. I actually felt like I was reading a story about myself and my family. I am going to look up Michael Symon’s Five in Five cookbook right now! I also love you advice about changing how you view dinnertime. I think that is a good concept to apply to all of the day to day tasks that we mothers try to accomplish. It is truly a blessing to be able to serve our families through the meals we cook, the laundry and the dishes we wash, and all of the bickering that we have to squash! Thank you for inspiring me today.

    • Avatar Sarah says:

      How funny, LaToya. I love when that happens when I’m reading a blog post. And I’m super glad I’m not alone in my struggles! Praying for your dinnertime this evening. <3

  • I might have to try this book! I HATE cooking and dread all meals. My go to is crackers, cheese sticks and a fruit/veggie. All the major food groups! So much work goes into something that disappears in minutes!! I think though I can handle 5 in 5 🙂 unless the ingredient is something that you have to find at a specialty store. Who can possible manage that when they have 4 kids and getting through the “normal” stores gives you a headache 🙂

    Thanks for keeping it real!

  • Avatar Janet says:

    Thank you! I needed that encouragement to overcome the dinnertime blues. And my local library has that cookbook Sarah mentioned. 🙂

  • Avatar Katie says:

    I NEED this book! I just wrote a bio about myself for a project and one of the tidbits I included about myself is that I wont (errrr… Can’t) cook anything with more than 5 ingredients!!