I haven’t been quiet about the love I’ve found for Dream Dinners. My friends, my sister in law, my mother in law and even my daughter’s classmates parents have all joined in the fun for the past few months and signed up for their own sessions. Dream Dinners is a kitchen that’s set up for you to assemble meals for your family. You sign up, select your menu items and show up to put together your meals in a 60-90 minute session.

This article is sponsored by Dream Dinners.

Spend Less Time Shopping, Chopping and Cleaning

I’ve been attending a Dream Dinners session for the past 7 months. I make 8-10 meals per month for my family to relieve some of the stress of getting dinner on the table every night while working full time. This alone has made me love family dinners even more. I get to spend more time with my children and less time shopping, chopping and cleaning. I’ve also employed other time savers in my life, like grocery delivery and curbside grocery pickup. In addition to saving time doing things I don’t really like to do, I’m saving money too!

Give Everyone a Job

We have children age 1 – 7. It is a little complicated to give the one year old a job of her own but she “helps” empty the dishwasher and carry napkins to the table (they make it there ALMOST every time.) My three year old wipes the table off and sets out silverware on the table, he even helps in the kitchen a little bit. My five and seven year old love helping with the meal preparation and since I did most of it in the Dream Dinners kitchen, they can certainly help with what’s left to do at home or they can help me prepare our sides or desserts.

Keep it Simple

Some of our favorite family meals have taken place over paper plates and paper napkins. My son LOVES Mickey Mouse, so when we saw Mickey Mouse paper plates on clearance, we bought them and it made for an evening full of smiles. PLUS, you don’t have to wash the dishes. Every Mother’s Day, I treat myself to a giant package of paper plates to use over the summer. Sometimes, simple is the very best way.

Go All Out

It’s always fun to follow up the advice of keeping it simple with “make it really complicated.”

I registered for China and Crystal for my wedding and if we don’t host Thanksgiving, it doesn’t get used all year. Until I decided to just start using it whenever I wanted to. Since I’m saving time with the Dream Dinners service, I’m splurging occasionally and using our fine dishes.

Move Your Meal

This summer and fall, we’ve been eating our meals outside when we can. The kids love it, clean up is even easier outside and it’s a change of pace. Once, we packed up our Dream Dinner meal into a cooler and had a picnic at Garfield Park. The beautiful gardens were a fun setting for our Limoncello Shrimp with Coconut Rice. You can even have a picnic in front of your fireplace or on the floor!

Theme it

Taco Tuesday is a huge day in our house. My children love tacos, they love personalizing them exactly how they like them and they love the festive mood that hits our house after school on Tuesdays. Mariachi music, chips and salsa for a snack when they come home from school and special plates make it a pretty big deal.

We’ve incorporated themes with Italian food and Chinese food too!

Plan Your Meals and Get Input

Plan your meals in advance and let your kiddos be a part of the planning. We’re trying something new. We incorporate two Dream Dinners meals into our menu each week and I let the kids help me select my menu. For the remaining 4 days each week, we know that we’re typically away for two of the nights. That leaves 2 nights per week where we take turns deciding what is for dinner each night and I let my kids decide at least one night each month. We write their selections on the calendar and they look forward to when their night is!

I love the Dream Dinners mission of bringing families together around the dinner table. When I set aside one hour per month to assemble my meals, I’m having fun. When I’m sitting around the table with my family, listening to stories from their day, I’m also having fun. No matter how your prepare your meals, I hope these tips help you enjoy the journey back to the family dinner table.