5 Simple Steps to Get More Help with Dinner

6 minutes
April 28, 2023
Carole Jones

Yes, you need more help with dinner and here’s why…Moms spend an average of 68 minutes per day on meal preparation. That comes to 8 hours a week…not including time for planning and shopping!! How would you like a big chunk of that time back to do the things you love? Keep on scrolling to learn the 5 proven steps to get you going!

5 Simple Steps to Getting More Help with Dinner

If you are serious about giving up some control and gaining some freedom, these 5 steps will be your launch pad. Are you ready?

1. Know exactly what needs to be done

This might sound like basic common sense, but stay with me for a minute.

Let’s say you are making classic ground beef tacos for dinner because it is Taco Tuesday and that is what you always make. Of course you know exactly what needs to be done because you’ve done it a million times before but remember our goal is for you to do less.

The first step you need is to make a list of every task you complete to get those tacos on the table for dinner. You must be very specific…including menu planning, shopping list, shopping, and clean up.

The more detailed, the better. Here is a great example:

list of dinner tasks

Why is such detail necessary? It definitely seems a bit ridiculous to have something like “brown ground beef” listed separately from “season ground beef” but it is an important distinction for your next step.

2. Decide who could complete the tasks with little or no help from you

Now that you know, in detail, what needs to be done for your next Taco Tuesday, let’s get some of those tasks off your plate.

Go down your list and write down who could do each item with little or no help from you.

5 Simple Steps to Getting More Help with Dinner

This is where the detailed task list really helps out. For example, while your 10 year old might be able to brown the ground beef for the tacos, he wouldn’t know how to season the meat (unless you purchase a taco seasoning packet!).

The beauty in breaking down tasks into their simplest parts is that it allows many hands to become involved instead of just one. And it allows you to start small, which is extremely important and which leads us to our next step.

3. Start with one new task & only one

While you have a list of many tasks for this one meal and most likely your family members have at least 2-3 tasks with their name next to it, take a deep breath and start small. Just one…and here’s why.

If you want this new family cooking plan to work, you have to take it slow. Just like you would hate for your boss to suddenly give you responsibility for 10 tasks she normally takes care of, your children and partner will feel the same resentment if you try to pile on dinner tasks you have always taken care of.

Start with the least intimidating task you assigned to them in step 2. While your teenager certainly has the ability to do your weekly grocery shopping, that would completely overwhelm them as a starting point. Instead, start with something small that will be no big deal for them to lend a hand with for a few minutes.

When working with clients who are so anxious to make this change, this step is where so many run into resistance because they hit the gas too fast. Start small…knowing more progress lies ahead!

The question I often get asked is “should I find one small task for them every night I am cooking dinner?” The answer is completely up to you and what you feel would work best with your family. Again, we are getting them comfortable being in the kitchen a little at a time, as well as getting YOU comfortable with letting go of control a little at a time 🙂

If you feel having them do one small task a night to start will go off smoothly, go for it. If you expect big push back, start smaller.

5 Simple Steps to Getting More Help with Dinner

4. Increase responsibilities by 1 task each week

Now that you’ve gotten your family members actually doing something to get dinner on the table, let’s stretch them a bit more. Again, they key here is to not rush it, allowing them time to learn, adjust, and accept without push back.

Allow them to repeat the task they had responsibility for last week, and add 1 more for this week.

For example, if I had Jonathan brown the ground beef for Taco Tuesday last week, then this week I’m going to have him chop the lettuce as well. Then the next week, I’ll add one more task.

Can you see where this is going? Pretty soon, I won’t have to step foot in the kitchen on Taco Tuesdays!!!

If you have children or a partner who are doing one small task every night, then increase it to two every night.

No matter if it is only once a week, or every night, you are making progress my friend and soon, you will be able to sit down and read a book while you family makes dinner all on their own.

three people mixing ingredients in a bowl

5. Work with them as you teach new skills

Again, this may seem like common sense but let’s expand on this important step so you understand the “why” behind it.

When we have an ability that we view as easy or intuitive, we assume it is the same for everyone else. But that is not the case.

If you patiently work with your family member, side-by-side as they learn these new skills, they will be more willing to try and keep trying if they fail. They need to see you as a supportive resource to answer their questions, praise their accomplishments, and provide patient correction as they learn.

For example, if I would like my partner to take over the weekly menu planning for our family, he will need some guidance from what I have learned over the years of doing it on my own. He will need to know where to find ideas and recipes, how to plan around busy nights on the calendar, and how to plan for unexpected changes to the family schedule.

If you want this new family dinner plan to stick, it will take time on your end, but no more than what you are already giving now. Simply involve them now as you complete these tasks, teaching them along the way, until they are ready to go it alone.

family cooking together

Need even more resources and inspiration to get more help with dinner?

Family Dinner Academy is the ultimate step-by-step system for getting dinner on the table every night by working together as a family. It is the only comprehensive program that teaches the whole family how to meal plan, prep, cook, and clean it up so you don’t have to do it alone!

Doors open in March so click here to join the waitlist so you will be the first to know when the next launch of this digital course begins so you can get more help with dinner!

Carole Jones

Carole Jones is an Arizona-based cookbook author & food blogger. She's authored The 30 Minute Cooking From Frozen Cookbook and the self-published Take 5: Chicken e-cookbook. For the past 15 years, Carole has shared her culinary adventures cooking and baking for her six brutally honest children here on My Kitchen Escapades. Hot, crusty bread is Carole's love language, but her two adorable grandchildren are a close second. Yes, second. Don't judge.

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