How to Get Organized for Dinner: Part 1 – Meal Plan

As much as I have been full out crushing on summer, it’s been a huge relief to transition into a fall schedule with the start of school.

I’ve been sharing a peek at my meal prep efforts over on Instagram and many of you have asked about how I get organized for family dinner. September feels like a good time to revisit some of my favourite (and most popular) blogging topics such as meal planing, meal prep and batch cooking.

No one wants to be looking in the refrigerator at 5 o’clock at night, wondering what to make for dinner – again. Even food professionals like myself have to have a strategy for putting a meal on the table every night.

Chances are if you’re considering integrating a weekly meal plan into your life, it’s because you’re looking to simplify cooking. We’re all busier than we’ve ever been, yet we don’t want to compromise on wholesome food. This series is here to help, my friends; it’s time to get organized for dinner.

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A vibrant end of summer feast

This morning all three of my children left for school and I found myself with a quiet house for the first time since June.

Always the planner, I made myself a second cup of coffee, grabbed a note pad and began scribbling down my menu for the long weekend. Labour Day is just around the corner and we’re getting together with friends for a vibrant end-of-summer feast.

I’m guessing you probably have similar plans: shop the local markets for the most beautiful produce, invite a few people over, and fire up the barbecue. Maybe you’ll toast the start of a new school year or raise your glasses to the end of the heat wave – both are welcome changes.

In case you’re looking for menu inspiration, today’s post provides a few ideas – my absolute favourite recipes of the summer.

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Grilled Peach and Chicken Kebabs

Every August when the Ontario peaches arrive in our markets, we tend to go a little stone-fruit crazy.

There’s always a large bowl of peaches ripening on our dining room table next to a stack of cloth napkins for a sticky afternoon snack. We slice peaches into our morning oatmeal and ice them for afternoon lemonade. I pair them with fresh tomatoes and soft cheese for a twist on a Caprese salad and stew them with brown sugar and spices into a sticky barbecue sauce.

And this summer, we’re skewering peaches with chicken and grilling them to perfection. It’s a fast and fun dinner that pairs perfectly with my Watermelon Greek Salad. There’s still time for plenty of patio meals before fall arrives, so read on for the recipe and start planing your next cookout.

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In the French Kitchen with Kids: Steak Frites

Forget cooking shows and YouTube; kids best learn to cook by getting in the kitchen and doing the actual food prep and cooking.

I feel like I’ve been saying this for years (maybe because I have been saying this for years), as well as stressing the need to teach the younger generation this important life skill.

One person who totally gets this hand-on approach is my friend, Mardi Michels. She’s a food writer and an elementary school teacher, and now she’s written a fantastic cookbook: In the French Kitchen with Kids: Easy, Everyday Dishes for the Whole Family to Make and Enjoy.

It’s a cookbook for children, their parents and, well, people of all ages. I mean, who doesn’t love French food?

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Watermelon Greek Salad

Watermelon is a delicious, ever-present staple in our diet all summer long, hacked into wedges and served up chilled. It’s a refreshing way to beat both the heat and my children’s inevitable afternoon attack of the munchies.

I usually sprinkle my melon with a touch of sea salt and a squeeze of lime, and or blend it with mint into agua fresca. But this summer, watermelon has taken the spotlight in a vibrant salad that is as delicious as it is pretty.

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