Trying to wrangle the troops after a long day at work?

The thought of coming up with a weeknight family dinner can be downright frustrating, so why not run through the fast-food line or grab a pizza right?

It really doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few ideas to help you get dinner on the table during those crazy weeknights.

1. Homemade mini pizza on the grill. The good thing about pizza is it doesn’t take long to cook, maybe 5-7 minutes. So fire up the grill, keep those turkey pepperonis, pizza sauce from a jar and cheese on hand and you can grill your family up some personal-sized pizzas in no time. I love to use frozen dough for dinners rolls, when they are thawed out, they are the perfect size for an individual pizza. Serve with a side of salad and you’ve got a delicious quick diner that the kids will enjoy putting together with you.

2. Roast in the crockpot, of course, you can even throw in potatoes to have the sides ready as well. A lot of times though, I’ll use the roast for shredded beef tacos and tacos are one of the easiest and quickest things to have on a busy weeknight, just get the toppings out and you’re ready to go. To make the meat even more delicious, if you have a few extra minutes, place the shredded beef on a lined sheet pan and stick it under the broiler for 5 minutes, it’ll have the best texture.

3. If you’re in a situation where you literally don’t have the time to make dinner, one thing I suggest and it does take a little more planning is to always have prepared foods on hand. I typically will always have ground meat, grilled chicken, or roast beef on hand and cooked for lunches and sometimes we have to use that for our dinners too…with 3 kids and activities all in different directions, you don’t always have time to cook. So the microwave is the next best thing, and I’ll tell you it’s much quicker and healthier than going through the drive-through. Have some steamable frozen veggies on hand at all times in your freezer, prepared rice or potatoes and if you don’t you can always count on me having the 90-second microwavable rice packets on hand, throw in a can of black beans and boom, you’ve got a chicken rice bowl ready to go.

These items require a little planning at some point in your week. So one thing I have found super helpful is to take a look at our calendar for the week, decide which nights I have a little extra time for actual cooking and what nights I will have zero time. I make my list of meals for each of those days and make my grocery list according to that.

After a few weeks of doing this consistently, you’ll have it figured out and your crazy busy life will be a lot more planned out and healthy.

Last thing, if I ever run into a situation where dinner just can’t be made or eaten before activities, I make sure to have plenty of healthy snacks on hand before the crazy starts and then we can always eat after the activities are over, even if it’s as late as 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm, because for our family, how we eat is a direct reflection in how we perform. So, I’d rather have a later meal with healthy snacks beforehand, then go through the drive-through. Some great snacks I love to have on hand are summer sausage, hard cheese, and whole wheat crackers, cottage cheese, cashews, protein bars, protein powder for shows, apples and peanut butter. Having things high in protein and healthy fats will keep you satiated longer and help you sustain extra activity.

Be the example your family needs you to be. Keep them fueled in a healthy way and make time throughout your week to plan for the times you won’t have time to cook.