Dinner Prep During Lunch

For some reason the hour before dinner time seems chaotic and rushed many nights. For most families, dad is just getting off work, the kids are tired and hungry, there is homework that needs to be done, and many times we are rushing out the door for the next practice, lesson, or game. There is a way to avoid this dinner time rush, and perhaps have a home cooked meal with your family instead of hitting the drive-thru several times a week.

One trick I learned a few years back that saves me a lot of time during the “witching hour” is to do all dinner prep during lunch. Longtime readers know I dislike lunch breaks, but the kids need to eat. If I am already in the kitchen, I mind as well chop up veggies, cook or marinate meat, put the casserole together, and make a salad for dinner. This allows me to get dinner on the table in under 30 minutes most days of the week.

A few weeks ago we had stir fry, which is a bit labor intensive with all the chopped veggies. While the kids were eating lunch I chopped up all the veggies and meat then kept them in the fridge until dinner. It took me about 15 minutes to fry them up in the wok and dinner was ready. This meal had the added benefit of me giving my kids some of the veggies I was chopping for the stir fry, making their lunch even healthier.

The other benefit of dinner prep during lunch is that you can get the majority of your dishes done in the afternoon rather than after dinner.


  1. Great post and so true! I do this all the time, also sometimes during nap/quiet time I do prep if lunch is too crazy. Definitely enjoy not cleaning up so much in the evening after dinner when I’m more tired.

  2. I am a working mom, so working on dinner at lunchtime isn’t an option for me. What I do is prep tomorrow night’s dinner tonight!

    While I made dinner tonight, I prepped hamburger patties for tomorrow’s dinner. They’ll even taste better after all the seasonings set all day tomorrow.

    Also while i make dinner, i pack my kids’ lunch for the morning. I put together carrots and dip, chips and granola mix – but will probably make their sandwhiches in the morning so they are fresher.

    • TheHappyHousewife says:

      Great point. I thought about talking about dinner prep at night for working moms, but I thought it needed a separate post. You have a tough job! And I totally agree, food does taste better when it sits for a day.

      • I think a seperate post would be great! I don’t know if you have any about packing lunches for kids, since you home school but I am always searching for fresh ideas.I find that I get bogged down with cooking and packing lunches so all the tips and tricks I can come up with are a necessity! It doesn’t help that my husband works nights so I’m always on my own with these tasks.

    • I’m trying to get in this habit more for my husband and myself. We’ll be out the door together by 5:40 am this school year so dh can teach a morning scripture class.
      I managed to get dinners prepped for all week and lunches are packed each evening. Breakfast burritos are stashed in the freezer for mornings that we’re running behind. Whew. Two days down, 178 to go.

  3. i do that all the time 🙂

  4. So, what time is dinner? That looks so good. I love stir-fry!!

  5. This is the greatest idea EVER. Especially because in our house, my spouse does most of the cooking and although she loves it, she sometimes feels too burnt out to make dinner by the time supper time rolls around. Thanks for the great idea! And your stirfry has my mouth watering.

  6. I like that idea, I don’t know why I never thought of it earlier (well probably because I was working so it never came up) Now that I don’t have a job that would make a lot more sense!!

  7. I have been trying to make this a habit in our home. It’s a great idea!

  8. Why didn’t I think of that? I’m excited to try this. Thanks. 🙂

  9. I’m always surprised how quickly dinner gets done when I’ve prepped in advance. When my husband’s home, he’s always really good at that. Me — not so much.

  10. What a great idea! I’ll have to try that today!

  11. What a great idea!

  12. Great idea!My days are busy, but much more quiet with the boys gone, I need to get things ready during the day. Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. I do not have much patience with the chopping and preparing part of cooking! (I am not much of a cook, so sad! :-p)

  14. Wow, those veggies look good.

  15. Great idea! I think so many people wait until the last minute to prepare dinner and that’s why they end up going out to eat instead. For example, you didn’t realize you were out of eggs. Or you didn’t read the recipe beforehand and didn’t soak the beans overnight. If you begin to prepare during lunchtime, it allows for those mistakes.

    And of course – if you’ve already started to prepare the meal at lunchtime, you’re a lot less likely to just say, “Let’s go out to dinner!” 😉

  16. excellent idea. So do you cook things, like rice, before hand and then just reheat? Or do you mostly just do the choppin’?

    • TheHappyHousewife says:

      cooking and or chopping, depending on how well the item tastes when it is reheated. Taco meat good… scrambled eggs bad. 🙂

  17. My goal is to have my dinner prep or dinner itself done at lunch time. Makes the evening so much more relaxing! I don’t always get it done, but I try!

  18. Very clean web site , thanks for this post.

Speak Your Mind