Day 2: The Chef’s Hat – 6 practical tips for feeding your tribe

Ruthie Chef 31 Comments

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

“Hey mom!  What’s for dinner?”untitled (154)

It’s the eternal question you can’t escape.

The family wants to know.

And they want to know it EVERY DAY. (You probably do too.)


And so, you put on the chef’s hat.

Even if you don’t like cooking, you’ve got to learn, because the family isn’t going to give up food for life.

So c’mon, mom!  Get with the program – and let’s learn some simple tips and tricks in the kitchen!


1.  Create a plan

Sit down on Sunday evening and plan out your meals for the week.  Or Saturday morning, or better yet – sometime Friday.

Then you can go to the store over the weekend and stock up on what you’re cooking.


2.  K.I.S.S.

Simple is the key word here, people.

It’s the only way I go, unless I have extra time.

The other night I decided I had extra time so I made Paula Deen’s chicken and dumplings recipe.

It was good.

But most days, we don’t do fancy.


Here are a few ideas:

Hot dogs and mac-n-cheese

Spaghetti (the family staple)


cheeseburger casserole (my son’s fave)

Crockpot barbecue chicken (dump frozen chicken tenderloins in a crockpot, top with your favorite barbecue sauce – BAM.)

Nacho potato soup


These are just a few of my simple go-to recipes.

I have a cooking blog you can access here, and it’s full of all my old favorites.  Mostly simple stuff you can cook quickly and easily.


3.  Teach your kids to cookuntitled (155)

This will help you immensely.  Get them in the kitchen with you – even if you have boys.

They all need to learn cooking skills before they leave the house.

Once they learn basic skills, have them take a turn making dinner once a week. (And if you have 7 kids, you’re off the hook – woot woot!)

I had one child who developed a passion for cooking (praise God) and since this is the case, she usually jumps right in helping me with whatever I’m doing.

(And since she’s a “swiller” AKA strong-willer – she even takes over and knocks me to the curb at times.  Read more about this strange breed of swillers here.)


Stay on them, mom.  I know it seems like more work for you right now, but in the long-run, you’ll be glad you did.

Remember, you only get one shot at raising them. Invest your time. Click To Tweet


4.  Savor table time

There is no substitute for family time around the table.

Catching up on the news of the day, enjoying the aromas and tastes, sharing laughter around the family circle.

Turn the tv off.


Connect, taste, and savor.

Some of my best memories with my kids at home involved this precious time.

Make it a habit.


5.  Keep something sweet on hand

Kids love dessert.  So does the hubs.untitled (156)

Even at my most hectic times in life, I always had some kind of homemade cookie bars on hand.

Collect a few go-to recipes and rotate them.


Here’s one of mine:



1 stick butter

1 pckg graham crackers

1 pckg semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 pckg peanut butter chips

1 can sweetened condensed milk



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees or 325 for glass dish.
  2. Spray 13×9 inch baking pan with Pam, then melt margerine in pan in oven.
  3. Crumble crackers and sprinkle crumbs evenly over margerine.
  4. Top with chips; pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over chips.
  5. Bake 25 to 30  minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool.  cut into bars.  Store at room temperature.


6.  Make everyone help with clean-up


Dude.  You’re the mom, not the slave.

Figure out a method – one loads the dishwasher, one unloads, one washes pots and pans, and one stores the left-overs.

Stay on it – the natives will try to bail.  Invariably, someone will pull the diarrhea card as soon as it’s time for clean-up (I have one of these – I know their ways).


Teamwork, people.  Cooking should be a family effort.

I know, I said you’re the chef, and you are.

But even a chef has a team.


You are the chef. Grab your hat, your team, and get in the kitchen! Click To Tweet


untitled (157)

The epitome of family time, Gray-style. I’m living in the crazy house.


Click here for Day 3: The Sports Hat!

{Hey mom, I’m glad you’re here!  If you’re new to this site, this is part of a 31 day series called, “31 Hats Mom Wears”!  Yesterday, we learned all about how to wear the nurse’s cap, and some helpful tips on how to care for your kids when they’re sick.  I hope you’ll join me for this quick read each day – and easy way to do this is to sign up for it to be delivered right to your inbox!  Just fill out the box to the top right underneath my picture and I’ll see you tomorrow in your email!  I’m pulling for you, mom.  You can ROCK those hats!}


Linking up today with Five Minute Friday – and I’m sorry peeps, the timer ran out after step number 4 but I wanted to participate today because the word FAMILY just fit with my subject!  Love you guys! 🙂

untitled (3)

Comments 31

  1. Ruthie, I LOVE your suggestions. I’ve been training my boys to cook. It’s part of their weekly responsibilities to help our family. This summer I began teaching them five of my easier recipes, and they are each proficient with three so far. My younger one really enjoys cooking. They both feel such a sense of pride when they’ve prepared a meal.

    My one tricky aspect, is one boy can’t do dairy, the other’s allergic to nuts. And me? Well, let’s just say there’s more I can’t eat than that I can eat. So, our menus look pretty . . . interesting some weeks. 🙂

    Great post, friend!

    1. Post

      Thanks, Jeanne! I had fun with this one because the kitchen has always been such a big part of our family life. Our kitchen is a part of our great room and it’s just where we live. So many memories.
      And good for you teaching those boys to cook! They seem so young for cooking so well already!
      I’m sorry about the food problems though. That stinks. I guess you have to get pretty creative there!
      Have a good weekend and enjoy the boys!

        1. Post

          Ohhh!! Ok, I was like “wow she is gettin’ after it early!” hahaha! I’m glad you explained. Enjoy the tween years – but I’m telling you now, the TEEN years are the BEST!! (Bet you didn’t expect me to say that, huh? If I’m lyin’, I’m cryin’. Teen years were my faves.)

    1. Post
  2. What a fun series to do! This made me laugh. Of course, the daughter who hates to cook moved in with me. Your tips, doesn’t work on her. She thinks I’m her 5 star restaurant.

    1. Post

      Michelle – same over here. She hates to cook. At least she volunteers to help now – which was like pulling teeth when she was growing up! (Ah, the Swiller.)

  3. These are all great ideas! I love cooking for crowds and having my people over (family, friends, students, strangers)–but it doesn’t happen enough! I paid my daughters at different times in their lives to do all the menu-planning, shopping and cooking for me (they needed money and I had no time). They are both very competent in the kitchen now!

    1. Post

      I know, there’s no substitute for family time in the kitchen and around the table! But that’s a great idea, paying the kids to do it sometimes. Even my son can function in the kitchen and that’s a big deal. 😉

    1. Post

      Oh yeah that’s a must with toddlers. They are picky and their little taste buds aren’t anything like ours. My pediatrician used to tell me not to get all wigged out if they didn’t eat from the four food groups because “you can count ketchup as a vegetable”. HA!!

    1. Post
  4. Love this! I do the BBQ chicken too! Your Double Delicious Cookie Bars sound amazing. I will be trying those this weekend! I try to live by the K.I.S.S. method with everything. I notice when I don’t meal plan, my dinners get very random and weird. I can’t wait to hear about tomorrow’s hat #newfriend!

    1. Post

      I’m so glad you’re finding the series helpful! I just love your icon. It’s super cute. Anyhoo, you will LOVE the double delicious cookie bars. My family thinks they’re in the four food groups. We survived many a year on those things – and still going strong!

        1. Post

          I just found your comment…in my SPAM box! Idk why that happens. Anyhoo, I’m a total Elf lover. I’ve been listening to Christmas music for over a month now. (You can never have to much of that!)

          1. Post
    1. Post

      Mary, if my son approves of the cheeseburger casserole, anyone will love it, because he is SUPER picky!!! Let me know if you try it out! I’m glad at least hubs helps you (sometimes)! 🙂

  5. “What’s for dinner?” — I’ve been struggling with this eternal question, too, and I enjoyed reading your post.
    (I’ve come here through 31 Day Survivors group on Facebook.)

    1. Post
    1. Post

      Guarantee you the neighbor would NOT mind if you borrowed her kids and fixed them dinner (and maybe her too)! LOL! Thanks for stopping by again, Tobi!

  6. Oh Ruthie, you have me laughing with, “Dude. You’re the Mom. NOT the slave.” Oh, I love these practical kitchen tips. I love to cook and go through stages, right now I’m in an easy, let’s nail this quick and get to the dinner table phase. So I appreciate your tips. I also love family dinner. I’m so glad for all those nights we ate dinner together with my kids, just like when I was growing up. Gonna share this on my FB page, Pinterest, AND TWITTER. LOVE!

    1. Post

      Thanks so much, friend! Hahaha, yes, the eternal “What’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner” question! UGH. So is our lot in life. But I must say, I really love to cook and make tasty things for my family to enjoy. And YES – the table talk. So so important and precious. You miss it so much when they’re gone!

  7. Love this post! I used to be so awesome in the kitchen… it’s far less fun when cooking for picky children. So my mantra these days, when my four-year-old wrinkles his nose and asks, “Will I like that?” has become, “What did YOU make for dinner?” Can’t wait until my two-year-old understands that logic!

    1. Post

      Oh I know, girl. It’s no fun at all cooking for picky pre-schoolers. You have to lower your standards drastically, but take heart, dear one, it does get better! 🙂 Thanks so much for all your sweet comments and for sharing for me! (Are you sure you don’t want that assistant job?;)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.