Several of you posted great questions on this recent post. And, they are legitimate questions that I had myself when considering a big Sunday meal. How do you really make this work with toddlers and nap times? I don't want to spend my whole afternoon cooking and cleaning up! Do you prepare ahead or do the cooking when you get home?
First of all, let me say that I am still very new at this Sunday dinner idea. I've only been doing it for about two months. There are a couple of things I've learned that are helpful - but I would also love for some of you who are more seasoned at this to chime in also!
Here's our scenario: we go to the 9:15 service at church. This puts us home at around 11 am. We usually eat around noon. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later. When we finish the girls go directly to their nap time. We do not have a Sunday evening service, so until our children are old enough for Awana, we don't have anything in the evening.
I do as much prep as I can ahead of time. This is HUGE in getting a big meal on the table for me. What this means practically is that I bake a pie on Saturday, cut up veggies, etc... Let me get more practical.
After dinner on Saturday night, I clean up our dinner dishes and start prep on our Sunday dinner. I want to start the day on Sunday with a clean kitchen. I gather all recipes and think through the timing of everything. I've even been known to set out the pans, dishes and ingredients (non-refrigerated) that I will be using on Saturday night. I also like to set out our Breakfast dishes and anything that can be set out ahead of time. And, set out the pieces of china I'll need for the next day.
Now, on Sunday morning, I almost always start the meat before we go to church. This usually only takes a few minutes and goes a long way toward having a great meal ready! We eat breakfast and I tidy up those dishes and then set the table for dinner. I don't make this goal every week - but to walk in from church with a table set and the main dish smelling good is a GREAT start!
When we get home, I put on an apron and get to work completing the meal. After we have finished eating, the girls go down for their naps and I clean up. I'm usually all done by 1pm and then have time to play a game with David, read, craft, relax, or whatever.
Here are a couple of examples:
* When we did the Olive Garden dinner I made Pasta Fagioli soup in the Crock Pot - I had browned the meat and chopped the carrot and onion in advance so all I had to do was dump everything in. Garlic Herb Chicken and Broccoli: I marinated the meat overnight and it was ready to go in the skillet. I used frozen breadsticks in effort to save time. The dressing for the salad was made the day before and I used a bag of salad. It pulled together pretty quick after church.
* For our Mitford meal I made Cynthia's Roast Chicken - started before church. Puny's Creamed Corn: cut off of cob night before. Stir Fry Green Beans: cut up night before. Biscuits: made after church. Roasted Red Potatoes: Set out of fridge to come to room temp, washed before. Cut up quickly after church and they went right in the oven. Pecan Pie: made the day before.
This book offers some great suggestions along with the recipes of what can be done ahead.
Now, let's think about some ideas for those of you who go to a later service or who go back to church in the evening and don't want a lot of work in the afternoon:
* Maybe your tradition could be to have a nice Sunday breakfast before you go to church. It would still be something special for Sunday and you would not have to worry about it when you got home.
* Have your big meal at a different time: Sunday or Saturday evening - whatever suits your family and situation.
* Stick to a simpler big Sunday dinner. For example: put a roast with carrots and potatoes in the crock pot. Serve with salad, bread and/or fruit. Everything in the crock pot is ready when you walk in the door and the salad and bread can be set out in just a couple of minutes.
Still not sure how to create this tradition in your home? Leave a comment with your scenario and let's offer suggestions together!