About the Author

Jen encourages women to embrace both the beauty and bedlam of their everyday lives at BeautyandBedlam.com. A popular speaker, worship leader, and author of Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, Jen lives in North Carolina with her husband, five children, and a sofa for anyone...

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
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(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
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Reader Interactions


  1. I love your one power hour for meal prep. I’ve been prepping meat and chicken on Sundays, but never thought of seeing how much I can do to get ready for the week in an hour.

    After lunch I like to take 5 or 10 minutes to cut up vegetables, or do something to prep for dinner. Cooking seems easier when I do it in increments.

    I also make simple tomato, olive oil and garlic sauce with no other seasoning. I freeze or can it to have on hand.

  2. Jennifer,
    Let me first emphasize the point you made…FIGHT FOR DINNERS TOGETHER! My children are grown and I literally had to fight to keep dinner time a family time, but it is well worth the fight. Don’t give in to what the rest of the world does.

    Thank you so much for all the meal planning ideas that you offer…I admit that I need to get better at this. My only tip is that I buy in bigger quantities and then I separate into the portions I need and make marinades. Then I freeze the meat already marinated so when it thaws it is saturated with flavor.

    I will be sure to try out your tips and recipes…we all need a break in the often boring rotation of meals.

  3. My obstacle is that I’m usually tired by 4:30/5 and honestly, it is just so hard to enjoy cooking. But I usually try to have those easy meal ingredients on hand and have it all ready when my husband gets home. I try to clean as I go … so that when hubby gets home, we can sit down and eat, and then it won’t take me so long to clean up afterwards. For some reason, cooking seems a chore; yet, baking is fun.

    • Cleaning as I go is something I do NOT do well. I definitely need to work on that. With meals feeling like a chore, have you thought of doing a cooking night with friends? It’s so fun to do that and then you have meals for weeks or even a month. 🙂

      • Cooking with friends does seem fun … but we have recently moved. I don’t have that close group of friends to get together with right now. But, I know it is coming. I have never tried a cooking group …

  4. Agreed- I’m a quote junkie… and two of the quotes you said I have pinned up : “Work Smarter Not Harder” and “If you fail to plan you plan to fail”. I try to do as much cooking ahead as possible- simple meals and LEFTOVERS!!! Use them don’t let them waste! 🙂

  5. What GREAT suggestions! Thank you for the cooking tips. I will enjoy the one hour of preparation … knowing it will help me all week.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write your post. I LOVE it!! 🙂

  6. I make dinner easier by cooking chicken ahead of time. I buy in bulk when it’s on sale, cook and cut it all up and freeze it in 2 cup portions in Ziploc vacuum bags. I can just grab a bag of chicken, ready to go for a casserole or quesadillas (a quick and healthy staple in our home!)

  7. Great ideas, love the pic of your family sitting around the glowing candles. In the fall and winter I like to make big pots of soup and freeze them in smaller portion sizes and even some in individual sizes too. Bonnie

  8. I am fairly new to the blog world, and brand new to your site. I love your time saving tips. I can not wait to try the Simple Sesame and Orange Chicken recipes! Yum. Also, the Asian Pork Tenderloin. I love cooking and often create without measuring. Certain recipes are never the same twice! We eat as a family at least 5 times a week. Some nights that means eating at 8pm, but we make it happen.
    You have inspired me to make plans to break bread with friends as a way to connect in our busy lives. We all have to take time to eat, so why not together
    Thank you!

  9. I love the idea of power cooking hour. I find that my dinner prep time is actually a somewhat meditative task for me – I like that sense of accomplishment of what I can do with my hands. For me, the key is building time into the schedule for the cooking AND making sure I’m not trying to corral the kids at the same time. So, we allot 30 minutes of precious “screen time” to the 5:30 hour. My kids love their screen time and I get 30 minutes of quiet to cook.

    (But with that, I’m learning that I need to identify ahead of time which days are going to be “quick cook” dinners – use your tips and ideas, and not get frustrated that I can’t cook soup from scratch after we get home from soccer at 6:00!)

  10. OH MY WORD! You must have been running around in my brain! This is an answer-to-prayer post! Will print to read at leisure!! Thank you, and Thank God!

  11. Thank you!! i am cooking for one, and it is hard to find the motivation at the end of a busy day to cook healthy balanced meals. These tips will really help! Thanks

  12. I recently got married and find it especially hard to cook good healthy meals. I am a good cook and know how to cook healthy, the problem is, my husband likes meat and hates vegetables. Whether they are warm or cold, other than cucumber or corn, I can’t get him to eat anything. He is very (VERY!) specific in what he likes and simply doesn’t like that much. How do I get us to a place where we eat varied, healthy, good meals… anyone?

  13. A friend of mine used to have a neighbor child who was a very picky eater. If he popped in while she was cooking, she would have him take one bite right over the garbage. If he didn’t like it, he could just spit it right out. He came back years later and credited her with being able to try anything, anywhere he traveled. Maybe if you made something that your husband likes and just a little of something else that he hasn’t had before and make it clear that he’s free to “spit it out.”

  14. Love your ideas. Even though I don’t have children, that dinner time without distraction is worth fighting for. I have a pastor’s wife friend who cooks 30 meals in one day and freezes them. That way when the schedule is busy she can take something out and just warm it up.

    Secondly, I flipped over to your 10 minute meals and could not find the recipes for your dishes. They all sound delish–especially Mexican pot roast. Please tell me how I can find the recipes.

    Thanks and God bless!

  15. O dear me. I’m a person who takes time at the supermarket and look at the chilled meat and fresh vegetable daily. Pick up what looks good that day, then plan the sauces depending on availability. So things change when I actually see the meat and vegetables.

    Pick up the sauces and garlic, onions. Maybe limes. Tomatoes. I love to add fresh vegetables to the sauces.

    This would be about lunch time when we would catch a sausage roll and a diet soda, mostly iron bru. Then I would shop and look round shops as well.

    I would make sure I’d be home at five to start removing the fat out of the meat. Chop up the garlic and onions. Start the fire going and fry up the garlic to a crisp. The onions to a soft and melted state. Love tasty onions.

    Depending on the menu I’d fry the meat first and brown it on all sides, depending what it is. Then slow cook it for two hours.

    I do not like using a lot of salt nor sugar. I love the taste of the original meat. Not that I eat a lot of meat. Curries are best cos they go on slow cook for hours and hours. After an hour I love to just put it in the oven.

    O I love parsnips. So delicious. And nothing like Yorkshire puddings on the side. Crisp. Garlic bread. Exceptional. I love to cook but I love to take hours and hours and hours and then look at the people who eat them. Usually, their first taste. They put the food in their mouth and then, look at me. Then, say, this is delicious. So, I smile back and the food gets demolished completely and totally though I’ve made extras.

    I love cooking. I love looking for the good meat for the day and fresh looking vegetables.

    O I must be boring. 🙂 Compared to you.

  16. Dinner time for me is dreaded when I have to cook and rush. Having precooked meats in the freezer makes perfect sense and would definitely help. I don’t enjoy cooking usually, and would rather do clean up afterward. I also clean up as I go usually, and that is nice, but family dinner together is often not an option with our teens schedules. I keep trying but it doesn’t happen very often.

  17. Your post was a wonderful reminder for me. We are in the throws of a frenzy of the kids’ activities this fall and having dinner has seemed like an impossibility. I know it isn’t. Just going to take some planning. Have a blessed week!