Wise Bread Reloaded: Dinner Time Is Hard, Says Science — Wise Bread Makes It Easy


A trio of sociologists from North Carolina State University studied the eating habits of 200 low and middle income families and discovered what Wise Bread's short-on-time-and-energy readers already know: dinner time is hard.

While most moms in the study expressed a desire to prepare wholesome, good tasting meals from high quality ingredients for their families, the reality was that they often could not, for a variety of reasons.

Moms in both income groups reported time as a big obstacle — delicious wholesome meals require a lot of it of prepare.

Both groups also reported that creating meals that satisfied everyone in the family was also a challenge. Finding meals that made everyone happy limited the range of options.

Money was a factor, too, but obviously more critical for poorer families. Higher quality ingredients are out of reach, of course. In addition, poorer families often cannot afford basic kitchen utensils or appliances required to make some recipes. And for those without reliable transportation, trips to the store must be carefully planned and are also infrequent, which takes fresh foods off the grocery list. For middle class families, money sometimes prevented moms from using the highest quality ingredients such as organics.

Of course, none of this is surprising. Meal times are challenging for most families, from whatever income group. Wise Bread writers have been discussing ways to make dinner time easier for years. Here's a selection of some of their best labor- and money-saving tips.

Use a Crockpot or Slow Cooker

Busy moms everywhere rely on the crockpot or slow cooker to get hot meals on the time in no time (by taking a long time to do it, which is weird if you think about it). Julie Rains offers 25 Great Cheap and Easy Crockpot Recipes.

No Crockpot? No Problem — Just Use One Pot

Making it all in a single pot cuts down on clean up time too. Marla Walters shares 25 Delicious and Easy One Pot Meals, which includes breakfast, too!

Limit the Number of Ingredients

Save time on shopping and prep and save money with a short grocery list by limiting the number of ingredients in your creations. Ashley Marcin's 25 Easy 5-Ingredient Recipes That Save Time and Money was a big hit with readers, and in this Wise Bread editor's kitchen.

Embrace Your Inner Lazybones

Lazy people just can't be bothered and maybe that's not so great, but the rest of us can profit from the shortcuts they come up with — especially if they are delicious, like these. Paul Michael collects and shares 25 Healthy Recipes for Lazy People.

Embrace Your Inner Workaholic

At the other end of the spectrum are the bulk or assembly cookers who set aside a weekend to get through a week — or even a month's — worth of shopping and cooking in a whirlwind of activity. Ashley Marcin walks you through how to Save Time and Money With a Monthly Assembly (or Bulk) Cooking Weekend.

Embrace Your Inner Goldilocks

Not up for prepping 30 days worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Aim your sights a little lower and freeze ahead five days worth of dinner, instead. Linsey Knerl shows you how in The Five-Day Freeze: Batch Cooking for the Rest of Us.

Make a Difficult Entree Easy

Finally, broaden your family's collective palate with something surprising, and fancy, and often too difficult to make by making it the easy way. Marla Walters brings us 10 Difficult But Delicious Recipes Made Easy.

How do you make dinner time manageable? Please share in comments!

Additional photo credit: Kyle May

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