It's 4:30. Do you know what your family is having for dinner? Roast chicken? No, still frozen solid in the back of the freezer. Carnitas? No, that should have gone in the crock pot six hours ago. Frozen lasagna? That takes two hours to cook and you only have one. Tortilla soup? Don't have all the ingredients.
This happens to me all the time. I have served peanut butter and jelly, cereal, and frozen waffles for dinner. (Not all at once. I'm not that crazy.) This is unacceptable, really. I have three growing kids, and a husband who works hard all day to put food on the table. Well, he works for the food, and the table. Putting one on top of the other is supposed to be my job.
So, I invented the three alarm dinner. I set an alarm to keep me on track. Three of them actually. I use my iPod Touch, but any phone or alarm clock will do.
10:00am Lovely church bells ring, usually from my back pocket. When I pull out my iPod, it gently asks me, "What's for Dinner?" This may be a little late in the day for some of you, but any earlier and I would be too busy to hear it ring. I stop, and make myself answer. I look in a few cupboards. I take something out of the freezer. If I can fit in a quick trip to the market, I do. Even if I have all the meals for the week scheduled (which I do about every fifth week) I need to be reminded, in case some early prep work needs to be done. Like loading up the crock pot.
2:00pm More lovely church bells, just checking in. "Do you need to prep dinner?" This comes in handy if I am baking, or roasting, something that is going to take awhile. I chose two o'clock, because it takes three hours to make bread in my bread machine and dinner is between 5:30 and 6.
4:30pm Chimes again. "Make dinner." Okay, it may say, "Make dinner, Stupid!" but the love hate, perhaps abusive, relationship I have with my iPod is a topic for another post. This alarm has a snooze button. Sometimes I don't need to start cooking that early, but I need to be kept aware of the time.
This might sound nuts. But it works! Only once since implementation of the Three Alarm Dinner plan have my children eaten frozen burritos for dinner. And that was just because I was making steak and there wasn't enough to go around.
There is a fourth alarm. This is more of a WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH alarm, like you hear if there is a nuclear meltdown or you don't push the button every 108 minutes. It rings at 5:30, and gives me the number to the nearest pizza place.
So, what is for dinner?