The Six O'Clock Scramble - Mealtime Angst Be Gone

As much as I love to cook and dream of being a restaurant chef, I still get stumped at the 5 o'clock mark:

- What to make tonight? 
- What haven't I made in awhile? 
- What can I do that's exciting? 
- What can I create with what I have on hand?

I wake up every morning thinking and writing about food, meals and restaurants, and yet I still find it a challenge to dream up dinners that are not just healthy and easy to make, but are not just me going through the motions.

So I decided to give The Six O'Clock Scramble a try.

Aviva Goldfarb has spent "the last eight years developing strategies to survive 'The Six O’Clock Scramble.'" and explains that "it involves cooking one simple meal that the whole family can enjoy, getting organized in advance about dinner menus and grocery shopping, and involving the kids in dinner preparation and clean-up." 

She is onto something here with her meal plan for the week. Making sure you've got the ingredients on hand and planning out your meals a little in advance helps eliminate sheer panic that creating a meal from scratch can bring on.

And the system is easy to follow, so you can seamlessly incorporate it into your already insanely jam-packed schedule without it. You simply get your meal plan emailed every Wednesday with 5 dinners - sides and grocery list included. Then you swap out what you don't want with recipes from the database and create a week's worth of suppers. A grocery list is automatically updated (and in sections, so there's no having to double back for something), so when you go to the grocery store, you're organized and ready. The idea is that you go just the once, shop for everything you need, and then go home and prep either for the week or just that night.  I shop more than that just because I like to get certain things from particular places, but The Six O'Clock Scramble certainly straightened me out and got me more on track. I can certinaly look forward and plan out the week better than before.

Then there's the recipes themselves. What I like about them is they are basic recipes with an interesting flavour profile added, so that it doesn't seem or taste rote in the least. One of the first weeks I received my newsletter, I was excited by Smoky Chipotle-Lime Meatballs. Not only does Aviva provide you with the recipe, she gives you how long it will take to make and cook (15 minutes/20 minutes) and a grocery list should you not have the ingredients at the ready.

To help alleviate any holiday stress, I was sent a printable Thanksgiving checklist as well as the wonderful and most helpful Thanksgiving Dinner Survival Guide: 10 Steps to a Calmer Feast. Still feeling panicky? Not to worry, this Butternut Squash + Apple Soup with Crispy Sage will save the day.

Should you or your family have dietary restrictions, you can search for everything from low carb and low fat to dairy-free, wheat/gluten free and low sodium.

Trying to cook a healthy, happy dinner every night is extremely challenging - The Six O'Clock Scramble makes it easier. And completely doable.

Stephanie Dickison

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