At the end of a long day, the idea of coming home to make food isn’t always very appealing. It can be hard to be creative, plan the right way, and make dinner time a part of family time, a way to reconnect after a long day. Katie Workman is a cook, writer, mother of two, activist for hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals.

We asked her to share some of her thoughts with us about how to make food the center of your family just like it was for hers. Her cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook, are amazing sources of inspiration with her work being featured on so many amazing platforms from FoodNetwork.comSimplyRecipes.comCooking LightEating WellEvery Day with Rachel Ray, to Parents Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, thekitchn.com, and  Food52.com.

We had the privilege of gaining some amazing tips for food prep, simple recipes, and so much more. We hope you enjoy it!

Thank you Katie for spending some time with us. Tell us about how you were inspired to be a cook, writer, activist, and advocate for family meals. Why is food so important to you?

I grew up in a house where cooking and food were very much at the center of things. Not in a precious way, but my mother was a very good cook, and my father was a very good eater, and they loved having people over, so there was an undercurrent of cooking throughout my life. We had family dinners most nights, though in my later childhood when both my parents were working and commuting to NYC from CT, our dinners were always on the late side. I remember my friend Tory always saying, “Wait, you’re eating dinner at 8:00!” Not all that typical in CT in the 80s.

It is amazing how food can bring us together and inspire us to do so much more from these simple family circles. Now that you have your family, what are a few of our simple go-to recipes? 

These are my absolute top three:

Chicken, Broccoli and Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry

Taco Night

Simple Baked Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

Those look so good! Now that the holidays are quickly approaching, how do you prepare? What are some of your tricks for the perfect meal without the extra stress?

Make lists, and lists and lists. Do as much as you can ahead of time – shop for non-perishables, find the gravy boat, polish anything you need to polish, chop anything you can chop, let people bring something. Put the children to work peeling things.

Those are really great tips! When it comes to hosting, what are some of your best ideas for a good time? 

Serve things family-style. Don’t leave yourself a lot of last-minute fussing, especially if your kitchen is closed off from the rest of the party. Keep the foods simple, don’t make the extra dish that will make you nuts, serve as much room temp as humanly possible, have lots of fun drinks, alcoholic and not. Make sure to check allergies beforehand, err on the side of caution if you don’t know about things like nut allergies, and make sure to have some vegan and gluten-free offerings.

Perfect. What are the recipe staples that you always have on hand?

Olive oil, kosher salt, Dijon mustard (grainy and smooth), soy sauce, multiple vinegars, chipotles in adobo, sesame oil, honey, broth, pasta, and various rice. 

These are great options. When it comes to busy moms on the go, what are your tips for food prepping right? 

Do it far enough in advance that, it’s helpful to you, but not so far that your minced garlic gets funky! If you are a meal planner, look at your recipes, and see what can be done ahead. If you are not, prep a bunch of ingredients you know you use often, like chopped onions, minced garlic, chopped parsley, peeled carrots, and so on.

Such great tips! Tell us about your work with City Harvest and No Kid Hungry? Why is this so important to you?

My work with City Harvest and No Kid Hungry is more important to me than just about anything, other than my family. It is simple – and perplexing and horrifying – that in a country with so much excess (40% of our food goes to waste), that people are still hungry, or food insecure. It is a highly solvable problem. Yet, at this very moment, the government is working in the opposite direction, to make nutritious meals in schools for kids harder to get. It’s maddening. I’m heading to DC in a few days to attend the No Kid Hungry/Share Our Strength summit, and lobby on Capitol Hill. This is just unacceptable, and we have to say that very loudly, and with a lot of voices. The voices can be powerful ones, or us regular people, saying what needs to be heard.

That is so inspiring and such a great challenge to focus on and bring awareness to. Lastly, why do you believe food makes a house a home? 

How doesn’t food make a house a home? I know many of my kids’ memories, like mine, revolve around food. But it doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t even have to be homemade. I think we all have a big old soft spot for ordering sushi on Sunday nights and watching a family movie. 

So true! Thank you again Katie for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

To learn more about Katie and see more of her amazing recipes, visit her website.

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