1. Take out/Eat out.
2. Huge Prep Meal, ie Thanksgiving Turkey or Easter Ham.
3. Medium Prep Meal, ie crock pot, slow cooker, sub-2 hour stovetop/oven time.
4. Leftovers/mishmash/soup and sandwiches.
In any given month, there is roughly:
#1 - 7 days out of 30
#2 - 2 days out of 30
#3 - 7 days out of 30
#4 - 14 days out of 30
However, depending on the meal, prep versus eating versus cleanup is always staggeringly unbalanced.
#1 - No prep really, outside of making sure Dad has his special utensils and cup, not much cleanup, and we can generally take as long as we want to eat.
#2 - 4+ hours prep and cooking. Less than 30 minutes, in most non-holiday cases, to eat. 30-60 minutes cleanup, including stripping the turkey and finding room in the fridges for all the containers.
#3 - 2-4 hours Prep and Cooking. Less than 30 minutes, usually, to eat. Up to 30 minutes cleaning time.
#4 - 10-30 minutes prep and cooking. Less than 15 minutes to eat. Less than 20 minutes to clean up.
Do you find your family has similar timetables when dealing with family meals?
Keep in mind, in my case, there are most times 5 adults to eat, 1-2 to prep, and 1-2 to clean up.