Interview with Sandi Richard & A Knorr Recipe

What's for dinner? I am sure you hear this question as much as I do and I am sure like most of us you think I don't know. I used to be great at planning out a week or more of meal plans and then everything seemed to fall apart last fall. I am slowly getting back into planning my meals ahead of time and this helps with the dinnertime stress! It also helps the kids know the answer to that question I hear almost daily "Mom, what's for dinner?"

As a busy family and well some days I am just too tired to even think about preparing a meal I like to turn to grocery store helpers. I have been a huge fan of Sandi Richard for years now and have her original cookbook called Life's on Fire: Cooking for the Rushed. Recently I had the opportunity to ask Sandi a few question to share with my readers.

I want to thank Sandi for taking the time to speak with us about getting dinner on the table. Sandi has teamed up with Knorr to help busy families answer "What's for dinner?" with quick and stress free recipes.

Q1) Sandi, can you explain to myself and Genuine Jenn readers what the importance of meal planning is? Why should we spend time each week planning what to eat?

The first and most important reason is because it saves time! As the Knorr survey points out, the parent taking responsibility for choosing the weeknight meals are spending almost one hour per day just stressing about the decision! The survey clearly points out that weeknight dinners are about stress, lack of time and guilt, so we need to help our families with that! Modern day meal planning only takes a few minutes vs. the hours of time taxing our wonderful parent’s overtaxed brains!

Q2) I have a lot of people tell me they don't meal plan as they feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start. What would you tell them?

Start with your family at a low stress time! That’s the best place to start! Grab the recipes your family loves and sit down asking them, “Which meals would you like next week?” This is a much different question than the high stress question, “What do you want for dinner tonight or tomorrow?” Often the latter comes along with a large dollop of “I don’t know” and inevitably disappointment for the parent trying to plan! How can moms find meal ideas that are not the same go-to meals over and over again? Start slow! I am known to say, “We are a fix it today and mess it up tomorrow culture!” Let’s not do that! Add one new recipe to your current repertoire. Once that becomes familiar, it’s time to try another! Looow stress adventure!

Q3) Being a fan of your work, I know you talk a lot about grocery store helpers. Can you tell Genuine Jenn readers what this means and how they can help simplify dinnertime? 

Thanks! I really do wake up each morning with a smile knowing I can help families! You’re right; I am a huge fan of helpers. Here’s what I mean by that: just a few generations ago, Great Grandma would make helpers (jams, stocks, sauces, pastes, you name it). They would use these helpers all winter adding them to fresh ingredients to make a well rounded nutritious meal. We now have the world’s helpers at our fingertips! Ok, so we don’t have time to make them, but it works the same way! Take a look in the fridge of a health nut. You will find all kinds of helpers and all kinds of fresh ingredients. They understand the work-life balance of food, activity and stress. If our families learn to be at peace with fresh ingredients added to helpers they will
save time and be a whole lot healthier!

4) I want to have the children involved someway in the dinner planning (My kids are 5 and almost 7) What can I have them do to help make meals enjoyable for them and also help learn to help in the kitchen? 

Another great question! Parents shouldn’t feel guilty that they don’t always have the energy to teach kids to cook at the dinner hour. After all, most people have been working all day and then embark on a whole new series of activities when they get home. I suggest lying on the floor with your kids in a low stress time with all your favorite recipe books and favorites. Get everyone involved in the picking. This goes such a long way when each family member feels that his or her opinion counts.

Then I suggest a parent starts involving their kids by what I coin “Cooking-Together-Apart.” This means
a parent cuts or chops a few things after kids have gone to bed…only a 5-10 minute task. Expect the
older child to assemble the meal the following night with a little supervision. A couple of things happen
here. You offer your children the ability to take care of themselves. You praise your child for being such a great cook, for example, “Daniel’s famous lasagna!” Once this child can do the assembly so well, only then should a parent teach them one of the prep steps. Eventually this becomes that child’s specialty. Then of course add more specialties over time! In the case where there is more than one child, the younger children want to be grown up just like their older sibling. They are being seasoned that participating in the prepping and assembly of the family meal is a good thing!

Q5) Would you like to share some other thoughts with my readers about meal planning and calming the hectic dinner time rush? 

Yes…parents, don’t be so hard on yourselves! Stop listening to every little piece of science as if it were the new solution to all our food woes. Science usually doesn’t incorporate LIFE! Instead, filter the information with the understanding that we live in a modern world! We lead busy, fast paced lives. Remember, one of the reasons we stress about dinner is because we instinctively know that dinner is a time to connect with the people we love the most. So let’s not complicate the dinner making process in the work week…aaand when it comes to the eight million conflicting pieces of food science that continually makes us question our good judgment…breathe! 

Here is a quick and easy Knorr recipe we tried recently that was nutritious and very tasty. Don't forget to visit Knorr on Facebook for other great recipes.
Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes & Black Bean Rice
  • Recipe serves:4
  • Prep Time15 min
  • Cook Time40 min


  • 4 boneless centre-cut pork chops, (about 450g.), trimmed of fat
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large sweet potato or yam, peeled and cubed
  • 3-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 pot Knorr® Homestyle Stock Reduced Sodium Chicken
  • 1 can (540 mL) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  • Season chops, if desired, with salt and ground black pepper. Heat 15 mL olive oil in deep large nonstick skillet over high heat and brown chops. Remove chops and set aside.
  • Heat remaining 15 mL olive oil in same skillet over medium-high heat and cook onion with sweet potato, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in water, rice and Knorr® Homestyle Stock Reduced Sodium Chicken. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered 15 minutes.
  • Stir in beans and cilantro, then top with chops. Cover and cook until chops are done and rice is tender, about 10 minutes.
Tip: Out of Knorr® Homestyle Stock? Substitute 875mL of Knorr® Chicken Broth® for the Knorr® Homestyle Stock and water in the recipe.

~*Disclaimer: This post was written by Genuine Jenn on behalf of Knorr Canada. I received a gift bag of Knorr products.  All opinions are honest and my own.*~


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