Start early. Put together a casserole or slow-cooker meal during breakfast, when you're in the kitchen anyway.
Involve your children in making meals. Toddlers and preschoolers can sprinkle cheese on quesadillas, tear up lettuce for a salad, or arrange potato slices on a baking sheet. You don't save time because of the help you're getting (of course you could do it faster yourself), but you don't have to leave the room every two minutes to find a crayon or referee a fight.
Make Sunday your weekly meal-prep day. Portion out snacks into individual servings, cut up veggies to be used for dinner later in the week, and make a double batch of a freezer-friendly meal to pull out on a busy night.
Fire up the barbecue. "It takes less time to cook fish on the grill than it does to make chicken nuggets in the oven -- and it's much healthier," says Jenn Hervy, mother of a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old in Towson, Maryland.
While you're cleaning up after dinner, set the table with breakfast dishes and nonperishable items such as cereal so you have a head start in the morning.