When you call to your family that dinner is almost ready, do they immediately appear? Mine don’t. I call a few times, then I hunt them down and make sure they really are hungry. Sometimes I even get their plates ready for them while they mosey into the room.
While I’m waiting for the family to trickle in, I get the prep dishes cleaned so there is less clean-up after dinner. I can clean anything that doesn’t make it to the dining room table. A mixing bowl, measuring cups, pans for breading, a spatula, any knives, or pan lids can all go straight into the dishwasher before we sit down to eat.
If we are eating something that made a cooked-on-mess, I transfer it to a serving dish and soak the cookware while we’re eating dinner. This is especially true for crockpot meals when the sauce has been baked onto the pan for 6 or more hours.
Then, after dinner, all we need to do is rinse our plates and start the dishwasher load.