02 Apr Mealtime Hacks for the Busy Mom
We get it. You’re busy! Just when you think life is going to slow down a little for you to come up to the surface and take a breath, something else happens.
Work, carpools, sports, homework, house work, exercising, paying bills, running errands, grocery shopping, etc. Then on top of all that there’s dinner time. Ugh…The dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?” is like nails screeching down a chalkboard.
It’s the last thing you want to do after a long and chaotic day– more work.
If you have ever felt like this, don’t give up! Don’t let dinner be the greasy fatty food at the local fast food restaurant down the street. These simple hacks have literally transformed dinner times for us, making dinners healthier, less chaotic, and more enjoyable for everyone:
1. Meal Plan
Before you do anything else, you need a meal plan. We know what you’re thinking, “That’s just more work.” But we promise you that a simple 15 minutes of planning your meals for the week will DRASTICALLY reduce your headaches and time spent at dinner time. Trust us! With Pinterest and Google at your fingertips, it really shouldn’t take long at all. Just look up the recipe, and jot down any ingredients you don’t currently have stocked in the pantry or freezer. (FYI–Apps like My Pantry and Out of Milk help you easily see what you do and don’t have stocked in your pantry.)
Now, for those of you who would lose their heads if they weren’t attached….we’ll save you some frustration from losing your grocery list. Take a picture of your grocery list with your smartphone, or even email it to yourself. There are a ton of apps out there that help with this as well–like Evernote, Mealime, or Avocadolist. So long as you have your phone, you’ll always have your grocery list.
To make it one step easier, companies like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron take out the hassle of all this, and meal plan for you, then deliver your food (with the recipes) right to your door! It just can’t get any easier than that!
2. Grocery Shopping
Arrange your grocery list of ingredients by department. For instance, list all your eggs, milk, and yogurt under a “Dairy” category. No more running across the store for one product, then back for something else (that is unless you enjoy wasting time and energy…). Some of the above-mentioned apps will even automatically list their ingredients by category, eliminating your need to do it. Shopping by department will make grocery shopping a breeze.
Some of you may not have 30 minutes to spare in a grocery store, even with an organized list. If that’s you, we’ve got three magical words for you: Online Grocery Pickup.
Wait a minute–Does that mean you don’t have to drag your kids into the store wrestling them and feigning off their little fingers from all the sugary sweets as checkout?
Yes! That’s precisely what it means.
So many stores are adding this life-changing feature including Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Target, Smith’s, Fry’s, Sprouts, Amazon, and other supermarkets. Not all of these offer free pickup, but some of them do deliver right to your door!
We promise you’ll save time with these online grocery stores, you won’t be wasting money on impulse buys, and you definitely won’t be fighting off tears from the kids. (That alone is music to every mother’s ears…)
If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for?
3. Cooking Time
Now here comes the REAL work…or is it? Here are a few tricks to working less in the kitchen:
Instant Pot – We’re sure you’ve heard all of the hype surrounding this nifty gadget. It really IS all it’s set out to be. How many times have you found a recipe you wanted to do near dinner time, and then saw you had to slow cook it for 6 hours? (Too many times actually). Depending on the Instant Pot (or other knock-off high pressure cookers), you can pressure cook your food in 30 minutes or less! And you know what’s even more amazing? It tastes so tender–as if it WAS slow-cooking all day!
Pressure cooking is just one of the features of the Instant Pot. Many also include other features like rice cooking, steaming, slow cooking, sauteing, browning, yogurt-making, egg cooking, warming, and sterilizing.
Meal Prep – It’s amazing what prepping your food earlier in the day can do for you at dinner time. Cut those vegetables, defrost that meat, make your marinade, etc while the kids are playing. The only trick to this is, you have to remember to do it! We suggest putting a timer or alarm on your phone.
Make Big Batches – So maybe you’re only cooking for 2 people….who says you can’t make a recipe that serves 6? This is something that has saved our lives! We almost always double our recipes, then after it’s had time to cool down, freeze the rest for another day when it’s particularly busy. Just pull it out 24 hours before you plan to bake it, and pop it in the oven.
There are SO many meals that are freezable. Some of our favorites are Stuffed Shells, Chicken Enchiladas, Marinara Chicken, etc. (And you’re not limited to just dinner recipes, we also enjoy freezing our Egg Muffins, pancakes and waffles, baked goods, and even sandwiches! This makes breakfasts, snacks, and lunches easy, too!!)
A Mom Who Saves Time, is a Happy Mom
There you have it! With all the time you’ll be saving, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite Jolly Llama Sorbet Cream Pop while spending quality time with your kids.
What mealtime hacks have you found to be the most useful?