Hello friends. I’m guessing many of us are in the same boat when it comes to the constant juggle of work-life balance. More importantly, making sure our families are fed wholesome foods to keep everyone healthy and happy. If you are like me, you work all day and then when four o’clock rolls around I go into “what’s for dinner?” mode. I then proceed to kick myself for not spending time over the weekend planning and prepping to make weeknight dinners easy and relatively quick.
Here are four dinnertime shortcuts for all of us busy working moms out there. I’m sure there are so many others but if we can conquer these, together we are moving in the right direction.
Tip 1: Plan & Prep
I know you’ve probably heard this before but planning out a week’s worth of dinners ahead of time will make mealtime less stressful. I like to do this on Sundays by sitting down, flipping through some of my favorite magazines and cookbooks and also hopping on Pinterest for seasonal meal inspiration. The Heinen’s website and blog are also chock-full of ideas.
I try and break up the week with one slow cooker meal (typically for Mondays,) one super-easy night, one meal that stretches my cooking abilities and then one meal that I know will be a family favorite. To make meal prepping even easier I’ve been LOVING using the new Instacart phone app to make my shopping list. Then I schedule our grocery delivery for Sunday afternoon just in time for Sunday evening prep. Having our groceries delivered has saved our weekends for more family time, less errand running and, honestly, less impulse shopping. Once the groceries are delivered, I like to clean, chop and sometimes roast all of my recipe ingredients. While this is often the time-consuming part, I promise it will make weeknight cooking easy-breezy.
Tip 2: Freezer Meal Fun
Technically making freezer meals ahead of time is the same as “prepping” but to me, this is almost like super-prepping. The best thing is to make a few meals and freeze them weeks ahead for a super-easy weeknight dinner. Some of our go-to freezer meals are veggie lasagna, pesto chicken breasts, and my personal favorite: quiche of any flavor. We actually have a second freezer in our garage and every now and then I go on a bender, filling it up with all sorts of make-ahead meals. Besides eating them all ourselves, these frozen, handmade dinners make great gifts for new parents, elderly relatives and for another busy mom who you care about. Make time next month to make a few freezer meals ahead of time. You won’t regret it.
Tip 3: Short Cuts are our Friends
Whether you love your slow cooker for the perfect pulled pork make-ahead meal, or you like the idea of picking up grocery store prepared entrees and sides for an easy meal, there is NOTHING wrong with having a few shortcuts up our sleeves. Like I mentioned in Tip #1, I love using our slow cooker on Mondays. I always know Mondays are a bit more hectic than other weekday evenings. Whether I have a board meeting or I need to work later it is always great to walk in the door and have the scent of a home-cooked meal welcome you home. We working moms have to stick together, so just know there is NOTHING wrong with indulging in the convenience of pre-made meatballs, some fresh herb pasta and a jar of sauce, and voila! — dinner is served. Be kind to yourselves: You are no less of a mom, spouse, roommate or friend if dinner is not 100% made from scratch. The celebration is that there IS dinner and you also worked all day. Now go give yourself a pat on the back.
Tip 4: Frozen foods and Takeout
Sometimes planning for a little dinnertime “support” will make your evening routines much more smooth. What I mean is, if you find you are getting home late, you have some must-do housework, you need to help with the science fair project, etc. you might not feel like making a complete dinner from scratch. Enter support. There are so many great ways to make a frozen food option more of a family meal: Just add a bowl of soup or side salad and your family might not even catch on that the main dish was frozen. You can also do what I do and swing by your favorite grocery store for a prepared takeout meal.
I hope these four tips give you the confidence to go forward and reduce weeknight meal-making stress. Did I miss one of your best tips? Please share them with us. Remember — we working moms need to stick together, for us and for our families’ health.