It is a truth universally acknowledged that moms are busy. No pride or prejudice about it. No matter your employment status or physical location, “working” mom or “stay-at-home” mom, every mom has a lot to juggle. A major item to tackle – dinner. Every night there are hungry people, and it’s usually mom’s job to solve that!
With just a few shortcuts, dinner can be on the table easier and faster than ever. Save your health and your wallet by skipping the drive-thru or take-out. A little planning and efficiency can minimize the frazzle of mealtime.
Some people say “I’m too busy to meal plan,” when it’s really the opposite! You’re too busy to NOT meal plan. It may take a little time and work on the front end, but it saves so much time, sanity, and money in the big picture. I started planning a week in advance and now do a month at a time. The evening witching hour will be much easier with a dinner plan and the ingredients ready instead of wondering at 5:30 p.m. what’s edible.
Buy pre-chopped produce when it’s a real time-saver
For me, buying the cubed butternut squash at Costco saves my time and sanity. A whole squash practically takes a machete to get into! Plus, the time I save is well worth it for the small extra cost. Frozen diced garlic is also one of my new favorite things.
If you have an average-sized family and small children, you will probably have leftovers on a regular basis. Use this to your advantage! By rolling over items, you’re giving yourself a head start on the next meal. Turn a pork roast into pulled pork sandwiches. Turn mashed potatoes into potato soup. Throw veggies in with scrambled eggs. Food waste is huge issue in the US, so be creative to avoid waste and save yourself some time!
Cook common items in bulk
When chicken breasts go on sale, throw several pounds in the slow cooker or pressure cooker to make a large batch of shredded chicken. Divide into portions and freeze. Pull out for soups, pasta, tacos, casseroles, nachos, stuffed peppers, taquitos, BBQ sandwiches… ready at your fingertips for endless possibilities. Beans and ground beef are other menu staples that can be cooked in bulk for faster weeknight meals.
Command your appliances
Your slow cooker, your instant pot, your toaster oven, your deep freeze, and your microwave can all help save time when it comes to dinner prep. If you’re going to have a busy evening, throw the meal in the slow cooker in the morning. If you need to cook a couple things at different temperatures, use your toaster oven as well as your oven. Use the tools strategically.
Put kids to work
This is hard to imagine as a time-saver when there are toddlers and preschoolers who require a lot of assistance and intervention in the kitchen. And the mess! Cringe! But, a little training when they’re young will pay off big time even when they’re in the elementary years. A sous chef is a major asset when you want to get food on the table fast. My second grader is a huge help.
I totally got this from Rachael Ray. When baking or chopping veggies, I put a bowl on the counter for egg shells, wrappers, produce peelings, etc, to save me from making multiple trips back and forth to the trash can. I can stand and work more productively then empty the bowl when the meal prep is finished.
By just tweaking your routine a bit, you could make dinner prep healthier and more efficient. And when mom is happier, the whole family wins!