Cooking for kids is hard, and cooking for the whole family when you have a full time job might sound like an impossible feat. But according to Reader’s Digest and a slew of mommy bloggers from Canada, it doesn’t have to be traumatic or stressful. The key lies in learning how to cook with your heart. Instead of struggling to juggle and multitask, planning recipes ahead of time and being flexible, creative, and innovative. Here are some effective tips for working moms that need a helping hand in juggling work and cooking while planning and executing their weekly meal plans.
1. Keeping a well-stocked pantry with foods you approve of!
This might seem like a no-brainer, but too often, we stock our pantry with snacks and cookies because they are easy, or so we think. Having carrots and pre-made hummus can be as convenient, plus it’s much healthier. When you’re out shopping, throw out that tub of ice cream and opt for a healthier option instead. There are so many other things you should be getting such as high-protein foods and high-fiber weight loss pasta that taste equally great and can help you stay fit and healthy. When you eliminate junk from your pantry, you won’t be tempted to snack on them.
Having a well-stocked pantry also means that you can whip up just about anything. But don’t fret if there is something missing from the recipe that you’ve just found off Pinterest. Another thing that moms are great at is improvising.
2. Make way for improvisation in your cooking!
Don’t have carrots? Use potatoes. No honey? Substitute with applesauce. There are a million and one ways to make a dish and just because the recipe you found needs a certain ingredient that you don’t have, you can use an ingredient substitution guide or omit the ingredient entirely. It’s not going to ruin the recipe and no one is going to know. It’ll also save you a trip to the supermarket for a grocery run.
3. Don’t hold back and cook large batches!
Of course, it definitely helps to plan ahead. If you’re going to have meatballs for dinner, why not make a large batch and use it in a casserole for tomorrow’s lunch or in a wrap for breakfast? When you plan your meals in advance, you’ll be able to better prepare for the impending meals; however, if you can’t be bothered to plan, simply make large batches of everything and make use of the leftovers. If you don’t feel like having the same thing over the next few meals, you can freeze it for later in the week. This is especially time-saving if you are feeling tired and don’t feel like cooking because you can just thaw and heat it for a meal. If you have kids who are old enough to work the oven or microwave, you can be sure they won’t starve or consume any of that nasty frozen tv dinners.
4. A one-pot meal is just as good!
When you’re low on supplies and nearing your next visit to the grocers, you can just chuck everything into a pot and call it a day. Chilis and stew keep rather well (you’ll find they gain more flavor the longer you keep them) and are a healthy alternative to tv dinners. It’s the perfect low-effort meal because you will have less dishes to clean and a good meal for the rest of the week.
5. Get your family involved in the cooking!
It’s the 21st century, you don’t have to slave away in the kitchens just because you’re the mom. You can make Sunday takeout day or better yet, get the whole family in on it and help with planning and preparing meals for the rest of the week. If you have older children, they can be in charge of cooking dinner or breakfast once a week. Not only does this help build their confidence in the kitchen, it will also teach them valuable life skills such as how not to burn the kitchen down. If your children are younger, you can also involve them with some age-appropriate activities.
6. Moms don’t always need to cook the best meals!
This might be a little controversial, but having pancakes for dinner is entirely valid. Don’t pressure yourself into being the perfect mom who is always cooking the best meals for their families. Cooking shouldn’t be a chore or a source of stress. If it’s getting too much, you can always take a backseat and order takeout instead. Go gentle on yourself, moms.
These are just some of the tips that mothers do when they are determined to put home cooked food on the table, but cooking isn’t a necessity. Too often do mothers feel that they have a checklist of things they need to fulfill in order to be the “perfect mother”. But the truth is, a happy mom is much more important in raising a healthy family.