Getting healthy meals on the table with the kids running or crawling around can be a bit of a challenge. So, let’s talk about some mum hacks and tricks that you can use in the kitchen to help get those meals on the table and maybe even save you a little bit of time and money in the process as well.
Keep a well-stocked freezer and pantry
Having a well-stocked freezer and pantry means that you already have dinner in the house, even if you aren’t sure what it is just yet. Frozen vegetables and fruits are picked at the height of freshness and then flash frozen. That means that they are every bit as nutritious as fresh produce AND you don’t have to worry about them spoiling in your fridge or on the counter.
Having bags of frozen vegetables, and vegetable mixtures means that you have side dishes ready to go in minutes, veggies that you can throw on a pan with some meat in the oven, or pop in a skillet for a stir fry. Having frozen meats on hand means that you don’t have to run to the store as often, especially if you have a multi cooker or slow cooker.
A well-stocked pantry is also a must-have when it comes to getting dinner on the table in a flash. You should keep a variety of pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes and beans, gravy mixes, and the spices your family uses most often.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be super elaborate or time-consuming, but taking a little time to plan your meals for the week can save you time throughout the week and you will already know what’s for dinner. Having your meals planned out can also save you time and money at the grocery store. You know exactly what you need for the week ahead and you won’t end up buying things that you don’t need that may spoil because you didn’t use them in time.
Many busy mum’s find it helpful to keep a binder in the kitchen with their meal plans and recipes. If you have five to six week’s worth of meal plans, you can easily rotate back through them and have plenty of variety. You can find many examples of meal plan templates available for free online that you can use to stay organized.
Kitchen gadgets can make getting dinner on the table a breeze. Slow cookers, multi cookers or multi-cookers, and air fryers can help you get dinner cooked with minimal effort from you. Slow cookers are great because you can just pop some meat, a few vegetables and some rice in it and at the end of a busy day dinner is cooked and the house smells delicious.
Instapots or multi-cookers are wonderful gadgets to have in your kitchen you can cook rice, saute vegetables, make yogurt, or even have frozen meat cooked in a matter of minutes. Air fryers are another handy gadget to have in your kitchen. They can be used to cook “fry” vegetables and meats quickly and healthily.
When you get home from the grocery store, or after your groceries have been delivered go ahead and prep your fruits and vegetables for the week. Do yourself a favour and get some quality, airtight, glass bowls. These will keep your cut up veggies fresher for longer, and you will be able to easily see what is inside them.
When you are ready to cook whatever meal requires your pre-prepared veggies you can just pull them out and toss them in your pan. If you use a lot of cut-up vegetables like diced onions, bell peppers, or celery, it may be worthwhile to get a quality food processor to save yourself some time.
Consider Grocery Delivery
If you have a really busy week ahead, you might consider having your groceries delivered for the week to save yourself a little time. Check your meal plan for the week, order your groceries, and then you have a chance to get ahead on something else for the week, like laundry while you wait for them to be delivered.
Cook Once, Eat Twice or More
Instead of cooking every night cook a big batch of meat, rice etc. and work it into several meals for the week ahead. For example, cook a large pork loin or roast and shred it. This can now become BBQ sandwiches, shredded pork taco’s, and shredded pork and gravy over rice. Cooking enough meat to make several different meals will save you time later in the week, and as you can see it doesn’t have to be the same meal over and over.
Next time you are making one of your family’s favourite meals, don’t make just enough for dinner, go ahead and double the recipe. That way you will have dinner and a second batch that you can put in the freezer. That way the next time you have a busy day or you just don’t feel like cooking you can pull a meal your family will love straight out of the freezer.
A slow cooker is a great way to easily make big batches of your favourite meals!
Cook for the Week
Some busy mums choose to do all of their cooking for the week in one day. They may choose to do their cooking for the week on the weekends while someone else keeps an eye on the kids. Roast a chicken (or buy one), use your instapot for a big batch of rice, throw some dried beans in your slow cooker, and roast some veggies in the oven. This will give you several different cooked items to work with that you can mix and match into several different hearty meals.
Getting dinner on the table each night doesn’t have to be a struggle. Try some or all of these tips in your kitchen and see if they work for you and your family. Do you have any cooking hacks for busy mum’s that you would add?