As a working mother, it is often difficult to find the time to cook delicious, healthy meals for your family. You don't want your children to live off unhealthy prepackaged foods and take off, but some days you just don't have the time or energy to cook. Here are some ways to cook healthy meals for your family even on the busiest of days.
Plan what your family is going to eat ahead of time. This will also help streamline your grocery shopping trips, since you'll know exactly what you need for the week. By planning ahead, you can schedule faster meals on the days where you have less time to cook, and lengthier recipes for when you have more time. This will help you avoid eating out several nights in a row or relying on unhealthy prepacked foods.
Making the same meal over and over again can get tiresome. Keep dinner interesting for you and your kids by finding new recipes to try out. You can use a recipe book or simply look up recipes online while you're doing your meal planning. Trying out one or two new recipes per week will make meal preparation more fun and keep your standard meals from becoming overused.
Get a Slow Cooker
If you plan out your meals, you can get working on dinner before you even leave for work. A crockpot, or slow cooker is a great resource that every busy mom needs. With a slow cooker, you can throw the ingredients in before you leave for work, and when you get home, you'll have a meal ready to go. Most crockpots come with a warm setting so you can keep the food fresh until it's time to eat. Slow cookers are designed not to overheat, so you don't have to worry about them starting a fire like you would if you left the stove or oven on all day. While the actually cooking process is longer, you don't have to spend as much time in the kitchen, saving yourself time in the long run. If you get a larger model, you can also make enough for leftovers later in the week.
Make Frozen Meals
Store bought frozen meals are often full of sodium or made with sub par ingredients, but you can make your own frozen meals. Over the weekend or whenever you have time, make your own meals and then freeze them until it's time to eat. This is a great way to have healthy meals on hand. This is also an easy way to utilize leftovers from your crockpot. Simply seal food up in a container and freeze until use. Do make sure to seal your food completely to avoid freezer burn. Frozen food can keep for a long time, so it's fine to make all of your meals for the week over the weekend if you have no time to cook during the week.
Pack Lunches Early
Give yourself more time in the mornings by packing your children's lunches the night before. You can even let your kids pick out their own snacks. With prepacked lunches, you'll have one less thing to worry about during hectic mornings when you're trying to get your kids to school on time.
On the busiest days, leftovers are a great option. They just need to be heated up and they're ready to go. Or, you can reuse leftovers from one meal as part of another. When doing your meal planning for the week, select recipes that use the same ingredients or that will keep well for several days in the fridge. Split up the larger meals throughout the week so you can use leftovers to supplement on other nights.
Jane Adams is a passionate writer from London. She loves to write about marketing strategies and regional languages. Currently, she works for Localdig a company based in London, UK.