If you are reading this, I am feeling your pain. The nights and nights (and nights) of meal preparation are endless aren't they? How do you keep it real? How do you give them healthy food without breaking the bank? How do you feed them food they will happily eat? How do you block out all the messages you get from every angle about good, bad, gluten, allergies, meat, vegetarian, saving money, healthy eating, energy, life? I think I had it simpler to be honest. Rest assured they will get through it and so will you. One day, you won't be making these decisions day after day. At least not for anyone but yourself. So take my top tips on board, or not. I think you can tweak these to fit your own situation. You'll never get judgement from me. I know you are doing your best. (And I am all about food positivity! No guilt!)
Double Duty dinners are the best way to cut down on extra time in the kitchen:
Make sure you cook plenty of protein on night one, then re-purpose the left overs on night two!
For example, meal one; Roast a chicken, with all the trimmings and eat it!
Meal two; Shred the left over chicken and make a salad to serve with flat bread (think tortillas, tacos, or quesadillas, or even use the chicken to make a pizza.)
The Slow Cooker is your best friend!
Literally throwing a bunch of ingredients into a slow cooker in the morning as you race out the door is the friendliest mum tip there is! There are loads of recipes out there, but to be honest, if you have minced beef, onion, garlic, tinned tomatoes, seasoning and any veggies that are lurking in the bottom of your fridge, you are ready without a recipe to serve that over pasta, in a pie, as a bowlful of steamy hot goodness with hot toast, mashed or baked potato or cauliflower, rice. (Potentially for more than one night!) You’re welcome!
Shop for your pantry stuff online on the weekend:
There is nothing more time consuming than running in and out of the shop for this or that with a car full of kids who suddenly all develop intense need for chips, lollies, baked goods that cost you money and patience and are not good for the little darlings!
Spend the time to make a plan of pantry staples, like dry goods, tinned goods and items you use every day like salts and seasonings etc. Purchase these as well as paper towels, cleaning products etc online, to be delivered straight to your door with no hassle and no kids in tow!
Even if you pay slightly more than the local specials, the energy and time you save will pay you back ten fold!
Meatless Monday is a thing;
And it will save you money! Vegetable based meals are amongst the cheapest you can make as well as being nutrient dense. Make sure you include some heavy duty veggies, like eggplant and mushrooms to keep everyone feeling full and satisfied. It is good for everyone, your gut will thank you and so will the planet, let alone your wallet.
‘Gourmet’ Pantry Night:
Cook only from your pantry one night a week. Come on, dig around back there and you are sure to find a tin of tuna or two, a bag of pasta, tinned beans and perhaps even something decadent like truffle salt, bought on a whim a long time ago. Get creative, put them all together for something you tell the kids is gourmet and guaranteed delicious! The kids will love it, you save money whilst using what you already have before it expires with the added benefit of knowing what you need to add to that weekend online shopping list.
Use your freezer:
Don’t let the bread lie around getting stale as you are staying off carbs (mostly). Freeze sliced bread and thaw out per slice on demand. Always fresh!
Freeze your greens. Kale or spinach on special? Rinse and dry, chop them down and freeze in bags. Whenever you need them, they are good to put straight into the dish or choice of boiling water for a quick blanche before serving. Time and money saver!
As you go through your week and you have random odds and ends in the leftover department, add them to a large freezer bag that you keep in the freezer at all times, and at the end of a week or two you have the perfect makings of a fantastic pot of soup or the base for a fabulous jus or gravy. (Just don’t forget to use them!)
Breakfast for Dinner:
As a mum of five kids, there were nights when piano practice, basketball training, dancing, homework, teacher/parent interviews, or any number of other events interfered with my normal routine. On occasions such as these we would sometimes have breakfast for dinner. My kids loved it and of course, it is very cheap to whip up a batch of pancakes, a big old pot of porridge or toast with eggs. French Toast was never a fail. It was like dessert for dinner.
They weren’t opposed to a massive bowl of cold cereal either, so ease up on your self. Five pm and nothing happening? Breakfast is served! Come and get it. https://tenina.com/recipes/cardamom-blueberry-frenchtoast