We’re all busy in our own way. My way is work, four teenagers who play sports, and a husband who coaches, so on any given weeknight, I may be in a neighboring county, or beyond, when you factor in pre-season tournaments. This presents a problem when it comes to meal preparation.
Since I work from home, on most days, I can make adjustments (work at night or weekends or early morning) in order to be where I need to be, including the kitchen. I can even work from a deck overlooking a lake, or poolside with an umbrella drink next to me (hint, hint).
Regardless of what kind of job you have, getting dinner on the table when you are a busy parent is no easy task, but it’s not impossible. I also cook from scratch as much as possible. I don’t hit a “from scratch” home run every day, but I do most days. Cooking from scratch is a genetic disorder, but the good news is that food tastes better and is better for you. Cooking is like anything else: The more you do it, the better you get. Here’s a few tips on how to pull off quick, homemade meals that your family will appreciate.
1 – Meal plan.
Sit down with a glass of wine or a beer on Sunday afternoon and make a plan for the week’s meals. When I do this, I save money, and my weeks are free of unnecessary mealtime stress, freeing up valuable hard drive space in my brain for even more teenager nonsense. Look at your calendar and see what the week has on it for you and your family. Choose a meal for each night that makes sense with that day or evening’s commitments, and right next to it, list the ingredients you need to buy in order to make it. Don’t forget side dishes.
2 – Execute the meal plan: Go shopping.
After you meal plan, you’ve got to execute. Do not make it your plan to go to the grocery store every day or even every other. I’ve tried this non-plan; it results in takeout, or an expensive meal from the grocery store deli. Get everything on the list.
3 – Prep meals in the morning or the night before.
Try to get some meal prep done earlier in the day or even the night before if you’ve got the energy. Example: While my husband is making PB&J sandwiches, I might be sleeping, or I might be chopping and sautéing onions and garlic and putting a meatloaf together, making mashed potatoes (easy to reheat later) or browning a pot roast and cutting up veggies. (Don’t underestimate the power of throwing a large piece of meat, veggies, herbs, salt and pepper, and some beef or chicken stock into a Dutch oven and tossing it into the oven. Cook low and slow and you’ll have a delicious meal on your table that you don’t have to sit around babysitting all day. Strain the remaining broth, add a little red or white wine and some butter and cook it down to a reduced, slightly syrupy consistency and pour it all over your spouse, I mean the roast. Enjoy.)
Next time: Family favorites from my “Easy, fast and delicious” repertoire! Have a time-saving idea of your own? Leave a comment!
Photo by Lisa Lucke – All Rights Reserved