8 meal hacks for busy parents
Everybody wants to provide the best possible diet for their kids, but if you had known in advance that they’d require feeding three times a day plus snacks for about 18 years, would you still have signed up for the gig?
Food preparation can feel like Ground Hog day but having a couple of food hacks under you belt can help make your life easier, and get healthy and delicious food on the table with minimal fuss/effort and tears (yours).
1. Meal plan
You may think meal planning is creating more work for yourself but it can help you to know exactly what you need to shop for and exactly what you’re cooking each day. It helps take some of the thinking out of the process, which automatically helps you feel less stressed.
You may also find you have less food wastage, and therefore you may save money. Everyone loves saving money.
2. Shop once a week
The joy of the meal plan is having a succinct shopping list with everything you need for the week. No more squeezing a supermarket dash into your already hectic schedule.
Carting kids to the supermarket automatically makes the trip take (or at least feel) twice as long, making it twice as painful and if you bought them everything they whined for it could also cost twice as much.
3. Batch cook
You’re standing at the stove anyway, so why not make a double or even triple batch of whatever it is? Cook once, feed as many times as you can.
Things like soups, stews and pasta sauces freeze beautifully and they will be there ready for the days when you need a little helping hand.
4. Weekend en masse bake
If you’re already in the kitchen you may as well have a solid hour of whipping up snacks for the week. Homemade means you control what’s in them and they’re much more affordable than bought snacks.
Whipping up a batch of muffins, or banana bread, on a Sunday and sticking them in the freezer is perfect for the week-day lunchbox.
5. Have a list of 10-minute favourites
Cooking meals that require time and effort is all very well on occasion, but most of the time we just need to eat delicious and nutritious foods.
Get a list of five things in your repertoire that can be made in 10 minutes flat and call on those on the days you lose the will to feed.
Green pesto pasta (you can substitute gluten-free pasta if necessary or zoodles - zucchini noodles) with a tin of tuna, or Mexican quesadillas are two great options for fast a tasty weekday meals.
6. Prepare lunch boxes the night before
Mornings can be bedlam. There are shoes to find, ‘dreadlocks’ to wrestle, and missing home readers to rummage for. Grabbing pre-made lunch boxes from the fridge and chucking them straight into school bags is one less job to worry about - meaning you can get out the door that bit closer to on time.
7. Blitz the greens
If you struggle to get your kids to eat vegetables, making a monster batch of green vegetable pesto is a brilliant way to use up the greens in the crisper and sneak them into food in a delicious way.
You can use the pesto as a sauce on chicken and fish, use it on pasta, spread it on sandwiches or toss it through a muffin mix for savoury muffins.
8. Teach your kids one meal they can prepare
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This is a long game and your kid(s) need to be of an age where it is safe for them to be in the kitchen (supervised of course!), but if you teach your children one meal to cook they will be able to not only cook for you once a week, but they will also be gaining important life skills.
Who knows, they may even develop a passion for food and you may never need to cook again!