Cooking Hacks Every Working Mom & Dad Should Know
Cooking Hacks for Working Moms and Dads
Often times there is one parent that does the everyday, simple healthy, nutritious cooking. The parent, either mom or dad, who plans the shopping list and weekly grocery expenditure then works meals around that.
The other parent might be responsible for doing the weekend cooking, the fun brunches, naughty treats and delicious meals that get overlooked during the week because they’re either too expensive to make all the time or require more time and effort to prepare.
During the week, time is at a premium for many busy working parents. There’s so much to juggle. Day to day working commitments, childcare, keeping up with school events and evening activities. It’s no wonder that for some, convenience foods and ready meals make up the backbone of the weekday diet – with many moms and dads feeling guilty because they simply ran out of time to shop, or just had to get whatever was cheapest and quickest.
On top of that, factoring in kitchen time when you might have a fractious baby or toddler demanding your time and energy can sometimes feel like it’s way too much to cope with. When your patience and tolerance are on a knife edge it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of temporarily satiating your child with sugary snacks and drinks.
Having all these issues to cope with shouldn’t mean that you can’t spend any time in the kitchen at all but knowing a few canny hacks and work-arounds can save you time, money and sanity. Here are just a few cooking hacks for working moms and dads, who’d rather be spending time with the family, than hours in the kitchen.
The TV is Your Friend
Many parents worry about the effect of too much television and gaming on their children, but in the case of prepping for meals, it can be your ‘hands free’ time.
Once it gets to 5.30pm and you know the children will be clamoring for sustenance, make this their chill out time, and allow them to watch a favorite TV show with a healthy drink.
Kids will feel they are being allowed a treat, and you’ll get some quiet time to cook and do what you need to do without interruption.
Use Kitchen Equipment Hacks to Limit Meal Prep Time
You might not think it possible to make a meal in under an hour, but you can cheat a little and use a few crafty kitchen equipment hacks to help you on your way. For instance, using a food processor to chop veggies as a base for a soup, stew or stir fry can save time and patience. Likewise, having a good stash of frozen veggies and fruits to hand can make prepping meals a lot easier.
Love rice? Invest in a rice maker and you can put a set weight of rice and water into its main bowl, leave it to cook and it will happily sit and wait until you’re ready to eat it.
Forgotten to cook rice or pasta? A pressure cooker can be a boon, meaning that in a few minutes a steaming bowl of satiating carbs, to couple with some protein and veggies, can be on the table, and no-one needs to know you didn’t spend hours stirring and slaving.
Make a List of Family Favorites
Compile a list of weekday meals that have gone down well in the past and are quick to prepare and put them on rotation, so they are eaten regularly, but not so often that they become tiresome.
That’s just not practical for many moms and dads who are juggling too many responsibilities. Make a master shopping list of the main ingredients needed for your family favorites, and also the basic every day staples to accompany them.
Stick to this and do the family shop once a week. Make one day,a treat day, to try a new recipe or a delicious treat to keep everyone happy, but other than that stick to staple foods.
Remember, it is NOT a fail to serve frozen pizza every now and again or order a take out if you’re just too tired. But long term, it’s cheaper to plan in advance and buy what you need to make the few simple meals your family will love.
Invest in a Crock Pot/Slow Cooker
The crock pot and the slow cooker are your friends and can create delicious, healthy, low fat meals that are cooked to perfection. There is nothing nicer than walking in through the front door with the wonderful smell of home cooking to greet you.
A crock pot/slow cooker can simply be used to throw together a few ingredients, switched to its lowest or highest setting, depending on how much time you have, and left to simmer. That leaves you free to get on with other things.
Make Fruits and Veggies Easily Accessible and Be a Savvy Saver
Sometimes, parents worry their children aren’t getting enough fresh stuff, especially if they’re relying on frozen foods and ready meals to serve. Often, there can also be worries about fresh fruit and veg being too expensive, or there being a lot of wastage.
Invest in some food storage containers and ‘food saver’ bags to keep in your cupboards and fridge. These will keep fresh fruits and veggies visible and will mean that if you only need a couple of carrots, or half an onion for a meal, the remains can be stashed away to be used another day, without worry they will have gone off.
Keep some fresh fruit and veggies out on your counter top if possible, perhaps the ones you know and love and will use every day. Remember, using frozen fruits and veggies for speed is handy and can often save time too, so do bear these in mind when money and time are tight.
Batch Cook and Use Leftovers
If there’s a family meal you know your kids will eat till they’re fit to burst, batch cook it so there’s always a stash of it in your freezer for emergency purposes. This is a super tip for things like Bolognese, lasagna, curry or stew. You’re only a thaw away from a quick, nutritious meal that simply needs some accompaniment to go with it.
If you know you have a busy time coming up, for example if you are out two nights in a row and won’t have time to cook, make one of the nights a leftovers night. Make a bigger batch of whatever you’re eating the night before and plan it as a quick reheat the next day, with some different veggies and carbs to go with it.
Simple Serving Hacks…
A simple hack to make sure food is on the plates, in the right sizes for your kids to eat without fear of choking is to use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut everything up. Snipping a burger, or a piece of meat, into small chunks in this way is a lot easier than trying to do it with a knife and can cut serving time by half.
This is a really handy hack if you have small children who are starting to feed themselves and become more independent.
Stop the Dinner Time Battleground and Make It a Routine
Finding the family meals that everyone loves and making them part of your everyday repertoire is one way to ensure that kids are less likely to complain about their food and eat everything up.
It’s important that you make it clear that the food on offer is what everyone is eating and that you can’t offer anything else. You can find printable mealtime routine cards that can be used every day, to help your kids get ready for dinner without needing to nag or remind them. They will learn how to properly prepare for meal times, to wash their hands and sit at the table in the right way. Parents can offer occasional treats and rewards for every week that this plan is followed without disruption and kids will soon start to learn that family mealtimes can be a grown up experience for them too – and what kid doesn’t love to feel like they’re being treated like one of the adults!
What do you think? Do you have any ideas of your own to add? Cooking hacks for busy working moms and dads can offer a real sense of freedom and the feeling of not being tied to the kitchen. With a little simple planning and forethought, it can be easy to conjure up delicious meals and treats that the whole family will love, without worry, stress or hassle.