For a long time the stereotype had been that the dad goes out and makes the money while the mom stays home to cook, clean, and take care of the kids. A lot of mothers are still OK with being a stay-at-home parent, but others want to have a job and a career alongside their motherly duties. Also there are the mothers who have to find a place of work because they have recently become single parents.
Whatever the reason is, trying to work and take care of your family at the same time can be a strenuous task.
Say it’s been a long, hard day at work. Your body and mind are overworked and you are getting home late. The last thing you want to do is go home and cook a big meal for your family. But you also don’t want to eat frozen dinners or fast food every meal.
It can be tough to be a working mom. Making meals for your family can be overwhelming, especially when you have a tough job or work long hours.
Here are some tips to help working moms make great meals for their families!
- Invest in a crock pot. Crock pots are a great way to make a quick, healthy meal. Before you leave for work, you can just throw all of the ingredients into the crock pot and set it for the amount of time you will be gone. The crock pot will do all the cooking for you! This is great for soups or chilies. It is also great to cook something and then put it over rice or noodles. With crock pots, the possibilities are endless. Crock pots also hold a lot of food, so you can either cook for a lot of people or you can make enough for leftovers—two meals in one! You will definitely get your money’s worth out of a crock pot, so go ahead and invest in one to make your weekly dinners easier! (Read: 12 Kitchen Gadgets that Make Life Easier)
- Plan ahead. Planning ahead is key for a busy mom, otherwise you find yourself without any ideas for meals by the middle of the week. The first step is to figure out how many meals you will be making that week. Next, you need to make a list of all the ingredients that you will need for those meals (when choosing your meals, try to choose meals that require similar ingredients). Once you have made your plans, go ahead and prep all of your ingredients. So if you have recipes that require a lot of chopping, go ahead and chop up those ingredients and then store them appropriately. This is very beneficial because then when it comes time to cook the meals, you will just have to throw everything together—you will have eliminated all of your prep time for the day of.
- Freezer bag meals. One of the best-kept secrets in the world is freezer bag meals. These are so easy to prepare at the beginning of the weak and so easy to cook. Freezer bag meals are perfect for the crock pot. They are great because you can buy in bulk, prep everything at the same time, and end up with meals that will last a long time. They are also usually more healthy than your standard frozen boxed dinner. Just be sure to seal them well so they won’t get freezer burn.
- Collect recipes. Have you ever been at the grocery store, waiting in line, flipping through the magazines, and come across a mouth watering recipe? The next thing you know, you have yourself convinced that you will definitely remember it and try it out when you get home. However, you always forget. You never remember that amazing recipe that you found. Start a recipe collection to avoid this travesty. This is particularly easy to do if you have any type of smart phone because you can use your notes section or you can just take pictures. A recipe collection is great because then you won’t get sick of having the same thing every week. Be sure to keep all your recipes in the same place so that when you are preparing for your meals for the week, you won’t have to search for them!
- Get creative with leftovers. This is one of the more strategic parts of cooking on a tight schedule. When you are planning your meals, try to plan for things that will make good leftovers. If you plan it right, you can use your leftovers to create new meals—your kids won’t even know! Leftovers can save so much time and money. If you can learn to strategize well, leftovers can be your best friend.
- Be strategic. When choosing meals, be strategic. It is best to choose meals that have similar ingredients. The ingredients are not the only things that you can be strategic about. You can also be strategic with the order that you choose to prepare meals in. If you have a couple of really big meals, spread them out throughout the week. Then you can use the leftovers from those meals for other meals. Also, be aware of when you will have the most time to prepare meals. That way, you won’t find yourself in a bind because of lack of time.
- “Breakfast for dinner”. Breakfast for dinner is a huge hit for kids—and it is super easy to pull off! This is something that could either be done once a week, or on special occasions. This could also be done if you ever get in a bind. There are many ways that you can pull this off in healthy ways—that way you won’t even have to feel guilty about it! You can use omelets as a vessel for vegetables that kids would normally hate. Breakfast for dinner is a great treat—even for the cook!
- Pack lunches the night before. As a working mom, you will want to get any extra sleep that you possibly can. Therefore, one of things you can do to save time in the morning is pack lunches the night before. This is something you can do with your kids. Have them choose from different snacks that have been mom-approved so that you can focus on the main entrée in the lunch. This is a great habit to get into because it can really save some time in the long run.
- Meal exchanges with other moms. It really does take a village to raise a child, or in this case, to feed one. This can be great for moms that are able to make at least one meal a week but might not be able to make multiple meals a week. Partner up with some other busy moms and trade off meals once or twice a week. This is also a good opportunity to use leftovers creatively. These kinds of partnerships can take a lot of the pressure off of a busy mom, so remember that it is okay to ask for help!