As a parent, one of your ongoing chores is to fill hungry bellies. The kids have got to eat, but at the end of a trying day, cooking might be the last thing you feel like doing. Whether you work outside the home or not, if you are a parent, you are busy and tired.
Exhaustion can contribute to one too many takeaway dinners that you did not initially plan. If these last minute desperation moves are emptying your bank account and filling your tummies with rubbish, then try these tips for making suppertime a little easier.
Before you do anything else, you need to whet your appetite. Everyone knows that part of the appeal of takeaway dinners is their perceived superiority in flavor. If you want to cook more of your meals at home, then you need to make them just as delicious as something you could buy, if not more so. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to access culinary inspiration.
Hampton Creek, the rapidly growing food tech startup company, puts the inspiration right in your hands by publishing lots of videos about how to make scrumptious dishes using their foods. They have no shortage of either products or ideas of how to use them. After you watch Asian noodle dishes, healthy avocado dips, and glorious sandwiches appear before your very eyes, you will want nothing more than to go to the grocery shop, stock up on these versatile ingredients, and get to cooking. Speaking of the grocery shop, that ties in to the next point….
Do you find your food shopping trips a bit frazzling? Do you end up with way too much in your trolley with no clear idea of how you are going to use it? Well, stop that. Stop it right now. Planning all of your meals before you go shopping is the easiest way to avoid suppertime panic that results in ordering out. Take a few moments to think through your schedule for the coming days. That way, you will know which nights you need easy meals and which nights you can take a little extra time to prepare the courses.
Once you get home from shopping, do what you can to make food prep easier for the days ahead. This might mean baking all your chicken now so it will be ready to toss into a variety of meals. It might mean stockpiling rice to be reheated with each supper. As long as you are using safe food practices, doing some of your preparation ahead of time is a simple way to make your job easier when suppertime approaches.
Occupy the Kids
Every parent knows that sometimes one of the biggest impediments to feeding the kids is, well, the kids. Your children want and need your attention, and sometimes that need is greatest when they are feeling very hungry. Understandably, this sometimes results in arguments, and other times results in dinner not getting made on time.
If this happens you now, take a proactive approach to prevention. Get the kids coloring or playing a game at the kitchen table. That way, you can chat with them while you go about your business. For babies and toddlers who are too young for that sort of thing, you can set up a special cabinet of toys just for them, or look at this list of other ideas for keeping littles cheerful while you are busy. Be sure to engage even with these tiny ones as you cook, whether by singing songs or by narrating what you are doing.
Once your children are old enough, you can invite them to join you in making the meal. This turns cooking into an enjoyable ritual that you will be reluctant to miss out on even when you are busy. As your children improve in their abilities, their help will even speed up the job. You can prepare the main course while they tackle the side dishes, then have extra time for fun before bed.
Simplify Your Evenings
Simplifying supper time is a great way to make your evenings less stressful. By getting excited about cooking and planning ahead, you will find that you enjoy the whole process much more. Even if you do still order takeaway on occasion, you will be more likely to do so intentionally than out of exhaustion. Remember, whether you are a gourmet chef or are an expert at ordering pizza, the most important thing is that your kids know that you love them, no matter how busy things get.
*This is a collaborative post*