The Stress of Cooking Family Meals May Outweigh the Benfits
According to a recent study, mom’s are finding that their crazy family schedule on top of work is making or paring a healthy family meal to overwhelming.
I read this article and thought, “Duh!” We overschedule ourselves and our kids and then expect to be able to skip the drive thru and cook from scratch. I get it.
But then I thought wait a minute. It doesn’t have to be that hard!
My family eats 90 percent of our meals at home. That includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. Am I some kind of supermom for making that happen? Not at all.
I am here to tell you that all of those cookbooks and recipe sites and food shows are a good thing! They provide a wealth of easy-to-prepare, healthy meals that won’t break the bank or cause major stress.
It takes some preparation and planning, but it is certainly not unattainable, and the benefits definitely outweigh the effort.
Here are five tips to help your family get on the healthy meal bandwagon.
Research-Once a week, take a half hour to comb through Pinterest, a magazine, or a simple recipe cookbook. Easy recipes are out there, you just have to do a quick search. Use keywords like “easy weeknight meals,” or “crockpot meals,” or “freezer meals” and you will be amazed at what pops up.
Make a list – Now that you have a menu, make a grocery list. If you can, try and organize it by aisle. I know this sounds crazy. However if you regularly shop at the same store, I bet you can remember the aisles pretty easily and can group your list accordingly.
Have a well-stocked pantry-There are tons of suggested pantry lists out there. Take a few minutes to find one that makes sense for your family. Once you get used to keeping what your family likes to eat well-stocked, then you will always have something to throw together quickly.
SIDE NOTE: I am never opposed to pre-made pastas, jar sauces or even mixes. Look for ones with the shortest list of ingredients and add veggies or fruits you have on hand to up the healthy content.
Always keep a fruit/veggie bowl-You can’t add them to meals or serve them as snacks if you don’t have fruits and vegetables available. If it’s easier to buy pre-cut, then do so. And frozen veggies and fruit are just as healthy as fresh, which makes keeping some on hand easy.
Cook in a day-Always cook as much as possible on the weekend. I used this trick when I was working. I would plan, shop and cook for at least one casserole, one soup and one crockpot meal and prep or cook them all on Sunday. Usually it would take a couple hours, but the kitchen only got dirty once, all the dishes were done and we had healthy meals at least three times a week. Double a couple of those meals and you had enough leftovers for lunches during the week, too. (The other advantage to cooking this way is that those fresh fruits and veggies won’t go to waste when you run out of time cook during the week.)
The idea that we have made dinner this stressful is unreal to me. Healthy, homemade meals are important not only for our family’s physical health, but their mental health as well.
Let me know if any of these tips work for you, and send me others that you use.