You don't have to take on the world as chef, Mom, and household manager without some extra help to stay on top of dinnertime. Mealtime is a daily occurrence, yet it always leads to some serious stress and scrambling to keep it all going. The good news is there are plenty of ways to balance being a busy mom while meal-prepping food your kids will actually eat at the same time.
Plan Your Week (While You're Full)
Studies show that planning what to cook for lunch and dinner causes working mothers more stress than any other aspect of family food and nutrition. It's even more stressful than cooking itself. However, the worst time to meal plan is about five minutes before everyone is about to succumb to hunger. You're more likely to buy too much at the grocery store, make too much food, and settle on poor dinner choices, from processed foods to fatty ingredients.
Instead, pick one day a week to meal plan and start a spreadsheet to track what you're doing. Make your goal to come up with two to four weeks of meals before rotating to older options. Over time, you can pull from your list to have ready-to-go meal options that you already know your kids will enjoy eating.
Leverage a Healthy Meal Prep Service
Meal prep delivery isn't always healthy, but the right service can help incorporate more nutrition into your diet while simplifying your life. FitTrax focuses on lean meats, veggies, fruits, and healthy carbs for a well-balanced meal that's packed with flavor. Use our meals to fill in the gaps during your week or load up for nightly dinners.
If you have athletes in the family, we help cater to high performers with our larger portions. Or use our heartier meal options to divide up between younger children to introduce them to new foods. We also make catering to different nutritional needs easier, including vegan meals.
Use What You Already Have
There's no need to rush out to the grocery store before you've used up what you already have around the kitchen. Scour your freezer and pantry and build meals off of your leftover ingredients. If you're unsure what to make with what you have, consider whether they can be repurposed into casseroles, sheet pan dinners, or even healthy pizzas.
Remember, meat doesn't always need to be the superstar of mealtime. You can also turn to beans, grains, and a charcuterie board of everything your family loves to eat, from smaller slices of pepperoni to veggies, grapes, cheese, and crackers.
Keep it Simple
Experimenting with ingredients and meal ideas is a lofty goal but not always the best fit for nightly dinner. Carve out time to create one new meal a week or once a month and rely on old favorites with a twist during the in-between times. For example, instead of the usual handmade bread, try adding everything bagel-seasoning and turn into a pull apart bread that pairs with soup and salad.
Another option is to simplify dinner during the week when work and activities take over your schedule. Save weekend time for more complex dinners where everyone can relax while they eat.
Make Meal Prep Family Time
Even small kids can help with meal time when you turn prep into a family bonding experience or an ongoing responsibility. Task everyone with one aspect of organizing dinners, whether it's helping look up recipes or getting out containers and lids to packing everything up. You can either make meals in advance and freeze them or get all the ingredients together in a few containers or bags to simplify cooking.
Make a schedule for older kids to help out when they get home from school. They can check the calendar for the nightly meal and thaw, prep, or put the dish in the oven at the right time. Or your kids can help with clean-up and labeling containers so you know what's for dinner on leftover night.
Plan for Leftovers
Choose the busiest nights of the week for leftover nights and plan in advance. Make sure there's enough for everyone, or supplement lighter meals with fruits and veggies. Depending on what's left, you can also combine several dishes make a new, exciting entree. If your leftovers aren't going to stretch far enough for dinner, they also turn into perfect lunches or are added alongside a casserole or evening to use up the leftovers in the house.
Have a Back-Up Plan
When life is busy, and you have kids in the house, things don't always go as expected. Let the stress roll away by always having a Plan B. A simple dish like whole wheat pancakes, turkey bacon, and scrambled eggs delight kids during dinnertime and takes the pressure off. Or you can keep a few extra FitTrax meals in your freezer that make it seem like you had a perfect plan the whole time.
Ready to reclaim family mealtime and make it healthy, flavorful, and able to fuel your day? FitTrax creates macro-friendly meals and dishes with weekly to 21-day meal options. Or choose from our A La Carte option and bulk items to maximize your favorite flavors and nutrients. Get started today.