It falls to me, as the work-at-home parent, to have dinner on the table most weeknights. While I enjoy cooking, it quickly becomes a dreaded chore when I feel the pressure to have something healthy and satisfying prepared every evening. Honestly, if it weren’t for the family, I’d eat oatmeal and soup half the time, but alas, I can only get away with this on certain occasions. My challenge every day is to find a way to feed my family nutritious foods that don’t require a ton of thought and prep time. Where to start? Organization is the key.
How to Get Organized I have learned that a super-stocked fridge and pantry can be overwhelming. Food items get pushed to the back of the fridge and are forgotten, and I feel guilty when they go to waste. A clean and orderly fridge filled with everyday essentials brings me clarity and peace of mind.
- De-clutter your pantry and refrigerator to help you find ingredients quickly. Stock with your family’s favourite go-to items.
- Throw away all old jars of expired sauces and condiments.
- Stock your freezer with frozen items such as vegetables, fruit, fish and meat. This allows you to prepare healthy meals even if you don’t have fresh produce and meat on hand.
- Wash fresh fruit and veggies before you put them away. You are more apt to throw fresh kale into your pasta if it’s ready to add in a flash.
- Always have canned beans, soups and dried noodles in your pantry. A stir-fry or meatless pasta can be whipped up in no time for days when you are flat out of time.
Plan meals for the week ahead and use whatever helps you do things more effortlessly.
- Get the latest meal planning app with customized grocery lists and recipes. I also make my own list by dictating items into a list I’ve saved in my notes on my iPhone.
- I often plug specific keywords for ingredients into Google when I have a particular dish in mind. Many recipe websites offer this feature as well.
- Buy a couple of everyday recipe cookbooks to give you inspiration. Even if you detest going by the book, use them as a rough guideline or source of motivation to try new things.
- Take the four week MTM Family Meals Challenge which includes; 4 dinner recipes, grocery lists and dinnertime tips and activities each week.
Stick to tried and true methods.
- Make a double batch of whole grain pancakes or waffles on the weekend and freeze half to pop in the toaster on school mornings or for snacks.
- Break out the crock pot! There are so many quick and nutritious soup, chilli and casserole dishes that can simmer all day and be ready for when you walk in the door.
- Double duty dinners are the way to go. Leftovers from a roast beef or baked ham can be repurposed for lunch sandwiches or a casserole the next night.
It’s not hard to come up with healthy and mouth-watering meals in less time. When you find yourself in a rut, look to cookbooks, online blogs and friends for new ideas. You simply need wholesome ingredients on hand and inspiration on your side.
By Kristen Wint