Making Mealtimes Less Stressful

A busy mummy’s guide.

I know as a busy parent that meal times can be a real stress; I either end up getting stuck in a rut and cooking the same thing week in, week out, or I struggle to get the dinner cooked at all because the kids are always under my feet and NEED  something desperately whilst I’m prepping the dinner. Well for all you busy parents, here’s my busy mummy guide to making meal time easier.

messy

Can you really make meal times easier? Yes, there are a few things that you can do – when I originally went back to work after having my daughter, my husband and I took it in turns to batch cook several meals on a Sunday afternoon ready to freeze and use later on in the week. Doing this meant that we could have delicious home cooked meals during the week but we didn’t have to worry about any of the cooking; we could literally walk in and re-heat the pre-prepared meal and know that this could be achieved by 5pm without either of us having to rush home from work.

helping

This system worked for us for well over a year but towards the end of this year, I grew really tired of the process as it meant one of us was always in the kitchen for a good few hours on a Sunday and took away from our family time. While on occasion we still do this, we tend to batch cook one meal and freeze it for longer lengths of time.

What we tend to do now is pre-plan our meals for the week (saving both money and time) and choose time saving options for the days we know we are going to be late. Depending on the meal, you can even prep the bulk of the meal the night before and keep it in the fridge ready to cook the following day. Some of the quick meal options we use are:

  • Buy fresh pasta instead of dried pasta. Even though it’s a little more expensive, fresh pasta will cook in two minutes. You can then toss in some equally quick toppings or sauces for a 5 minute meal. Some of our favourites are simple passata mixed with fresh tomatoes, garlic, herbs, pepper and diced ham; tuna, sweetcorn and mayonnaise; homemade meatballs (defrosted from the freezer) in either a tomato or bolognaise sauce and passata with peppers, spinach, garlic and herbs.
  • Using cooked meats to add to a salad. My personal favourite at the moment is lots of different green leaves, cucumber, carrot, beetroot, olives, feta and mangoes with diced ham or chicken.
  • Sausage casserole that you can literally throw into a dish and shove in the oven. (We cheat here and use a packet mix!)
  • Oven baked risotto is also a quick dish you can make and just shove in the oven. Simply fry the chicken, add the risotto rice and 650ml vegetable or chicken low salt stock and then add frozen veg (peas, carrots, sweetcorn, peppers and broccoli). Mix it all together and then put in an oven proof dish and cook for 25 minutes on a medium heat.
  • A quick fish pie is also a must have on your list. If you keep a pack of frozen fish pie mix in the freezer, all you need is to poach the fish, add in 500ml milk, add some bay leaves, chives and frozen vegetables and add two tablespoons of flour to thicken the sauce. Stir until thickened and serve with potato on top.
  • Shepherd’s pie is another favourite in our house.
  • Buying a pizza kit is a really quick and yummy dish. You simply mix the dough, roll and add the toppings of your choice before whizzing in the oven for 10 minutes – I love that you can involve the children in this one too!

grated-cheese

One appliance that could help to revolutionise the way you prepare your meals are the range of microwaves from Panasonic. So, they are more than a regular microwave; they actually offer the ability to microwave, grill, oven and steam as well as turbo charged defrost your food. We used to have a similar product in our old house and the ability to use it as both a microwave and an oven/grill was amazing. We were able to save time when preparing larger meals as well as simply take advantage of the convenience of it. Now that we’ve moved, we have gone backwards and have a very cheap and cheerful microwave again and I can honestly say I miss it so much. I am completely lusting over Panasonic’s newest model with ‘Panacrunch’ (for extra bite!) and a flatbed (for the extra space) that this is actually going on the ‘to buy when we have money’ list. These microwave ovens could transform your meal time madness to a much calmer and more relaxed time; they could half the cooking time whilst preserving the flavour, nutrients and vitamins. What could be better than this?

 

I’d love if you could share any of your top tips or recipes too!

 

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