Clever Healthy Food Hacks for Busy Mums
After a long day of work and taking care of the household, preparing meals from scratch can be tiresome. Juggling between the demands of motherhood and daily errands, it is understandable how cooking a healthy meal for everyone can seem like a mammoth task.
When dealing with your children’s meltdowns amidst office meetings, settling for pizza delivery or the good ol’ PB&J for dinner is often the scenario. Your healthy goals for your family and yourself are often pushed back due to the general daily chaos.
Making healthy food and practising a healthier lifestyle can be easy if the right tricks are used. Once you get the hang of it, whipping up healthy meals will be a breeze. For your convenience, this article will discuss clever, healthy food hacks for busy mothers.
Plan Your Meals Ahead
Like every new strategy, you need to plan and think ahead. Similar to Girl Scouts, it is wise to be prepared for every situation. It might seem unrealistic, but having the ingredients chopped beforehand and stored for meal plans is very effective.
Meal planning saves time and also reduces your expenditures. Plan your meals weekly. You can also make a monthly plan; however, a weekly plan might be better to provide more variety and flexibility.
Assign a day each week where you sit down and assess your schedule. You will notice that some days will require simple meals, such as school events or birthdays.
Highlight the dates that will most likely have a hectic night with a super tight schedule throughout the entire day. There will also be evenings where you might have to prepare a hearty yet healthy dinner that is quite time-consuming.
For keeping track of the meals easily, it is best to mark the calendar. This will help you visualise your meal plan. You will know what day to bring out the crockpot or hit the grocery store with a cursory glance.
Planning meals for the little ones is a bit tricky as they are often fussy eaters. You can read online articles and blogs on sites like pickyeaterblog.com to find healthy and delicious recipes easy to make.
You can decide on simple breakfasts on weekends where you can also involve your kids. Asking your young ones to pick their breakfast for the day can help you keep up with their changing palates.
You can also ask the older children to help out with the fresh produce like washing and cutting carrots. This will give the young bright minds an insight into preparing a well-balanced meal and the effort that goes into it.
For lunch, you can serve leftovers from the previous night. This reduces food waste as well as the time spent in the kitchen. To save time, you can consider cooking a double or triple batch of food that can be stored in the freezer, like stews, soups, and chilli.
Before freezing the food, make sure it is properly cooled and stored in clean containers. It is also crucial to ensure the utensils for making the food are clean and washed hands before ingredients have been touched. Such precautionary measures will keep food spoilage at bay.
Some clever mothers create meal plans for a month. One-month-long meal plans usually consist of five meals for four weeks. You can repeat these plans and create weekly grocery lists accordingly. Following such a routine makes it easy to reach your health goals and be on the right track.
If you want to experiment with a new meal, you can swap it out with one of those pre-planned meals. As time goes by, sticking with the plan will help you be familiar with the ingredients and monitor the inventory.
Knowing what you already have or what you need in the pantry saves time significantly. You can also easily whip up breakfast, lunch, or dinner without breaking a sweat when you have a record of what’s in the pantry.
Distract with Screen Time
Despite the common advice of limiting screen time for children, TVs and iPads are lifesavers during mealtime breakdowns. Strategically using these visual entertainment devices will distract your exhausted and hungry kids.
Early evening is the peak time for your children scuffling with each other, having an attitude, or exhibiting an outburst. Playing their favourite shows on the television or tablet while preparing dinner will divert their attention.
These devices are also a great tool to let your children decompress, especially when coming home after an eventful day like sports practise or other extracurricular activities. With your young ones kept busy with their favourite videos, you will be less likely to be stressed out in the kitchen.
If you are concerned about screen time, then limit the screen time to mealtimes only. This will also keep the exhaustion caused by digital appliances to a minimum.
Veggies at the Front
Vegetables are integral components of a well-balanced meal. Besides having high amounts of nutrients, fresh veggies are ideal as they are more palatable and easier to cook.
At least once in their lifetime, many individuals have suffered stumbling upon a rotten vegetable forgotten in the drawer of the refrigerator. It is wise to invest in clear food storage containers like Tupperware. Store your veggies in these transparent containers in the front of the fridge.
Ensure that they fall in your field of vision so that you do not forget about any perishable veggies. You also need to make sure that they are readily accessible. Storing in such a way is super convenient, and you can incorporate veggies into your meals every day effortlessly. You can store away leftover vegetables for the next day.
Take Less Time for Meal Prep
It is best to minimise your meal prep times. The recommended meal prep time is about 30 minutes. To reduce the time for meal preparation, cut your vegetables and protein beforehand and store them in the fridge.
Reap the benefits of using appliances like a pressure cooker for cooking roasts, stews, and curries in a short period of time. If your family likes rice, it is wise to get a rice cooker, so you do not have to spend a lot of time standing by the stove waiting for the rice.
Rice makers are affordable and make life easier. Once the rice gets cooked or is ready to be consumed, the device turns off automatically. The rice stays hot inside the cooking pot for a long time.
Properly Cook the Meat
It is a common practice to blast the meat in the microwave oven at the highest temperature. The results are sometimes unpleasant as it often does not cook or heat the centre well.
The outcome is more disastrous if the protein is frozen. Imagine your children having a fit over the frozen and unpalatable centre of a meaty dish. The handling of the meltdown and your efforts in making the food more edible can take more time than anticipated.
To avoid such a fiasco, it is best to take the meat out to thaw the night before. You can transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator before going to sleep. You can also use a digital meat thermometer to monitor the doneness.
Besides the undesirable taste, improperly cooked meats are also hazardous to the health, leading to digestive issues like diarrhoea and possible food poisoning.
Keep Your Fridge Organised
Besides vegetables, you should also keep other perishables like milk and fruits at the front. The best way to keep everything in your view is by keeping your refrigerator organised.
Assign certain shelves to certain items. For example, put all the fruits and vegetables on the top shelf. Keep all the proteins like cheese, milk, eggs, and condiments like ketchup on the second shelf.
Basically, store the things that spoil fast where you can see them. You can also use clip-on dividers on the racks to make it easier to keep everything in your fridge organised.
Serve Foods Quickly
The last challenge most parents face is in serving the food. Cutting it with a fork and knife takes time and is often cumbersome when you have various responsibilities looming over your head.
It is of the utmost importance for every mother to ensure that the food is safe to eat. You can use shear scissors to reduce the time in cutting up the pieces. These scissors are great tools to cut the meat and other chunky components into bite-sized pieces in no time.
Whether balancing work life with household duties or simply being more efficient, raising a child is a huge responsibility. Ensuring the little ones have a well-balanced diet is part of being a parent.
Despite being busy, you can still provide healthy meals with the right strategies and planning. These tips will help you master mealtimes for a happy and healthy family.