I love to cook. Before I had kids I would experiment daily with different ingredients, tweaking recipes then convincing my friends and family to try my new concoction. That was almost nine years ago. Then came twins and my life changed forever.
The birth of my boys was bittersweet. They were born premature (24 weeks gestation) and along with them came a boat load of health problems. My life went from cooking dinner every night to daily therapy, monitoring oxygen saturation and obsessing over germs. Point being, when parents tell me they have no time, I get it! I mean, I really get it!
Three years later my daughter was born happy and healthy; today, nearly nine years later, I loaded all three of my kids on a bus for school. I thought my life was crazy then. Boy was I in for a big surprise!
Kids change our routine. For so many families, figuring out how to have a healthy meal every night seems impossible. Between work, sports, homework and other extracurricular activities (and in my case therapy!), it’s no wonder fast food and convenience items have become so popular. I’m often asked how I find the time to do all that I do. Today, I want to share how I make sure my kids eat a healthy meal every night of the week without having to cook Monday through Friday. Here’s what to do:
- Take 20 minutes to write down what meals you want for the week. Be sure to have all of the ingredients to prepare your items ahead of time. Be sure to prepare meals that can be reheated.
- Pick a day and time to cook. I usually choose Sundays because that is the one day that we do not have therapy, work or homework. But, it can be any date and time that works for your family.
- Get the kids involved if you can. Kids need to learn how to cook and the younger you teach them the easier your life will be. As they learn, they become more and more helpful and the degree to which they participate becomes greater.
- Multi-task! During this five hour period, all appliances are in use. Something is boiling on the stove top, cooking is in the slow cooker, baking in the oven, steaming in the microwave and pureeing in the Cuisinart. While hot items are cooking, fresh fruit can be cut, vegetables can be cleaned and salad items can be prepared.
- When items are complete, store them in shallow containers in the refrigerator to cool.
Presto, you have all of your meals prepared for the week- only reheating required.
Here is an example of what I prepared this week and how I used my equipment:
- On the grill– BBQ boneless skinless chicken breasts and turkey burgers
- In the slow cooker– boneless skinless chicken mixed with tomatoes, green peppers and onions
- In the oven – Salmon fillets, Roast with carrots and mushrooms and baked potatoes (both sweet and white this week.) Be sure if you prepare multiple oven items at the same time that the cooking temperature is the same.
- On the stove top– quinoa, brown rice and sautéed mushroom, onions and peppers (for the chicken and beef)
- In the Cuisinart -ground nuts (to add to the quinoa for a pilaf recipe) and I pureed a little of everything for my son (who eats only purred food)
- In the microwave– steamed mixed vegetables (that were frozen) , green beans, corn on the cob, broccoli
While all of this was cooking I cleaned salad items to pair with some of the meals and cut up watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, blueberries and grapes.
The longest item was the slow cooker which allowed me to clean up a bit while the chicken was still cooking. Now, we are ready for a week of healthy eating without the daily cleanup!
Now you can come up with 5 of your families favorites and prepare them all in a days work!