In many families, both parents share responsibility for making meals — especially when both are working. In my family though, I handle the majority of our meals. When we got married, we divvied up the household tasks, and meals were one of the duties that I took on. My husband will help occasionally, but the meal planning and preparation are things that I own. It's one of the reasons that I wanted to work part-time instead of full-time post-baby.
I'll be the first to admit that as far as working moms go, I have the easiest situation. I work part-time with a schedule that has me home by 1:00 in the afternoon most days. I only have one child and he's still mostly bottle-fed (we just started solids a la "baby led weaning" a couple of weeks ago). My situation is much easier than the situation that many working moms have!
In general, I enjoy cooking, but that doesn't mean I want to spend hours in the kitchen! I also don't like feeling frazzled when it comes to dinner time. So, today I'll share my tips for how I manage meals as a working mom. Maybe they'll be helpful to you. Maybe you have some better ideas of your own!
Plan ahead. I think the most important thing you can do, working mom or otherwise, is to plan your meals! If you plan your meals in advance, you can minimize the number of trips to the grocery store in a week and you can eliminate the "It's 5:30 p.m. and I have a hungry family, what am I going to make?" stress from your life. I do a weekly meal plan, but I have friends that plan two weeks or even one month at a time. Whatever works for you is the best option!
Prep ahead. Once I have my weekly menu, I prep what I can on the weekends. It usually takes 30 minutes tops to cut veggies, take meat out of the freezer and make sure I have all the ingredients that I'm going to need.
Think easy! Many women love slow cooker meals. I confess that I'm not one of them. I do have a few that I like — roast beef, spaghetti sauce, taco soup, chili, chicken tacos, but I use my slow cooker at most once a week. Other working moms thrive on them. If that's you, slow cook it up! Instead I try to make easy meals - meals that can be thrown together quickly. Since I have a menu plan, if I have two meals that need hamburger, then I'll brown the beef for both meals at the same time, storing the other half for later in the week. Same thing with chicken, rice or veggies for salad. We eat a lot of spaghetti, pizza, tacos and soup in our house!
Freeze ahead! Some women do a marathon "cook one day a month and make 20 meals at one time" cooking days, but I'm not one of them. But I do freeze meals occasionally. When I make lasagna, I make two of them and freeze one. When I make chili, I freeze some for later. Then when life gets hectic, I just pull a meal out of the freezer and account for longer baking time. Just about any meal can be frozen!
Love your leftovers! Some meals, I think, are even better as leftovers — anything with tomato sauce like spaghetti or chili just seem to make excellent leftovers! I usually don't care for the same meal two days in a row, so many times the tacos that I had on Monday get turned into taco salad on Thursday. The chicken that went into chicken fettuccine alfredo becomes chicken quesadillas. The roast beef that we had on Tuesday makes excellent roast beef sandwiches on Friday night. Also, cooking bigger meals on the weekends is another great way to get another couple of meals during the week.
Those are my tips! What does your family do to make meals easier?