With the kids heading back to school and the seasonal work picking up, preparing supper can suddenly become a great source of stress in some people’s lives. Depending on the number of people who need to be fed, your work schedule, taking care of the kids, and any other responsibilities, you may feel like cooking is a chore that is best left to a restaurant. That is, if you can afford one. Here are some tips to make mealtime at home a little less frantic and stressful.
Make a Weekly Menu
Believe it or not, trying to figure out what you are going to cook on any given night can be quite time-consuming. If you are not really sure of what to whip up, you may be stressing yourself out thinking about all your options. Everything that is associated with food and eating should be enjoyable, so try planning out a menu to follow for the whole week and see if this cuts down on your stress. Don’t use do it for yourself, keep in mind the kids too. If you plan out school lunches in advance, you can save yourself precious minutes first thing in the morning.
Prep on Sundays
Arrange your schedule so you can do all of your meal prep on Sundays. Or, if you happen to work on Sunday, put another day aside that you can devote entirely to meal prep. Don’t use that time to just prepare dinner for the week, prep breakfasts and lunches as well. If you send your kids off to school with their lunches, this kind of prep can be a life saver first thing in the morning. Just grab their lunch out of the fridge, toss it in their bags, and away they go! If you want a few days where you don’t have to cook, prepare double of what you normally do so there will periodically be leftovers to enjoy. Chop up any vegetables you need and, if necessary, separate them. Precooking and freezing meals, so you can just pop them into the oven when you are ready to eat, can be a huge time saver. Also, consider investing into a crockpot or slow cooker so, in the future, you only need to pull a prepped bag of food out of the freezer to toss into the crockpot to cook while you are at work.
Get your family to help out. The kids should be home from school by the time you start on supper, so their hands should be free! On days when you are making spaghetti, delegate boiling the pasta to someone else and have another person cook the meatballs and sauce. By getting your family involved and helping out more in the kitchen, mealtime can become easier, more enjoyable, and far more efficient.
Buy Easy to Cook Foods
There is nothing wrong with enjoying making all of your meals from scratch. However, doing so does add more work to mealtime. Every now and then, go grocery shopping for easy to prepare foods. These are the kind of foods that you can simply pop into the microwave, or that you can eat straight out the package, like yogurt from Hampton Creek. Either way, easy to prepare foods or premade meals can be a lifesaver on those days where you are just too tired to put on your apron and cook.
Your mood can dramatically impact your attitude about cooking. There may be many reasons why you may not be in the mood to cook, or even reasons why you dislike cooking. The back to school season can be an exhausting time. However, you should not let those moods overpower your need to stay positive. Maintaining a positive mindset about things you don’t like to do can help to make them more bearable.
Look for ways to keep yourself positive. Listen to some music while you are in the kitchen cooking, or watch one of your favorite shows. Talk with one of your friends or family while you are cooking, as long as you remember to stay attentive to what you are doing! No matter what you decide to do, remember to stay safe and never leave cooking food unattended.
With the right changes to your routine, preplanning your meals, and a little help from your family, mealtime doesn’t have to be so overwhelming and stressful. It can be fun and engaging! Advanced meal prep can also help keep your grocery budget under control as you no longer making daily trips to the store. The best part about all of this is that you’ll feel better, be less stressed, and have more energy to spend with the people that you love!