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Preparing an dinner every day is never an easy task, especially for busy moms. If you’re one of those struggle with thinking about and preparing an everyday dinner, know that you aren’t alone. Moms from all walks of life struggle with feeding their children. All we ask is for wholesome meals that don’t break the bank or take a ton of time.
Instead of caving in to takeout temptation or hitting up your favorite Italian restaurant time and time again, check out these mom-approved tips for making scrumptious dinners that kids will love. Some bloggers, nutritionists, and personal trainers revealed their secrets on how to pull off cooking for a family without spending hours in the kitchen or hundreds upon hundreds of dollars in the grocery store.
Next time you’re in a dinner bind, try using one of these handy tips!
Sneak in some vegetables
Here’s the thing: Kids can’t reject what they don’t see. “Hiding veggies in comfort foods like casseroles or cheesy sauces is a sure way to get picky eaters to eat them,” Maya Krampf, a mom and founder of the food blog Wholesome Yum, explains.
Make sure your meals are nutritious by following some flexible guidelines. Leslie Forde, a blogger who writes Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs, likes to have a couple goals in mind before cooking in order to make sure her meals meet her and her family’s needs.Here’s one of her rules: “Every meal has 1 protein and 2 to 3 vegetables, typically 1 grain—but you choose your own adventure here, based on how you like to eat!”
You might think you need to make everyone their own special meal but you don’t need to. What you can do is customize the same dish in multiple ways. Adjust the ingredients to deal with picky eaters and food allergies.
Instead of whipping up a new course every day, get creative with the ingredients you have already prepared and reconfigure them to make new meals. Jennifer Blossom, a Doctor of Occupational Therapy and blogger at Blossoming Mommy, believes that there are many ways to reuse dishes. “If you made spaghetti one night and have leftover marinara, use it to make a frozen lasagna dish, red dipping sauce for cauliflower mozzarella sticks, or as a spread for zucchini boat appetizers,” she explains.
Get help from mason jars
Another one of Blossom’s secrets for quick meals? “Mason jars are an amazing way to stay organized, on track, and creative for the week,” she says. After preparing whatever produce your purchase, you can portion it out into mason jars. This is perfect for enjoying salads, smoothies, and light bites throughout the week.
Make the whole family involved
Allison R. Jackson is an expert at encouraging children to make healthy decisions when it comes to food and fitness. “I let my kids plan the week’s dinners. The only stipulation is they have to include a vegetable,” she shares. By letting your entire family get involved in the meal preparation process, children will be more excited and willing to try new dishes and food combinations.
Stick to the routine
You don’t need to invent a new culinary creation every night. One easy way to work variety into your meal plan is by dedicating meals to different days of the week. Rachel Bruzek of D’Amico Catering explains that in her family, they have several weekly culinary traditions. “Friday night is pizza and a movie night. We make our crust from scratch and everyone gets their own toppings,” Bruzek describes.
Have an emergency meal
It’s bound to happen once in a while: you’ll get caught up with work. Then before you know it, it’s 8 pm and you need to get food on the table, fast. Instead of throwing in the towel and ordering delivery, have a quick meal you can make during these food-emergency situations. Danai Balta, the co-founder of Family Stories, likes to make basmati rice, steamed veggies, and broiled steak or chicken whenever she’s crunched for time.
By being prepared and adding some fun to the planning, dinner doesn’t have to be a pain! Using these easy tips, you won’t have to struggle with dinner time every again!