30 April 2010

Best of Parent Hacks: Time-saving tips for healthy family meals

The sun's coming out, and my already low motivation to cook is sinking even lower. I want to be outside in the late afternoon playing, not slaving over a hot stove! Over the weekend, I want to be at the park, not the grocery store!

But people still gotta eat. And when I get organized about the process, I remember that not only do I love to eat, I also love to cook.

Do you need a little inspiration? If did, so I've started compiling a list of all the hacks devoted to quick, easy, healthy family meals...shopping, prepping, cooking, you name it. The list will grow as I dive more deeply into the archives and as more family feeding hacks come in. But in the meantime, I give you...

Time-saving tips for healthy family meals

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I have a dry erase month-long calendar on my fridge. Every week, I (with the kids' help) decide what to make for dinner according to the day of the week it is. Tuesday is Scout night so dinner is a "quick" fix, Wednesday someone works so I don't have to make as big a meal, etc, etc.

This helps in four ways:
*Grocery lists go much faster because I just write down what I need to buy to make each meal, therefore I spend less at the store--and don't forget anything.
*I don't get the "What's for dinner" every ten minutes, I tell them to look at the menu, and since the kids offered their opinions dinner is never something they don't like.
*There's no scramble to defrost hamburger or chicken at 5:00 because I've already done it at 8am.
*I don't end up making the same meals every week. You don't realize how often you make spaghetti/hamburgers/meatloaf until it's on the calendar three times in four weeks!

I also have a list of about 50 meals divided into three groups depending on prep/cook times. When we get stuck on a couple meals, we get that list out and more often then not I hear, "We haven't had that in while, let's make it!"

I do the weekly meal planning and it is a lifesaver. I love Heidi's idea to have a list of meals by prep/cook times and refer to that! I've just been keeping previous week's meals and going back to that but it's a lot less organized!

What great posts, Carrie Anne! I'll promote one up front so everyone can check it out.

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