4 Clever Mealtime Hacks For Busy Moms

4 clever mealtime hacks for busy moms

Many families still consider mealtimes at home to be precious occasions for family bonding. However, with the increased demands of work and other commitments, planning daily meals can become tedious or even a hassle for busy parents! Make mealtimes fun again with these 4 clever hacks that will help you cut on your work in the kitchen, and allow you to spend more time with your loved ones!

(1) Prepare and pre-cook ingredients beforehand

Prep time for chopping, boiling, and doing the groundwork for a meal can be even more stressful than getting the food on the stove. Cut down on daily prep time by having some ingredients already prepared and on hand in the fridge. These work best for: 
  • Onions and garlic: chop or mince beforehand, keep stored in a sealed container to maintain freshness
  • Oil-based pasta sauces such as pesto. Have them on hand in containers and jars, stored in the refrigerator. All that one needs is fresh pasta, and the meal is ready! 
  • Ground meat carefully sautéed with spices. This can be used to make a variety of dishes such as burgers, meatballs, ragouts, and dumplings
  • Shredded boiled chicken can be stored and used at a later time for salads, soups, sandwich fillings, or rice toppings. 
  • Noodles can be cooked beforehand and then used in a stir fry mixed with meats and vegetables. 

(2) Cook good for two or more meals

Although scorned by many finicky households, leftovers can actually be the saving grace for those who have little or no time to keep planning meal after meal. With careful planning, last night’s dinner can be stretched out to become the next day’s baon or lunch. This works particularly with stews and saucy dishes such as adobo, afritada and menudo; all one needs is to reheat the leftovers and find fresh rice. In other cases, large batches of food can be repurposed from one meal to another. Try the following tips: 
  • Cooked fish and pork can be simmered with vinegar and garlic to create paksiw, a breakfast favorite
  • Large batches of rice can be fried to make the favorite garlic sinangag, or even homemade Yang Chow fried rice
  • Chicken and pork adobo meats can be shredded finely and refried to a crisp in adobo sauce to make adobo flakes, another delicious rice topping. 
  • Chicken (breast or thigh) or fish fillets can be converted to sandwich fillers, rice toppings, or stir fry the next day.

(3) Try one pot or one pan meals

Another saving grace for busy households is the existence of the one-pot meal; the sort of cooking that involves throwing everything in a pot to simmer till done. In olden days this was done with clay pots and open flames, but today’s kitchens can provide equally good results with less effort by using crock pots, or its kindred spirits such as pressure cookers and Dutch ovens. Even without these innovations, one-pot cooking is still possible with a sturdy, heavy-bottomed pot good for making stews and soups.  

Baking is another delicious take on the one pot concept. With simple recipes for baked chicken or cutlets, busy parents can have a hot meal ready for the family while going about other tasks at home. 

(4) Get the kids involved

Make mealtimes more of a family affair by getting kids to help in readying the meal! Younger children can take charge of setting the table or doing the dishes after eating, while older ones can have a hand with peeling, chopping or other tasks with preparing food. This delegation of tasks can take some load off busy parents, as well as begin to teach kids how to cook simple, everyday fare. That way, parents can rest easy knowing that their youngsters will not subsist merely on takeout and microwavable meals once they leave the family home! 

Food should not become a source of stress in the family, especially for those in charge of preparing meals. With careful planning and cooperation, parents can take back the kitchen and their family time, and make mealtimes safe spaces for their families. We wish you the best of luck and happy eating! 

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