Did you know that the average mom spends 18 days per year, and over THREE YEARS of her life in the kitchen? (source)
While that statistic does sound shocking, it actually makes sense. If we, as moms, are cooking or preparing three meals a day, plus the additional clean up process, that time definitely adds up fast!
Now, I’m a busy mom of three (soon-to-be four) boys. I also don’t love to cook. My husband, on the other hand, enjoys cooking. If he were able, he would most likely gladly take that job over! But for me, cooking is a necessary evil. (Hey, we all have to eat!) And since I’m the one at home most days, the task falls to me.
On top of the fact that I don’t love cooking, we also usually have some type of evening activity 4-5 days out of the week.
At least I can say my life is definitely NOT boring!
Because of all these different variables, and in an effort to save my sanity, I do everything in my power to make mealtimes as simple as possible.
Below are some of the things we do to simplify our meals on an as needed basis.
1.Use paper plates.
This obviously isn’t the most eco-friendly tip, but for those meals where you’re crunched for time, using paper plates makes for a quick and easy clean up.
And sometimes convenience trumps everything else!
2.Use simple ingredients
For some reason I feel like I need to make dinners more complicated then they need to be, complete with new recipes and elaborate ingredients. I’ve since come to realize that this seems to be my go-to thought process and am trying to retrain myself to think simple!
There is absolutely no reason why dinner, or any meal, needs to be complicated. I now gravitate towards recipes with 5 ingredients or less, as that tends to make meal preparation fast and simple.
And, bonus! The simpler the meals the more my (picky) kids generally like them.
3. Eat the same things
Gasp! Can you really do that?
Of course you can!
My motto is if the kids like it and actually eat it, and it contains relatively balanced nutritional components, then why not make it once a week?
Or every day for lunch, in our case of chronic PB&J lovers over here.
4. Choose meals everyone likes
Don’t make Chili if you know for a fact your kids won’t touch beans. (Ask me how I know this is not worth the battle…)
My husband and I love a good Chili. Me, for multiple reasons. It’s tasty, it’s a throw-everything-in-the-crockpot-and-forget-about-it kind of recipe (my favorite!), and it’s pretty healthy! But every time I make it, it’s like World War III broke out in my house. Between trying to hogtie the kids to their seat and borderline force-feeding them their mandatory 5 bites (the BEANS!), the bottom line is it’s just not worth it.
Sigh. Hopefully someday all the members of my family will eat Chili. But for now, I guess we will add another regular rotation of tacos to the mix.
Because, hey, sometimes it’s just not worth the battle!
5. Have everything ready to go before the kids sit down at the table.
We usually completely dish up the boys and have their plates and drinks already on the table before they even sit down. This helps prevent multiple trips to the kitchen for forgotten items, and fidgety/hangry children who are ready to eat.
And, if you want to get really fancy? Have the kids eat first, and make it a pseudo dinner date night when they’re in bed!
Even if it’s just the same ol’ mac-n-cheese dinner but eaten in peace.
Listen. I have bravely dubbed myself the expert on simplifying meals. Why? Because I hate cooking, I have super picky eaters, and live a crazy busy life! Therefore over the past 8 years of momming-it-up, I have been forced to find ways to make mealtimes as simple as possible.
As funny as it sounds, there was a time when I didn’t think I would be a good mom if I didn’t do meals the “right” way. Like the Mom Police would come and revoke my Mom Card, or the Healthy Moms everywhere would call me out on my lack of mealtime ingenuity.
I have since learned that if my picky children are actually eating a somewhat balanced meal and that they are healthy and growing, I must be doing at least some of this mom stuff right.
And you are, too!
Don’t fall victim to the notion that if it’s not elaborate and perfectly fancy/healthy/balanced/gourmet/whatever, ALL the time, that you’re doing it wrong! It’s simply not true!
You can still raise and grow strong, healthy children with simpler mealtimes…whatever that might look like for your family!
Hopefully some of these tips can help you and your family on your quest to simplify meals.
What are some things you do to simplify meals?
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