Rockabye Early Learning Centre takes the care and education of young children seriously. Today centre owner Caryn Mawkes has some practical and helpful tips for an easy stress free meal times.
We all know that getting dinner on the table every night isn’t always easy – there’s planning, shopping and cooking, then the clean up – but that doesn’t mean it has to take hours of your time each day.
One of the simplest ways to ensure easy cooking is to do a little meal planning. Don’t worry if you’re not the organised type. It doesn’t take much time or organisational skills to reap the benefits of planning a week or two’s meals in advance.
But what little time is spent on meal planning leads to faster meals, less stress around meal time and more meals at home. It is no secret that order and organisation help with dinnertime madness.
Here are some tips on ways to save time in the evening, giving you more time with your family or to relax.
Organisation. Check the meal planner in the morning to see if any meat needs defrosting/preparing (slow cooker) or marinating.
Having ingredients in accessible and labelled containers will help when writing a shopping list as you can see what you have at a glance.
Always have a plan B – a back-up meal in your pantry/freezer that you can cook in 10 minutes and for which you have ALL of the ingredients.
Instead of having a pile of cookbooks, photocopy your favourite recipes and keep them in a handy place in the kitchen.
Shopping. Begin with meal planning for the week to ensure you have a concise shopping list. Put the meal planner on the fridge for the week.
Stock up a variety of core ingredients that can be used to whip up a meal at a moment’s notice. These might include: tinned tomatoes, frozen fruits/vegies, pastry, stock, pasta, dried fruit, eggs, herbs and spices.
Cooking. Cook once and eat twice. Save yourself time by cooking double quantity and freeze half for another meal. Batch cooking is a great way to get ahead for those busy nights you may have.
Use the slow cooker and put it on in the morning – it will certainly become your best friend. It’s a great way to cook less expensive cuts of meat providing the family with tasty tenderness.
With careful planning, you can create two very different meals from the same main ingredient (i.e. roast beef to a shepherd pie).
Finally, every family is different and as little ones grow the demands on your time will change.
These practical, time-saving tips are simple to implement and will ease the juggle of parenthood. Even if you use only a couple of these tips, you will save time in the kitchen and have more time to do what you like best.