Working Mom Meal Planning

How To Serve Homemade Meals (Almost) Every Night

Having it all starts with having your, um, stuff together. I leave for work before my husband and daughter get up for the day. He drops her off at daycare and I pick her up. By the time I fight with transit to get home, I have maybe an hour to get a decent meal on the table before my little one is too tired to eat. Life would be easier if I dialed for dinner more often but - financial considerations aside - I think it sets an important example to have family meals prepared at home.

How do I serve fresh, homemade meals every night of the week? Planning. Lots and lots of planning. These five tips can help you do the same.

1. Make a meal plan and stick to it. I sit down on Saturday mornings with the weekly flyers and make the shopping list based on what’s on sale with a plan for dinner every night of the week. I consult it the night before to make sure the next night’s dinner is thawed and prepped.

2. Remember those cookbooks everyone bought you the first few years you were married? Dust ‘em off once in a while. It’s easy to get in a rut when you’re in a race against bath time.

3. Prep as much as you can in advance. Make the sauce for your pasta on Tuesday (and make a lot of it to freeze the rest), and while you’re at it slice the peppers for that stirfry you’re going to make on Thursday. If you toss those peppers in a Ziploc along with the beef slices and some sauce, it will marinade as it freezes and thaws and you only have to clean the cutting board once.

4. It’s OK to have little cheats. I buy pre-chopped garlic. No, it’s not just as good the freshly pressed stuff but for a weeknight dinner it’s good enough. Also high on my list of faves are pre-chopped vegetables. Yes, it’s a little more expensive than doing it yourself but compared to take out it’s a bargain.

5. Your kid skipped a nap today and they’re just too tired to wait for the nice dinner you had in this week’s plan? Don’t bother trying. Seriously. Once in a while it’s OK to feed them a sandwich, a glass of milk and some fruit before you call it a day. Put the tired little person to bed and ask your partner to bring home a nice bottle of wine. Then you can enjoy that nice meal together. What you do after dinner is entirely up to you…

Julia Warrender is a wife, a mother, a communications professional and an all-around smartass. It's a lot of hats to wear and she doesn’t always wear them well. She can usually be found over at Life with a Parasite where she shares all the things “they” don’t tell you about pregnancy, parenting and infertility.