We contacted several registered dietitians and cookbook authors who are also busy working moms to get advice on how to prepare wholesome, hassle-free meals. Here are four smart strategies for solving real-life dinnertime dilemmas. Look for the final three tips next week!
Shop with your meal plan.
Create a shopping list from the recipes you’re going to make during the week. Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, of Real Mom Nutrition, says “I used to dash to the store three to four times a week because I didn’t have a key ingredient for my dinner recipes. So now when I’m shopping for the week, I refer to my recipes to make sure I have everything I need. It saves me a lot of time and makes the week run smoothly!”
Get your kids involved in shopping.
Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD, co-author of Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, says that “kids who pick out and grow their own food are more inclined to eat, or at least try it! The next time you go to the farmers’ market (or produce aisle in the grocery store), send your kids on a scavenger hunt to find a fruit or veggie that they have never tried. If they are old enough, they can search online for cooking instructions and recipes and help to prepare them. You can also take them to a plant nursery in the spring and let them pick out a few herbs and vegetables that you can plant together in the garden or in a pot by the window.”
Jump-start dinners with short-cut ingredients.
Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD, of Mom’s Kitchen Handbook, says the keys to making healthy eating more convenient are to shop smart, prep in advance, and store ingredients where they’re visible. Her recommendations to simplify snack and meal preparation include:
- Store cut-up, crunchy, fresh vegetables in a clear container in the fridge right at eye level for easy snacking or to toss into a quick dinner salad.
- Keep fruit handy, such as easy-to-peel tangerines, small apples, washed grapes, or sliced pineapple.
- Cook batches of lentils or whole grains with which to build simple meatless meals.
- Shop for good-for-you convenience foods, such as bagged leafy greens, canned beans, frozen fruit, rotisserie chicken, and canned tuna.
Stock the freezer.
“Family dinner is a priority in our house, but I’m not always successful in doing the pre-prep on the weekends that I’d like to do. On the weeks when I don’t have all of our meals planned out, I always know I have a freezer packed with options,” says Janet Helm, MS, RD, of Nutrition Unplugged. “I will often go to my local warehouse club store and stock up on meats and repackage them into individual portions for the freezer. If we cook a large roast or a big batch of grains, I store the leftovers in the freezer alongside store-bought frozen vegetables for an easy mid-week stir-fry, pasta dish, or taco supper. So even when the refrigerator is bare, I can always count on the freezer for the staples I need for a quick dinner.”
Stay tuned for the final three tips next week!
Andrea Kirkland is a Registered Dietitian and culinary expert on a quest to teach people how to make good-for-you food taste amazing. Her passion for healthy cooking began early in life while helping loved ones who followed special diets find ways to make delicious and satisfying meals. She develops weight-management and specialty-diet recipes as part of the eMeals team.
Mary Creel is a registered dietitian and four-time Ironman finisher. She caught the running bug in the 1970s, and hasn’t stopped since. When she isn’t biking, swimming, or pounding the pavement, she’s developing healthy and gluten-free recipes as part of the eMeals team.