Do you know anyone who is not busy? Seriously? Any busy working mum that I know is run off her feet juggling family, kids, their partner and work – no matter whether they are working from home or in a more structured environment. When we think about this – it’s no wonder our nutrition suffers. If you find that you do not have enough time to get to the bathroom let alone prepare nutritionally balanced meals three or more times each day – try my top five time-saving tips for busy mums who really do want to eat well.
Tip #1. Power planning
Good nutritional practices come via planning rather than knowledge. Often we know what we should be eating, but life takes over and we find ourselves in situations where we do not have the supplies on hand to eat well. For this reason, a crucial step in taking control of your nutrition is dedicating a little time each week to planning some of your meals and snacks in advance.
Once you know you will need lunch a certain number of days, or have no plans on a couple of nights you will be able to make the necessary arrangements to have healthy options on hand. I recommend using the weekend or Monday to set aside 5 or 10 minutes to run through your diary and consider your commitments and the impact these will have on food choices.
Ideally, we should start the week knowing what we will be eating for lunch most days and for dinner at least a couple of nights to keep in control of our nutrition.
Tip #2. Ditch the supermarket shop and switch to online
When time is sparse you can easily save an hour or more each week by swapping to online shopping. Not only will your nutrition be improved as you will be forced to plan your meals in advance – but you will save time, angst and stress by having your weekly groceries delivered straight to your front door. And, if that doesn’t sound appealing, even a smaller delivery of fruit and vegetables each week from a local supplier will ensure you always have food staples on hand to prepare vegetable-rich meals.
Tip #3. Cook smarter
Why cook every night when you could cook every second night for the same outcome? A number of meals can be used twice each week and be made into kid-friendly meals that satisfy the whole family.
For example, minced meat can be used as both a pasta bake and for tacos or san choy bau. Roast chicken can be used for a chicken pie another night, and lamb or steak can be used for a grill or stir fry. If having a similar meal two nights in a row is not appealing another option is to freeze a second serve so you always get two for one out of all the meals prepared.
Tip #4. Keep it simple
Kids like simple food. Think lean sausages and a few bits of salad, spaghetti and chicken nuggets. So why go to extra effort when you know deep down they will not eat it? Much time will be saved once you think of dinner as a simple event with meat and three vegetables – as opposed to a complicated recipe that will look and taste fantastic but may not even be eaten by your little ones.
Tip #5. Know your quick and easy options
Your quick and easy options could include a BBQ chicken and salad, a local Thai takeaway or a couple of frozen meals kept on hand. Once you know a meal you can grab and have ready in a few minutes that offers something positive nutritionally you will find yourself feeling more in control of your family meals and less likely to revert to a McDonalds drive-through in a panic late one Thursday evening.