Preparing food for a family on a busy weeknight makes it difficult, to find time, for a decent meal after a chaotic day. Families have good intentions of eating nutritious food, however finding food that is balanced, and convenient to prepare, can become overwhelming. A few practical tips can make cooking food, on a tight schedule, an achievable goal.
If time allows set aside a few hours over the weekend for food prep and consider making several freezer meal recipes. Soups and stews are hearty meals that include the majority of all fresh food groups. Cook soups and stews in advance and place them in the freezer for quick thawing in the microwave. Most any casserole can be frozen and thawed out for an easy and filling meal. Chicken breasts with marinade can be used for quick stir-fries and wraps. Use professional freezer cookbooks that detail preparation for making several meals out of a large quantity of the same core ingredients. The majority of foods can be refrozen once and defrosted for future meals, with the exception of seafood and a few other foods.
If the task of actually preparing meals for the freezer is too overwhelming, or there is not sufficient time to accomplish this task, consider making food prep less time consuming. Create healthy foods that are readily available for quick prep and consumption. Wash and clean all vegetables and fruit, like carrots, celery, lettuce, or any number of produce items, placing them into containers or sealed bags in the refrigerator. Not only will this prepare produce for use during a meal but provide a quick and nutritious snack. Rinse bunches of grapes and wash apples, placing them in the refrigerator immediately. The objective is to get vegetables as close to prepared as possible.
In addition to freezing foods and prepping, use your slow cooker or invest in a new slow cooker that allows the user to cook food on low heat for many hours. A pot roast or any variety of meat, potatoes and carrots are a quick and healthy meal. The only prep required after a long day of work is to simply put the food on the table with necessary condiments and a stick of butter for the potatoes.
Other ideas include sharing the responsibility of cooking a healthful meal. Find other families in your neighborhood and share meal responsibilities. Form a meal coop. Rotate the meal responsibility around the neighborhood, so everyone is cooking, in bigger quantities, fewer times per week. In other words, each family signs up to make a meal for the other families one time per week. When it is your turn, deliver meals to participating families and vice versa. This is a bit more labor intensive, on your night to cook, however with several other nights free, time allowed for food prep and cleanup is kept to a minimum. This allows time to eat a filling and nutritious meal after soccer practice or a late night at the office. Preparing a meal for others can be as simple as adding a few extra pieces of meat, or fresh fish to the grill, and making sides of salad and garlic bread. Sharing a meal does not mean cooking food for a ten-course meal with dessert.
Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.
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