THE SECRET to SUCCESS? PLANNING!
If you are returning to work, then advance planning is the key to providing healthy and varied family meals and snacks. A meal plan should include: food shopping, food preparation, cooking, and clean up.
- Have a shopping list. Keep a jotter and pen near the fridge or cooker and write down what groceries are needed as you move through the week. To save time and energy when shopping, split your shopping list into the sections of the store (e.g. fruit and vegetable section, frozen aisle), and fill in the groceries needed for each section.
- Who’s going with you? If your toddler is going through a stage of being very distracting during shopping, it may be easier for one parent to do the grocery shopping alone. If you do have to bring your toddler along, then make it easier on yourself by reading Surviving the Supermarket first!
- Shop at off-peak times. Consider shopping early in the morning, especially at the weekend. It’s more efficient and you can get fresher produce.
- Shop online. If your week has been especially hectic, doing the grocery shopping online can save on time, money and impulse buys.
- Keep it simple. Family meals can be varied and healthy without being complicated. Add seasonal vegetables and fruit to meals and snacks to keep them interesting.
- Have a meal cycle. Have a weekly or fortnightly cycle of meals to make planning and budgeting for meals easier.
- Get everyone on board! Encourage all family members to help in preparing or making the meal. Include your toddler in simple tasks. Perhaps they could set their place at the table, or stir a mixture with you? This will help them feel included. Making Mealtimes Matter has good tips for getting your toddler involved!
- Cook once and eat twice. Got an extra twenty minutes in the kitchen? Then double the ingredients and cook an extra batch of a meal for freezing. Keep these meals for when you are busy.
- Make freezer-friendly meals. Casseroles, soups and sauces all freeze very well. Once they have cooked and cooled down, store them in suitable lidded containers and mark with the date of freezing.
- Freeze safely. Use all frozen meals within two months of freezing.