Which young mum wouldn’t give just about anything to make dinner time run nice and smooth at their house? Today on the blog, I hand the reigns over to another mum who will share with you how she makes meal planning and preparation work for her and her young family! Thank you Megan from A Dash of Mum for taking the time to share your best tips for an easier dinner time with us!
Meal planning and preparation is a huge factor in getting dinner on the table on time at our house. When my husband is working away, it’s just me and the kiddos, so it’s really important for me to take the time to plan and prepare certain items and have everything ready to go for a smooth-running dinner time. I have a 5 month old and a 2 year old, and around dinner time it’s like the witching hour! If you have toddlers, you know that a hungry kid is a hangry kid! To avoid the hanger, we like to eat around 5 o’clock in the evenings and I try to stick to this schedule daily. As our afternoons are usually busy, I like to help myself out where I can.
One of my favourite kitchen items is our well-loved slow cooker. I love being able to ‘set it & forget it’! I can toss a bunch of items in the morning, and have a mouthwatering meal ready to go by dinner time.
Here are my easy, go-to tricks for simple meal planning:
1 | Before grocery shopping, I take stock of what we have left in the fridge, and then I hit up my Pinterest boards for some meal inspiration and make my menu plan! The menu is based on what I have to use up, what is on sale at the grocery store, and what meals look delicious that I’ve pinned. I only plan my dinner meals, since breakfast and lunch are usually an easy rotation of the same 6 things or so.
2 | After grocery shopping, when I am unloading everything, I take the extra few minutes to remove all packaging from things before putting them away. I take granola bars out of the boxes, put crackers in our air-tight containers for easy access, cereal goes in our Tupperware bins, etc. This quick step makes grabbing snacks on the go easy and helps me see when things are running low.
3 | This is where meal planning and meal preparation meet: along with step 2, I also like to chop and prep veggies after a grocery shop. So knowing that I’m making a soup, stir-fry and a taco dish, and each meal needs roughly a carrot each, I’ll make sure to peel and dice up three carrots for those dinners and pop them in a container in the fridge. Then, when I’m making dinner, it’s sooo much easier to just grab what you need that is already prepped. It’s amazing, honestly.
4 | Like I said earlier, my crock pot is so loved! This is the easiest way to cook a meal and not have to worry about it. It takes less than 10 minutes to assemble ingredients for dinner in the morning, turn the slow cooker on to low, and let it hang out for the day.
5 | Finally, my last awesome meal prep tip is to cook once and eat twice. I always make double the amount of pasta sauce, pizza sauce, pesto, burgers, meatballs, chili, etc… easy things like that. Then I use a freezer friendly Ziploc bag to store the extras, pop it in the freezer and the next time I need an easy meal, I have either pasta sauce or burgers prepped and ready to go.
I hope these tips help you out! Once you start planning and preparing your meals, you’ll wonder why you never did it before! I know I did!
Have a great day – Megan
Megan is a stay at home mum of two under three, who’s big on organisation and planning! She blogs over at A Dash of Mum, where she shares all of her favourite ways to stay organized, along with her DIYs, home decor and styling tips, recipes and fun activities and crafts for kids. Find her also on Facebook and Instagram!