Meal planning tips for working parents
by Tina Tedeschi, LiveLighter Project Officer and busy mum
- August 23, 2021
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After a year off on parental leave, it was time to get back to the office. Juggling family life and a career comes with many challenges, and I realised very quickly that it really pays to plan ahead.
After day care pick-up it’s a mad rush to feed the family, clean up, do the bath and bed routine, and get everything ready for the next day to do it all again.
Getting organised makes life so much easier! Having some of the meal prep in the bag, or a freezer meal ready to go makes it easier to avoid the temptation of takeaway. Less dinner prep in the evening means more time to spend as a family before the little one goes to sleep, and then relax with my husband and our dog before going to bed.
Here are a few tips that I use to take away some of the daily stress:
1. Meal plan
Each weekend we do a menu plan and shopping list for the week ahead and have this plan visible on the fridge. After I shop, I throw on some music and set aside a couple of hours to prepare snacks and meals for the week.
I wash, chop and store some produce straight away. I find if fruit and veg are ready to eat and visible, we are more likely to reach for these to snack on. It also makes putting a side salad together easier when everything is already washed and prepped. I cook a few meals to freeze and sometimes I freeze the chopped ingredients in zip lock bags so I can just quickly take these out to use when making dinner. Pre-prepared frozen vegies are also a great time saving option!
We have a go-to meal list that we choose from each week. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Spaghetti bolognese is a winner in my house. I like doing a double batch of bolognese sauce which I freeze in individual containers. Then all I need to do is put the sauce in the fridge the night before to defrost and cook some pasta that night.
- Zucchini slice freezes really well in cut up portions in zip lock bags. It also makes a great snack for my daughter when we’re out and about.
- Soups are great to cook and freeze in portions. Lentil soup is my usual go to.
- Curries are a staple in my house. One I often make is chickpea curry.
- I like having chicken schnitzels in the freezer ready to be cooked and eaten with salad and vegies.
- Home-made burgers are a great ‘take away’ alternative. It’s handy to have the burger patties prepared and frozen ready to be cooked for a healthy burger night.
2. Wake up earlier
No, not sleep less, but getting up before my daughter wakes up (even if it’s just 20 minutes earlier) gives me some quiet time to get in the zone.
3. Have everything ready to go the night before
Having bags packed, lunch and snacks packed, food defrosting in the fridge for dinner and clothes picked out the night before takes away some of the morning stress for our family.
My week seems to go so much smoother when I’m organised for the day, meals are planned and prepped, and I know healthy snacks are ready to be eaten.