There seem to be two thoughts that a lot of us moms have in common every day around dinnertime, and the first is, "Why on earth isn't my personal chef here yet?" OK, not really, but I'm only half-joking about this. While it would be incredibly luxurious to have a Chef de cuisine in our home kitchens, this is the real world we're living in. More realistically, our first thought is typically along the lines of what can we make that is good for our little wolf pack, and the second is that we hope it won't take forever to prepare (since, as it turns out, we're the Chef de cuisines of our households).
As a mom of two boys, any tip that can save me time, money, and energy is considered good intel. That's especially true after a busy day chock-full of carpooling, appointments, errands, school, and work, when a healthy and easy meal feels like a pipe dream.
I know firsthand how stressful this can feel, which is why I'm so excited that Romper has partnered with Peapod to bring you a few truly game-changing food-prep, shopping, and cooking hacks to make sure that preparing a healthy meal is convenient — because goodness knows you've got bigger fish to fry (pun intended).
1Prep Breakfast Before The Morning Chaos
Chances are high that you don't have time to be cooking eggs to order when you're trying to get your family out the door, so allow me to introduce you to make-ahead eggs in a muffin tin. Just grease the tin, crack eggs into them, and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If your family is partial to scrambled, you can whisk an egg into a mug and microwave it for 45 seconds.
2Store A Few Bananas In The Freezer To Make This Speedy Dessert
You've probably seen those big, clunky, and overly complicated ice cream makers on cooking shows. They require a lot of ingredients, and are a gamble in terms of the finished product. Here's an easy solve for the sweet tooth in your family: Freeze some bananas, then use a potato masher to mash them up, adding whatever toppings your kids are craving. It's freshly made "nice cream," ready the moment they (or you) want it most.
3Skip The Store And Order Groceries Online
This is one of those moments where, as a mom, I'm just so thankful that the internet exists. Peapod is an online grocery shopping service with fresh and nutritious meal options, delivered to your door when you need them. The produce is super fresh and comes from a store you already trust, plus they offer meal kits that you can whip up in a flash. All of this is to say that you no longer have to worry about the whole loading up the kids, wrangling them through the aisles, and trying to get home in one piece situation.
4Whip Up Super-Filling Baked Potatoes Faster Than Ever
It takes a lot of patience to wait for a potato to bake, and if your kids are anything like mine, they're not the most patient while waiting for dinner. I've learned to prep baked potatoes or sweet potatoes in the microwave, since it takes just five minutes compared to an hour in the oven. Just wash them, use a fork to poke a few holes in the potatoes so they don't explode, then cook for five to six minutes in the microwave and you're ready to roll.
5Keep Your Kids Distracted With A Fun First Course
I love when my boys are excited to help in the kitchen, and lately I've been having them de-stem their own strawberry snacks by poking a drinking straw through the bottom of the berry and popping the stem out. While they're distracted (and snacking and having a blast, mind you), I'm quickly finishing up preparing the rest of their meal without having to stop and chase them through the house.
6Know This Quick Tip For Crunchy Nuggets
Whether your kid's nugget of choice is chicken, fish, or cauliflower, it's best to always be prepared to whip it up for those hangry moments when nothing else will do. If you don't have the frozen variety handy, try popping some rice cereal in the food processor, and use it as a breadcrumb replacement in a pinch. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, et voilà: homemade breading.
7Use Kitchen Shears To Serve Food To Hungry Kids Faster
Why should you wait for something to cool, then transfer it to a cutting board before you chop it? Use your kitchen scissors to get the job done right away. I use my kitchen shears to chop up perfectly cooked veggies, freshly boiled spaghetti, and more — right in my kid's bowl or plate.
8Plan Ahead To Avoid A Vegetable Meltdown
Let's all just agree that we have zero extra time in our days to convince our kids that vegetables aren't poison. The best fix? Just hide them. Fold veggies like sweet potatoes or pureed carrots into a cheddar macaroni and cheese, cauliflower into mashed potatoes, or grated zucchini into muffins. Whether they know it or not, the more veggies they're eating, the better everyone feels.