Four Simple Strategies To Help Busy Parents
Have you ever found yourself staring into your refrigerator at 6:00, wondering what to make for dinner, while the kids are fighting, the dogs are barking and the phone is ringing? It can be tempting to just call for Chinese takeout or open a frozen pizza.
Meal planning expert and mother of two Aviva Goldfarb, Founder and CEO of The Six O’Clock Scramble (www.thescramble.com) and author of SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue; Earth-Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Dinners for Busy Families (St Martin’s Press, April 2010) shares her four simple strategies to help busy parents cook four to six nights per week, and actually save time and money by doing so. It may sound challenging, but with a little preparation, making healthy, delicious dinners can be even easier, faster and cheaper than take-out.
1. Keep Meals Simple. Only cook recipes that take less than 30 minutes to prepare, with many taking 10 or 15 minutes. No matter what recipes you use, match a simple main dish with one to two quick side dishes to balance out flavor and nutrition.
2. Get Organized and Prepare a Weekly Menu. Don’t let the grocery aisles be the inspiration for the week’s dinners – inevitably pantry staples and essentials will be forgotten requiring an additional trip to the store or igniting the “what to cook for dinner” dilemma. Take ten minutes each week to prepare a weekly menu. Base the grocery list on this menu so the ingredients always exist to cook dinner. Also, post the list so that family members can note when they run out of something.
3. Keep A Well-Stocked Kitchen. A well-stocked pantry is essential to ensuring that a meal can be prepared quickly at any time and without an additional trip to the store. Sample healthy and inexpensive meal essentials are canned beans (for burritos or taco salads), tortillas (everything’s better inside a tortilla!), eggs (omelets, scrambles or frittatas), frozen vegetables and other healthy side dishes to round out the meal.
4. Get the Kids in the Kitchen. Involve the kids in the kitchen, no matter the age. If babies, hang their jumper in the doorway so they can bounce to music while cooking. If toddlers, have them assist with safe tasks like husking corn, stirring dry ingredients or cleaning produce. For older kids, have them set the table, peel vegetables, or spin the salad dry. Not only is it a great bonding experience, but kids (especially picky eaters) are far more likely to eat something that they helped prepare!
This information was excepted from the book SOS! The Six O'Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth-Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Dinners for Busy Families. To see where you can purchase the book, visit www.thescramble.com or www.amazon.com.