Shortcuts to Healthier Eating for Moms of All Stripes

Since all moms are working moms, and the one thing none of us have enough of is time, we’ve put together our favorite shortcuts for getting healthier snacks and weeknight meals buttoned up. If you have any good tricks – please share them by posting a comment!

• Prep Healthy Snacks in Advance: on Sunday night after all the little ones are in bed asleep, grab a few carrots, a cucumber, and an apple. Chop them up into snack-sized pieces and put them into Ziploc bags so anyone can grab a healthy nibble during the week. It takes 5 minutes – 7 max!

• Build Around Basics: cook the same staples over and over again – and spice them up with a veggie. The more you cook something, the easier and faster it becomes. Prepare the same basics (e.g. chicken and rice, rice and beans, fish and couscous) Monday, Wednesday and Friday and simply add a new and different vegetable into the mix each night. It feels like you’re eating something different, but the routine is the same.

• Get Some Knife Skills: find a local culinary school and sign up for a basic knife skills class. If you’re married, enroll your spouse too and make a date of it (it’s a pretty manly thing to learn and you’ll have another pair of skilled hands to help you!). Knowing how to cut things up can literally reduce prep time by 10 – 20 minutes for basic meals and even 30 minutes for things like veggie lasagnas.

• Turn On Your Crock Pot: the crock pot is an incredible inventions that truly makes cooking dinner easier. Simply set it up in the morning, and when you walk in the door, dinner is ready. Click on the links below for delicious recipes:
Top 20 Slow Cooker Main Dishes
Top 12 Favorite Crockpot Recipes

• End Multiple Meal Madness: it’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking you have to make multiple meals to accommodate picky eaters. Kids are developing their ego/sense of self and snacks/meals are one of their preferred battlegrounds. We say, don’t engage, because you’ll lose every time. The fact of the matter is kids want to mimic older children and adults, so serve them what you’re having and eventually their curiosity will win the day. If a child is hungry, he’ll eat anything. If he’s not hungry, there’s no need to force the issue. If your husband or best friend doesn’t finish everything on their plate or picks around something, do you make a big deal of it? No! Why should your child be any different?

• Delegate, delegate, delegate:
– Keep a running shopping list on a notepad in the kitchen that anyone can take to the store to buy the groceries at any point during the week. If you have staples you always need to buy,
– Have kids over 3 but under 10 set the table and kids over 10 help prep the meal.
– On Sunday afternoon, have each member of the family pick the menu for one night of the week. That’s a few less meals for you to figure out AND you’ll know at least one other person will like what’s for dinner that night!
– Institute the rule: if you cooked it, you’re off the hook for cleaning up and doing the dishes.

• Prep Staples in Advance: if you use vegetables like onions, carrots and broccoli in a lot of different meals, pre-prep them all at once when you have time. Keep them fresh in Ziploc bags in the fridge so they’re ready to go when you need them in a flash during the week. This can cut 10-20 minutes from your nightly meal routine! If you’re using browned meat or grilled chicken in a few recipes during the week – brown it/grill it when you get it home from the store and put it in the fridge so all you have to do during the week is reheat.

• Double the Recipe: once or twice a week, double the recipe you’re making. That way you’ll have a meal that you can freeze and have at the ready on another night when you don’t have to cook. You’re making the same thing you were already, just more of it. Use the frozen meal on a night when you need a “get out of the kitchen free” card.

• Go Green: you can make pretty incredible salads in about 10 minutes. Just go to the fridge, take out all the veggies you have, find a protein, cut it all up and throw it together in a bowl. Voila – you’ve got a delicious, hearty meal. If you think kids/husbands won’t eat it – you’re underestimating the power of ranch dressing (or the game of choosing the best salad dressing).

• Prepare for Chaos: let’s face it, there are going to be days and nights when there’s just no way you’re going to be able to get something home made on the table. Have some healthier options, like a Bertolli frozen dinner or an Annie’s Pizza on hand, so you’re not heading out for super fatty fast food at the eleventh hour.