Making all your food from scratch is no joke. I’ve always been up front about how it’s often more work and more clean up—BUT so incredibly worth it in the end, of course. This is the health of our families we’re talking about here! Despite all the extra work, once I saw the dramatic improvements to our health after we cut out processed food I knew this way of life was here to stay.
But how can one cook all their food from scratch if they have to spend 40/50/60+ hours away from home at work every week? If this is a concern of yours—you are not alone! I’ve complied some real food tips for working parents (or anyone who’s just super busy!) to help. And do remember, change can be hard at first, but over time it will eventually become your new normal.
Real Food Tips for Working Parents
- Always have a plan.
The plan does not have to be complicated by any means, but simply knowing what your family will do for the next meal can go a LONG way! Don’t get caught coming home from work at 6:30pm with starving people begging you for food that doesn’t exist. Instead – have ingredients on hand for a super simple dinner, have leftovers ready to heat up (either from your fridge or freezer – more on that below), or have your slow cooker churning away with a yummy wholesome meal in it.
- Ask for help.
All the real food meal planning/cooking/cleaning + a full-time job outside of the home is a lot for one person to take on! So I say, don’t do it. Whether you ask your spouse to split up grocery store errands (a change we recently made at our house), tell the kids they’re officially in charge of dish duty, or assign your teenager to make dinner one night a week – it is completely reasonable to ASK FOR HELP! And honestly it’s good for the kids in the long run to take on some of the responsibility anyway.
- Make your own convenience food.
Rather than grabbing a Lean Cuisine to take to work for lunch, how about a homemade version of that frozen meal instead? Or rather than giving the kids an Eggo waffle before they head out the door for school, how about a whole-grain made-from-scratch version of that waffle instead? I love to fill our extra freezer (that we bought solely for the purpose of storing extra real food) with homemade goodies such as individual portions of soups/chilis/stews, whole-grain muffins/waffles/pancakes, cooked chicken/pork/beef, and even smoothies or homemade applesauce. If you add 1 or 2 items a week to your freezer it could go a long way on those crazy busy weekdays. So next time you make homemade waffles for breakfast on the weekend, make some extra and throw them in the freezer!
- Double recipes for leftovers.
You know those leftovers I mentioned you could quickly heat up under #1? Well, those leftovers won’t be there of course if you don’t put them there! So make a point to double meals and save the leftovers whenever possible (these can also be frozen for that convenience food category we were just talking about). It’s not that much extra effort to cook twice as much while you’re already at it and dinner doesn’t get any easier than simply reheating a meal from the night before. And feel free to switch things up to keep it interesting (for example, transform leftover taco filling into quick quesadillas). When you’re cooking from scratch this much – leftovers are KING in my book!
- Consider a meal planning or meal delivery service.
This is not a sponsored mention—these services REALLY do help take some of the work off your plate! Whether it’s a meal plan and grocery list you simply print and follow or all the fresh ingredients delivered to your door, I say do whatever it takes to keep the made-from-scratch meals coming together in your kitchen!
Lastly, it’s important to remember—don’t be too hard on yourself. Running a household is a lot of work for anyone. There’s no need to lay on the guilt if you have an unexpected take-out or pizza delivery night. Just get back on the wagon the following day and do your best! Please share your good advice with us in the comments.