Feeding Your Family on Busy Nights
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Life’s busy! There’s no denying it. What does your day look like? Get up, get the kids off to school, and yourself off to work? 8-9 hours of watching the clock and thinking about the never-ending “to-do list” at home? Never fully engaged at work because there’s so much to do after work.
Then, you finally get home by say 5:30, and one, or both, or all, of the kids have a game or practice that starts at 6:00, dinner is out of the question until the game is over, which makes it about 7:30 or 8 by the time the family has time to eat? At this point, all you can think about is a shower and getting everyone off to bed, forget about spending any time cooking! So, what do you do? Microwave? Fast Food? Leftovers? If this sounds familiar, I totally understand, been there, done ALL that!
Meal Planning Makes All the Difference!
It can be challenging at times. We all want our kids to be involved in sports and activities, and do what they love. Work and kid’s activities creates a lot of stress and mixed emotions for us moms. I’m just a naturally anxious person, so when life gets hectic and feels out of control, I’m not well. I need organization and a sense of control in my life.
Write it Down
It literally takes 5 minutes some weeks for me to meal plan. I’ll grab a scrap piece of paper and write down Monday – Friday, and then assign a simple meal to each day. That way if I’m not home, my husband can at least start dinner if he is, but he’ll only do this if he knows what to cook. Forget about him coming up with any ideas on his own, he’d rather just go grab something and be done with it.
Not only is eating out expensive, but it’s hard to know exactly what goes into the food you’re family’s eating. I find it’s also, much easier to overeat if you eat out. Instead of listening to our bodies, there’s a slight guilt in not eating the food we just paid a little too much for. So just jot down your plan and stick it up on the refrigerator for everyone to see.
Suggestions for Quick, Easy Meals
I though I’d share a few meal ideas and suggestions that we use. Hopefully, you can implement a few of them into your own meal plan.
- Salad in a bag + protein (tuna, chicken, bacon, almond slices, seeds)
- Crock pot meals (Here’s a site with some great, healthy ideas) I’m not the best at remembering to put something in the crock pot, among the hustle and bustle of the morning, but if you can put everything together in the fridge the night before, it makes your mornings go a bit more smooth.
- Deli sandwiches – this can be as simple or complicated as you want. Remember to use whole grain bread, choose lean, minimally processed, nitrate free meats, and add some veggies either on the sandwich or on the side.
- Tuna salad wrap or sandwich– Make ahead some tuna salad and have it ready to go. Again, make sure you are using a whole grain bread or tortilla for a good source of filling fiber and energy.
- Grilled Cheese or Grilled PB & J on whole grain bread with raw fruits and veggies
- Chipotle – I’m including this because it’s our go to. It’s surprisingly affordable for our family. My husband and I usually split a bowl, the kids get “kid’s meals” and we spend less the $20, we do this maybe once a week. It’s a healthy, quick, reliable meal that the whole family actually agrees on. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like making or cleaning anything. (Helpful tip: Keep the sour cream and cheese to a small portion and pass on the chips! If you don’t bring them home, you won’t eat them, that simple!)
- Pasta with your Favorite Sauce and Protein – Pasta is one of the quickest meals to make. I can have a batch of spaghetti ready in about 10 minutes. Remember to use whole grain pasta to fuel your little athletes!
- Chicken Nuggets or Tenders with a Veggie – Dare I even say it? Let’s face it, kids love chicken nuggets. As long as we’re feeding them good quality meat, we should feel just fine about feeding them something we know they like. (Just look for chicken raised without antibiotics or hormones, free range is even better, but more pricey).
- Frozen Cauliflower crust pizza – Kids like pizza, and popping a pizza in the oven while everyone’s getting around is pretty easy. The cauliflower crust has actually been a big hit at our house, and I feel pretty good about them eating pizza. (Costco carries a good one, and there’s also an “O’ That’s Good” Oprah brand we really like).
- Quesadillas – cheese, chicken, or tuna, and a veggie, they can be ready in about 10 minutes.
Whatever you need to do to provide your family with the nutrition that keeps them healthy and strong. Keep fresh or frozen fruit and veggies always on hand for an easy side item. Make the main dish simple, with a little protein and fiber to fill them up and sustain their energy.
Planning is Key!
As I said earlier, write it all down. If you know you have a busy week ahead of you, plan the meals out ahead of time, even the trips to pick up dinner. Let’s face it, sometimes it’s just nice not to have to do any dishes!
Another trick that I’ve found that makes the meal planning easier in my house, is to assign a type of food to each night of the week. For example, Mondays are Meatless, Tuesdays are Mexican, Wednesday are Basic, Thursdays are Seafood, and Fridays for pizza type items!
Here is an example of a meal plan I’ve used in the past.
So, don’t stress Momma, you got this! Keep it simple, remember the basics. Protein, Whole Grains (Fiber), and Fruits and Veggies. No one is perfect, life’s not perfect, you’re doing the best you can. Just ask yourself is everyone happy and healthy? If the answers are yes – pat yourself on the back, you’re doing a GREAT job!!!