5 Tips to Save Your Mealtime Sanity

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Back to school (or any routine) can be welcome and overwhelming at the same time. The lead-up to to the first day is exciting and worrying, but there’s time to prepare. Time to plan the first lunch, time to pack the backpack and get the kids to bed at a decent hour. As the week goes on, forms come home, homework, after-school activities kick in and boom, you’re back in the thick of routine no matter how much you long for your lounge chair on the beach or cottage dock.

Here are my top 5 tips to keep that organized momentum going as you hit week two, five and even ten.

Meal planning

I know, I know… It’s so not sexy, but it WILL save your sanity. I have so many clients who are resistant to meal planning, and I get it. However, aspire to give it a shot. Once you’ve jotted down even a few meals, you can shop efficiently (both time and cost) and plan leftovers either for another dinner or lunch the next day. That right there is a beautiful thing. Dinner turned into lunch the next day is a solid habit in my life. There’s nothing worse than the 5:00pm thought of “what’s for dinner” and there’s nothing in the fridge or pantry to even pull off something remotely healthy. I speak from experience! Have some quick-to-cook stand-by’s in the freezer so you can pull off dinner without breaking a sweat. Cause I know even with the best planning, your freezer can be your new BFF.

Write it all down

You’re inspired, you’ve checked Pinterest and have seen all the TV segments on how to make a super healthy lunch with all those extras that kids should eat, right? As the school year starts, those lunch boxes look way more interesting than they do come December. So, write down what you send each day and make for dinner (if you’re not meal planning), what works and doesn’t, and keep that for mid-October when your brain is fried and you can’t think beyond SB&J (that’s sunbutter, not peanutbutter). My kids even have better ideas for meals as they start school. Get them to add to your list. Make lists, put them on the fridge and keep adding to them as the term goes on.

Batch cook faves

Sauce, soup, mac and cheese (the real kind), pizza, taco filling, lasagne, curry, quiche, chili, and any other favourite casserole-type dish can be made in advance and stashed in the freezer for another time. Either take an afternoon or evening to make a few batches or as you make one meal, double the recipe so you can save what’s not eaten and freeze it. It’s tempting to buy store-bought, in boxes or packages, because it seems easier. We all know homemade not only tastes better, but also has less salt, sugar and can have extra veggies added that no one knows about!

Get family involved

All this doesn’t need to land on one person’s plate (pun intended). The whole family gets to contribute. Gather ideas, do research, ask friends for recipes of meals or foods they’ve enjoyed. Everyone needs to be involved both with planning and making meals. If your kids are six and older (maybe younger), they can put some foods into their lunch containers. Start them early and as soon as they can make their whole lunch, let them. I’ll say that again. LET THEM make their own lunch. As painful as it seems, as efficient as you are, and as slow as they are, you have to let them. If you don’t, how will they learn? They won’t.

Book time off

Time off can look like an evening out, or UberEats delivery or take away from your fave joint. Friday nights are a great night for this. The week is done and everyone wants to put their feet up. That means you too, or the one who does most of the prep. Or have the kids plan Friday night’s dinner. It’s fun for them, and often hilarious for you to see what they come up with!

Although you may not have kids heading back to school, the above can get you back in the groove after the slowness of the summer. September, for some, is just like the New Year in January. Either way, these tips will work anytime of year!

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