4 Essential Meal Shortcuts for Busy Moms

4 Essential Meal Shortcuts for Busy Moms

If you’re tired of cooking family dinners, these tips are just what you need.

By Lorraine Allen

Grocery shopping, meal planning, food prepping, cooking, and serving family dinners every night is an exhausting – and sometimes frustrating – job. These shortcuts save you time (and help preserve your sanity) without skimping on nutrition or flavor. Try them the next time you’re feeling lazy at the end of a long day!

1. Forget about cooking vegetables. Buy a platter of pre-cut raw veggies – broccoli, carrots, snap peas, cauliflower, and tomatoes – and dip and serve it alongside basically any easy protein you can think of (we’re looking at you, pre-cooked supermarket rotisserie chicken!). Not only does this save you time prepping and cooking them yourself, but kids love the novelty of picking and choosing which veggies they want to eat, and they get to dip them, too. Everyone wins!

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2. When it comes to protein, think small, because small means fast. For example, you can serve a fried or scrambled egg with whole-grain toast for dinner, which is ready in minutes and always a kid-favorite. If you’re making chicken, beef, or fish, take a couple of minutes to cut it up into small, bite-sized pieces before cooking, taking a hint from those super-speedy Chinese takeout joints that always have meals ready in minutes. The smaller the pieces, the faster they cook!

3. Splurge on shortcut pasta. If you’re really pressed for time, spend the extra couple of bucks on fresh noodles – look for them in a refrigerated case near the deli department. They taste better and cook up to three times faster than some dry pasta!

4. Let someone else do some of the cooking. Here’s my favorite tip, which I learned from a chef friend who is always too fried to cook for her own family after cooking all day for a living. If you’re making any meal that involves rice, save yourself up to 45 minutes and just pick up a large takeout container of (perfectly pre-cooked!) white or brown rice for a couple of dollars at any Asian or Indian restaurant on your way home.


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The way I see it, there’s no good reason not to take advantage of a little help wherever you can find it, because less time spent hovering over the stove means more time to enjoy your family, and that is wonderful thing!

What are your favorite mealtime shortcuts?

Lorraine Allen is a writer and mom to one spunky first-grader and one squirrel-obsessed dog. You can follow their allergy-friendly cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

Image ©iStock.com/DebbiSmirnoff

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