A baby or a toddler demands nearly all your time, attention, and energy from sunrise to sundown. It is exhausting. Just thinking about making a home-cooked meal can be overwhelming and daunting. So, how do you manage cooking a meal with a baby or toddler at home?
We all want to save time in the kitchen and make cooking easier, faster, and even quieter! Whether buying a food processor or ready-to-eat foods, we have felt desperate to learn how to better manage our time in the kitchen. Here are some tried and tested tips that can help you manage cooking a meal at home.
- Make a list of your family’s favorite dishes. Make a list of everything you can cook, including your daily favorites. You don’t have to write the recipes; having the list will help you decide when you are pressed for time.
- Make a plan. Make a basic meal plan theme that you may use week after week. Keep a running menu and shopping list. Then you don’t have to overthink when you get that chance to cook or shop. The basic concept is to choose a theme for each day of the week — Saturday Pasta, Sunday One Pot, Monday Chicken, and so on…
- Minimize how many times you cook. You can cook big batches of food at the beginning of the week; it can be a key to managing busy schedules. Focus on one marathon cooking session a week to prep a few meals, or if time permits, you can prepare and cook once a day. Embrace passive cooking. You can roast a couple of chickens, freeze one, and have your protein sorted for a few meals.
- Invest in time-saving appliances and gadgets. Appliances simplify our lives and save us time. Rice cooker, Slow Cooker, Roti maker, sandwich grill, pressure cooker, a food processor, a good blender, microwave oven, and juicer. They don’t save just time but are real-life savers for parents with little children.
- Meal prep beforehand. Meal prep is essential. You need to take out that chicken for thawing the next day, or you can chop all the onions and garlic or peel vegetables for the whole week. Or you can use canned corn, peas, mushrooms, beans, etc. It saves you time, and you have stuff ready. You should also take inventory of your kitchen from time to time to help prevent wastage and give you ideas on what’s in your kitchen.
- Use a timer creatively. It can help you remember when to check the meal for doneness and when to proceed to the next stage. You can also remind yourself when to turn on the oven for preheating.
- When possible, seek assistance. While you work, partners or older children can learn to participate in, take over, cook for, or care for the infant. You can schedule cooking when you have your partner with you, or when your baby is older, you can bring him into the kitchen with you.
- Lower your expectations. If your meals aren’t balanced, or your menu repeats frequently, that’s perfectly fine. You’ll have plenty of time to prepare your gourmet dinners.
Go easy on yourself. It can be such a transitional time if you just had a baby. The most essential thing is to let go of your guilt and do your best.