Simple Tips for Reducing Mealtime Stress
Nov 26, 2018
While eating around the dinner table might be relaxing, getting the whole family there with a healthy and home-cooked meal on everyone’s plate might be quite the hassle. Especially with school and fall in full-time force, you need to bounce hectic schedules, shorter days, and most likely a picky eater or two.
We’re here to help. Mealtime, whether that’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, doesn’t need to be full of stress. If you enjoy cooking, we want you to keep it that way! Here are some tips to bring back the fun in food and ensure that the whole family is appreciative and relaxed when it’s time to dig in.
Let’s Toast to This: How to Ease Meal Time Anxiety
Set a routine.
The easiest way to make something a habit is to form a routine. While your schedule may vary day-to-day, consider how you can set a schedule for when you start cooking and who is helping out.
- Set a time to start cooking every evening. If you’re home from work by 5:00 pm and the family doesn’t have any evening activities on Mondays and Wednesdays, use those evenings to start cooking at 5:30 pm, so everyone is happy and fed by 7:00 pm. If there are other days when the family is getting home later, you can adjust your schedule accordingly. The main thing is to stick to whatever times you create for yourself.
- Prep in the morning. If morning meal prep is your fancy, enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning and scan the internet for fun recipes you can make at night.
- Get ahead of schedule. Sometimes, making lunches the night before is a lot easier than doing it the morning of. While this might be a harder habit to start, try to prepare lunches while everyone is (hopefully) in the kitchen helping you clean up from dinner. That way it’s one less thing to worry about the next morning.
The easiest way to help stick to a routine is to prep your meals. This could look like a few different things:
- Carve out an afternoon. A lot of people enjoy using Sunday’s as a meal prep day. You can take an afternoon to make a big batch of soup, roast a few pans of veggies, make some meatballs, and cook up quinoa or couscous. This will help to make the actual meal a lot easier during the week, and will especially assist when it comes to packing lunches for school.
- Make a list. Instead of scanning the aisles at the grocery store, figure out what meals you want to make during the week and create a grocery list that hits on all the ingredients you’ll need. That way you’ll have just enough of everything and will be less likely to splurge on unnecessary foods and will save some money, too.
- Freeze big batches of food. Lastly, a lot of folks enjoy making meals and freezing them. If you know you have a busy few weeks coming up, you can make things like lasagna, homemade veggie burgers, soups, and burritos, and then stick them in the freezer. These are always great to have on hand if you run into a busy evening and don’t have time to whip something up yourself.
Get a helping hand.
You should never have to go it alone. Involving your family is a way to take all the burden off of you while making cooking a fun, family activity. Here are some ways to get some extra hands in the kitchen:
- Assign roles. A fun thing for a partner or kid to do is to assign them the “sous chef” role. This means they can do some of the chopping, prepping, blending, and mixing in the kitchen, while you focus on cooking the meal.
- Assign days. Give different people in your family cookies responsibilities throughout the week. Make Friday night “date night,” where you and your partner take turns cooking meals for one another. If one of your kids wants to learn how to make pasta, give him or her the chance to on Wednesdays. Pancakes are always a hit, too, so assign that to someone for a lazy Sunday morning.
Consider a meal kit service.
If you love to cook but hate coming up with the meals, or simply don’t enjoy getting the ingredients, then a meal service might be a great thing to consider. They’re also fun because you get to learn how to cook things you might never have thought to make yourself. Some meal services include Blue Apron, Sun Basket, and Plated. If you want to skip the cooking and have fresh, organic meals right in your own grocery aisle, we can’t help but suggest Good Food Made Simple.
While breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it can also be the most hectic, especially if everyone is trying to get out the door. Don’t worry about trying to put together a gourmet meal before 7 am; instead, streamline the process. Here are some tips:
- Make overnight oats! The night before, you can put together a batch of overnight oats that will be creamy and delicious in the morning. For one serving, grab a jar and add ½ cup of oats. Pour in one cup of milk (almond milk works great, too!), two tbsp of nuts, a tsp of cinnamon, and a quick squeeze of honey. You’ll have an instant yummy and nutritious breakfast in the morning. Or better yet, use our frozen organic oatmeal to create a fast oatmeal parfait like this!
- Blend your breakfast. Smoothies are awesome because they’re quick to make and packed with lots of vitamins and minerals. Invest in a good blender, and add a mix of frozen fruit, almond milk, protein (whether protein powder or nut butter) and a handful of spinach. Make a big batch, blend and let everyone enjoy!
Treat yo’self to takeout.
Three meals a day, seven days a week…all that cooking adds up! It’s nearly impossible to make meals all week long, so you should allow yourself some wiggle room. Here are a few fun ideas:
- Make Mondays a takeout night. While Sunday’s are notorious for some Chinese or pizza delivery, Monday’s are typically the most stressful night of the week. To ease some of that chaos, give yourself a break and order takeout at the beginning of the week.
- Look for healthy options! It’s easy to succumb to fried food when ordering in, but explore some of the healthier, to-go choices in your town.
- Rotate who chooses what meal each time. In order to give everyone a voice, each week (or however often you decide to eat-in) allow one person to choose where you’re ordering from. This lets you mix things up and is a fun way to give someone a yummy responsibility.
Making meals should be fun. Hopefully, some of these tips take the stress out of the kitchen and allow you to enjoy the process, savor the delicious and nutritious food, and ensure that the whole family is involved in mealtime prep and planning.