Do you have a goal of cooking from scratch for your family? Check out these tips to see how I find the time as a busy mom.
I wasn’t planning on writing up a blog post about this. Cooking from scratch is something I’ve done for the better part of ten years. It’s just engrained in my lifestyle these days, and it’s not something I plan ahead for.
However, I’ve been asked how I find the time on numerous occasions now, so I thought it might be worth sharing.
Do you struggle with finding the time to cook from scratch as a busy mom? Read on for my best advice.
How to Find Time to Cook as a Busy Mom
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It’s no lie that cooking at home takes time. If you’re new to it, it can be hard to adjust to a new routine! My biggest piece of advice on this topic is to give yourself grace. You simply can’t expect to make the transition from drive-through dinners to homecooked meals overnight. These things take time, practice, and patience.
So, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage it every single day. Goals like this take one day at a time. That doesn’t mean all hope is lost, though. I’ve got some tips below that will help you start finding the time to cook from home.
Make Cooking from Scratch a Priority
It’s amazing the things that we can find the time for when they become important to us. Think about it. How many of you have time to scroll Facebook a few times a day? Or binge-watch your favorite Netflix shows? We make the time for what is important in our lives, and for me, a healthy diet is way more important than the latest episode of whatever show everyone is watching.
I want to fuel my kids’ bodies and help them be the best that they really can be. They depend on us to help them make good decisions, and what I feed them on the day-to-day matters. Sure, we hit the drive through occasionally, but I like to live by the 80-20 rule.
The day-to-day matters and so most of the time, I aim for fresh, home cooked meals, and will sacrifice the time I would have spent on something else to make it happen.
Keep Your Meals Simple
Tip number 2 is to keep your meals simple. At the end of a long day, the last thing I want to do it spend an hour or more in the kitchen cooking.
I see so many amazing looking dinner ideas that I want to try, but the truth is, I never will. I’m sure they’re fantastic, but they either take too long or require ingredients I don’t keep on hand.
A typical night for us doesn’t even involve following a recipe. Instead, I make up a healthy protein and fix a side of veggies. Sometimes, I include some pasta (I like this brand), brown rice, quinoa, or potatoes, but since I know we get plenty of carbs throughout the day, that’s not always a priority.
Build a List of Family Favorites
To help you make the transition to home cooked meals easier, I highly recommend keeping a list of meals that are a hit in your house.
Any time you try a new recipe or get a new idea that your family likes, write it down. Soon, you’ll have a list of favorites that you can rotate through. This will save you time when you meal plan. It’ll also save you cooking time, because when you make the same thing over and over, you get pretty quick at it.
Cook Extra to Freeze
No matter how much you plan, and how simple your meals are, there will be some nights where cooking just won’t happen. The kids had a late practice, someone doesn’t feel well, or you’re just plain exhausted and don’t want to stand in the kitchen.
On those nights, it’s really helpful to have something in the freezer that you can just pop in the oven or saucepan and reheat. (Afterthought: I guess most normal people would use the microwave in this instance, but I’m not really normal and don’t own one).
The best tip I can give you is to make extras of meals you can double easily. Things like casseroles, beans and rice, spaghetti sauce, soups, chili, etc. If you can make extra without a lot of effort, do it and then freeze half for another day. Trust, me, you’ll thank me when it’s ready and waiting on a rough night!
Recommended Tools & Tips to Help You Save Time While Cooking
If you want some more reading on the subject, these posts should be really helpful!
First, I really enjoyed this post about meal planning from Paige at An Uncomplicated Life. She takes a different approach to meal planning that can really save your budget and time.
And, for those nights where you really can’t even spare 20 minutes and have nothing in the freezer, check out these recipes from The Food Network! There are a few cheats in these meals (pre-made coleslaw being the one I saw right away), but for the most part, these all look amazing and so easy to make.
You can also check out this post on meal prep must-haves if you’re curious about meal prepping for the whole week at once! I go back and forth on doing this, but when I do, dinner goes much more smoothly.
Cooking from Scratch is Possible for Anyone
Cooking from scratch is possible for everyone, even busy moms. All you need is a little practice and the gentle reminder to keep things simple. Once you make fresh meals a priority, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it becomes second nature to cook at home.