Aug 31, 2021
Back to school is a mixed blessing for parents. On one hand, it brings some much-needed peace and quiet to the house, but on the other, it also means changing routines. Suddenly, the days of late meals and do-it-yourself dinners give way to a timetable.
Never fear; before you start getting overwhelmed or considering take-out regularly, check out some of these ideas and hacks to help you get ahead of the game. In no time, you’ll be producing excellent, high-quality meals that your family will be cheering for.
Groceries: Let Co-op Help!
A big part of the meal-prep game is won and lost at the grocery store. If you don’t buy the items you need, you won’t be able to make the meals you want. Co-op stocks everything you need to make quick meals, elaborate dinners or to prep healthy snacks too.
Try a Grocery App
It might be time to leave the days of the hand-scrawled list behind and look at using a grocery app. There are many out there, and they have the advantage of tracking all of the items you’ve added, so you just need to tap the item to put it back on the “to get list.”
You’ll get in the habit of adding items to the list as soon as they run out, and many apps allow you to organize your list into departments, so you can save time at Co-op, not having to run back across the store to grab something that out of place on a handmade list.
Make Meal Plans
Having a meal plan will go a long way in cutting out wasted foods and ensuring you have everything you need. The occasional impulse purchase is fine, but if you go to the store with no idea what meals you’re going to make, you’ll find yourself missing ingredients.
When you’re in the meat department, check out the sales to see if anything grabs your fancy. Something you use regularly will likely be on sale, whether it’s chicken thighs, Only Alberta Beef, or Cal & Gary’s Pork. Remember you can freeze anything you have leftover.
In the Kitchen
Once you have your ingredients, it’s time to cook. Use a leftover-based plan to save time during the week. While no one likes to eat the same meal over and over, it’s easy enough to make a larger batch of, say, chicken on Saturday for BBQ chicken night, and then keep the leftovers and turn them into chicken tacos on Tuesday.
Get those veggies into the kids by preparing fruit smoothies with added veg. Veggies like spinach and kale, carrots, even beets or zucchini can be added to smoothies with strong fruit flavours, and you can use fresh or frozen. The kids won’t even notice them, and you’ll save yourself from a nightly “eat your spinach” showdown. Make a blender full for the whole family: Everyone wins!
Science is Your Friend
If you haven’t invested in time-saving kitchen tools, you’re probably working a lot harder than you need to. Investing in plastic containers for leftovers and school lunches will save you time, keep things organized, and save space in the fridge.
Countertop appliances will help you get things done ahead of time. Rice cookers will free up the stove or microwave while you cook other things, and they’re pretty much a set it and forget it item.
Instant Pots allow you to slow cook meals (but faster) and also give you another option for searing/sautéing/braising without the stove. Sous Vide machines let you put steak or chicken in early in the day without worrying about overcooking or ruining them.
Family meals can be a source of stress and effort, or they can be a great time to gather together and talk about the day. The more you can do ahead of time, the less you’ll have to do at the moment.
Let Co-op help you keep the fridge and pantry stocked and watch for our tasty, healthy recipe ideas too.
Written by Chef Liana
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