Are your mealtime expectations realistic?

Most of us need at least 21 meals each week. 21!! Feeding yourself can be a lot of work. Feeding a whole family can be downright overwhelming at times.  Recipes with 33 ingredients and 17 steps just aren’t going to work for busy individuals and families. Sometimes social media will have us think we should be making beautiful, eye-catching food from scratch. Well, that’s not reality for most of us. I’ve had clients tell me, “I wish I could just pop a pill and be done with it. It’s just too much work to eat all the time.” Well, since there’s no such pill, perhaps a bit of brainstorming will be more productive. Plus, while getting meals on the table can be taxing, I hope that it can bring some joy and satisfaction too. If it’s not, perhaps it’s time to reassess your mealtime routine. 

What would help you get meals on the table? Would letting go of some mealtime expectations help? I discuss this with the moms at The New Mom School regularly, because one of the biggest nutritional struggles they identify is making TIME to eat. Yet, getting regular meals in is vital. 

Here are some of the ideas that have come out of our discussions:

  • Asking a partner, nanny or family member for help (One mom said her partner grills on the weekend so they have a supply ready for the week.)

  • Grocery delivery (service fee often waived with minimum purchase)

  • Meal prep services such as One Potato Box or Sun Basket

  • Picking up semi-prepared foods (e.g., rotisserie chicken or pre-made pizza crust)

  • *Batch cooking (Doubling up and freezing extras is so helpful. If you’re already making a mess in the kitchen, might as well make some extra! I love Ellie Krieger’s ’sbook “You Have it Made” for it’s make ahead ideas.)

  • *Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

  • Ordering take-out

  • *Utilizing freezer meals

  • *Simplifying meals (ready-made soup w/grilled cheese or bean and cheese burritos using boxed beans, shredded cheese and frozen rice)

  • *If kids are old enough, have them make 1 meal/week (great way to build cooking skills and learn responsibility)

  • Sheet pan recipes (fabulous for less mess and hands-free cooking)

Now I realize that many of these suggestions require a level of privilege. If your grocery budget is a major factor in your meal prep, consider checking out the blog Budget Bytes for some great low-cost meal prep ideas or check out those suggestions above with an (*). What are your go-to ideas for simplifying meal time and decreasing the overwhelm?