What is it about virtual learning that has kids wanting to eat out of the kitchen all of the time? If you feel like you are just constantly grocery shopping, preparing meals + assembling snacks + washing the dishes, you aren’t alone!
There is an unprecedented experience for families right now in that the kids are home for a lot more time + no one really has any set norms around what meals + snacks should look like throughout the entire day. If you want the kitchen to have some downtime, you likely need to intervene + start setting reasonable boundaries that meets your family’s needs but also allows you to get out of the kitchen + tackle everything else on your to-do list. Let’s look at what you can do to accomplish that!
The best thing to do is make a schedule. It’s up to you whether it’s something you just have in the back of your mind or a schedule you post for the whole family to see. Generally, you can expect the family to have three solid meals a day + two to three snacks.
In having this plan for how often your family is going to be eating, you can do a better job of planning your groceries for the week. You also can decide for yourself how you are going to tackle these times as you go through your day.
Here are some questions to keep in mind:
As you work through these questions, really think about how you can bring structure to everyone’s day + maximize your use of time on meals in a more efficient + healthy way.
Even with a schedule, it can be very time-consuming to support 5-6 meal times a day. Think about the best ways to maximize efficiency so that you’re optimizing the time you have each day for everything you need to accomplish. Here are some ideas to help get you started:
Keep ready-to-eat fruit + veggies nearby. Stock the station with healthy snacks. Some of our favorites are Hippies, Made Good granola snacks, Skinny Pop, Nature’s Bakery fig bars, homemade fruit or veggie muffins, hard-boiled eggs + yogurt. Really prioritize balanced plates with an emphasis on high protein in order to make the snacks satiating.
Consider making a combo menu that gives your kids choice but also guides their choices to balanced selections. Examples might be:
Think about anything you can do in batches + make it happen!
It’s also to be realistic that you may not have the actual time for all of this! Start thinking about how mealtime responsibilities can be shared with family members or even outsourced!
Determine which meals or snacks could be on a self-serve basis. Put systems in place that allow you to support independence + self-sufficiency. Kids like knowing what they can do for themselves. It might start with being responsible for refilling their water bottle + scaling up to getting their own snacks or making lunchtime sandwiches.
Make snack or meal prep a rotating or consistent chore for your kids to do, even if it’s just something they help with on the weekend (it’s a start).
Determine mealtime responsibilities, decide who can do what. Even my preschooler helps spray down her spot at the table, wipe it clean + put away her placemat. It is okay to hold the expectation that everyone does their part to keep the home tidy + clean! You can include other things like clearing the plates, doing the dishes, emptying the trash or vacuuming. These might be for one meal a day or all of them, whatever works for your family!
Delegate grocery shopping to your partner. Or, try ordering your groceries for pickup or delivery. So many stores are offering this service for free right now. I love the option to throw the kids in the car with no shoes on, drive up to Whole Foods + open the trunk. Or I just send Jason. It’s such a game-changer, costs me nothing + saves so much time.
Try planning out your meals at least a week at a time. You don’t have to buy all of the groceries at once or prep ingredients that far in advance but if you can plan out several weeks’-worth of meals in one sitting, you’ll save so much time! If you’d like, I have a whole post on how I meal plan + it includes a free template for you to use!
So many grocery stores have this option available + I love that the packaging is minimal waste. On a national level, I personally like Green Chef because the ingredients are always healthy-leaning + organic. They also have an option called If you’re in Chicago, consider Madison + Rayne for the absolute best, local option (tell them I sent you + they’ll take good care of you)!
Set aside time to have a sincere conversation with everyone about why you want to make a change, how it will benefit everyone + invite collaboration. If your family understands your ‘why’ behind the changes, you are far more likely to have their support. Just remember to keep the conversation outcome-driven rather than focusing on blame or complaints because that never ends well for anyone!
In working smarter you are saving yourself so much time + energy that is being wasted on maintaining a 24-hour kitchen. I’m excited for you to start seeing the difference these small changes can make for you + your family! Share your favorite tips that you’re excited to try in the comments below, I love hearing what you are going to do at home.
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Mom life is complex,
but it doesn't have to be complicated.
LET'S SIMPLIFY THINGS.