For the family foodie, the kitchen is a place of sensorial delights. When you’re cooking for kids, however, it often takes some extra creativity to make time and tastes come together. Between juggling the unique palates of various family members and trying to make it fit in with the busy Mom-life schedule, it can often be a major accomplishment just to get some macaroni and cheese on the table. Fortunately, the following four cooking hacks can make meal-prep easier without sacrificing the quality that you and your family deserve.
Make Your Own Mixes
Prepping dry food ahead of time makes cooking a whole lot easier. It also makes it easier for everyone in the house to grab something and go. Unfortunately, most grab-and-go items that you can buy in the store are filled with unhealthy fats, lots of sodium, preservatives, and other chemicals that you don’t want your kids to load up on. However, savvy home cooks know that recipes in a jar offer great and healthy alternatives. Oatmeal, pancake mix, bean soups, and other everyday staples are just a few of the things that you can get most of the prep done ahead of time. Gourmet recipes in jars also make nice gifts to send from one foodie to another. Instead of buying cheap store-bought mixes, create your own “just add water and an egg” mixes that will give you the freedom to make high quality dishes in a fraction of the time.
Invest in Good Cookware
Having the right cookware can mean the difference between putting out a beautiful pie, a scrumptious soup, or scraping charred remnants into the trash. If you’re a home gourmand, then you can’t really afford to not have luxury cookware. Making an investment in higher quality cookware to start will save you time and money as it will make it easier to provide consistent quality in your cooking, and save you from having to frequently replace low-quality materials. High-end cookware like copper saucepans or pie tins will last longer and give higher quality results. Copper conducts heat, allowing you to cook your dishes evenly. It also is more resistant to corrosion, which contributes to its longevity. Copper carries natural anti-bacterial properties, making it much easier to keep your dishes sanitized between use. Getting higher-quality blenders, mixers, and other appliances are also essential investments for those who prepare the majority of meals themselves.
One of the greatest struggles that a mom faces is making healthy eating appealing to kids. Children’s taste buds are geared to love sugar and fats, which served them well as a survival mechanism back when food was scarce. Now that these substances are more readily available, however, that tendency towards fatty foods can make it feel impossible to encourage healthy eating habits. Thankfully, visual appeal can be just as powerful as a sweet taste to younger kids. This is where having a diverse set of cookie cutters can become a serious health hack. For example, pull out some flower-shaped cookie cutters to make some flower-shaped eggs with the whites as the petals around the centered yolk. Star-shaped cucumber and apple slices, smiley-face strawberries, and spiral carrots can make a salad as visually exciting to a child as a bowl of lucky charms. Take advantage of your children’s imaginations to get them engaged in eating healthy foods.
While fruits and vegetables can be made more appealing to kids, it can be hard to when you are craving cookies and brownies along with them. Thankfully, there are ways to make desserts healthier without turning them into fruit sculptures. The biggest problem with dessert recipes today is their use of refined sugars, and these can easily be replaced with whole foods that contain the same level of sweetness, but without their own nutritional value and less danger to the body. According to Medical News Today, dates contain good doses of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, and potassium. They can also be ground in the blender to create a sweet sugar substitute. Swap out refined cane sugar for dates in dishes like cookies, oatmeal, and cakes, and other baked treats. Take advantage of their natural nutty flavor and use them to make a delicious seasonal fudge. Other options for whole-food substitutes include unrefined coconut sugar, molasses, raw and unfiltered honey, and all-natural maple syrup.
Whether you’re just starting out in the kitchen or you’ve been your home’s master chef for years, there’s always more to learn to make meal-making easier. As a mother, giving your family the highest-quality food is a major priority and essential to protecting their health. Whether you’re crunched for time or the kids are losing interest in healthy eating options, a little research can reveal a treasure trove of tricks and tips refined by mothers before you to make home cooking attainable for everyone.