Truthfully, I don’t have it all together when it comes to mealtime. I’ll just be totally and completely honest right off the bat here. But really, do any of us with multiple children have it all together when mealtime rolls around? Doubtful! There are, however, a few tips and tricks I keep in my back pocket on our particularly busy nights to make meal times a little easier. Because after working an 8 hour day with a long commute to and from work, I have very little patience left at the end of the day for the chaos that can ensue at dinner time!
1. Keep Meals Flexible: This is something that we’ve started doing ever since I’ve started eating Whole30/Paleo. Since Cory isn’t necessarily a fan of the no-gluten/grains and no-dairy lifestyle and I don’t expect him or the girls to adhere to those expectations, I end up making a variety of things for dinner to make everyone happy. This is easy to do if you select things that can be easily adjust to please everyone’s taste buds. For example, tacos. I make a taco salad for myself and Cory eats his in a tortilla. Alea and Mckenna usually eat a cheese quesadilla instead and everyone is happy! No whining over the options– that makes the minimal extra effort completely worth it to me.
2. Keep Easy Options on Hand: Some nights Cory is gone at showings or has meetings with the fire department. I know my girls don’t care if I make a 3-course meal or if I’m serving up something easy so I ALWAYS go the easy route on these nights. I serve up a variety of fruits and vegetables and Mckenna gets a Parents Choice “squeezie” pouch as well.
When it comes to baby food pouches, I always grab for Parents Choice brand at Walmart first. The value and quality is unmatched. They’re quality foods made from quality ingredients and I feel 110% confident giving them to Miss Mckenna. I love that they’re available where we already buy our groceries every week– Walmart– and they have a wide variety of different foods to choose from. They even have some new high-protein options such as Chicken Noodle and Cheesy Potatoes with Pork Loin. Every morning for breakfast, Mckenna gets a pouch with some cereal and I can’t even tell you how much that saves me in the morning! It’s great knowing she’s getting some fruits and veggies, there’s minimal clean-up and she can feed herself with the pouches! Winning!
3. Plan Ahead: I can’t even stress this enough. If you have busy weeknights then you NEED to make time to plan ahead on the weekend. There’s just no other way to do it without losing your marbles every night trying to figure out what in the world to make for dinner while the kids are screaming and your husband is “dying” of hunger. My meal planning is very simple. I keep a list of meals that we like to make and scope out a few new ones that sound good to try and make my grocery list from the ingredients needed for those recipes. I grocery shop, and then if I can prep a few things for each meal (i.e. brown hamburger, marinate chicken, chop veggies, etc) I’ll do that as well. I then make put the meals for each day of the week on a chalkboard in our kitchen and in my planner so I always know what’s for dinner! Easy peasy and it seriously saves us during the week!
And that’s it! Seems pretty simple, right? Now, like I said before, I know it’s not always easy to please everyone when it comes to meal time, but if you follow those three steps above, I can assure you that things will be even just a little bit better. Dinner time is important family time and we try so, so hard in our house not to skimp on that time together. Another way to make that time more enjoyable is to think up a few conversation starter questions to get the conversation going as well. It’s easy to say “Hey, how was your day?” and get a “Good.” in response, but maybe make those questions a little more open-ended and you’ll be amazed at the conversations that begin.
The Parents Choice brand at Walmart has a wide variety of products in addition to the baby food pouches, as well. They have you covered with everything from diapers and wipes to formula and even bedding! They’re also planning to transition their formula to GMO-free by Spring 2018. You’ll have to check them out next time you’re at Walmart!
What tips do you have for making meal time easier with multiple kids?