The Mom Life: How To Cater For Your Big Family
All busy moms will know that one of the biggest challenges of life is making sure that mealtimes with your kids are as free of drama as possible. Of course, this is no easy task - if you have a big family then there might be a few squabbles here and there, and it can be hard to focus on making your youngest kid eat their greens when your middle child surreptitiously tips their potatoes into a pot plant so they don’t have to eat them. Here are some tips on how you can make sure your kids eat well...
Introduce New Foods To Your Kids
First of all, you need to make sure that your kids try out new foods as often as possible. It can be tempting to just give them food that you’re certain they’ll eat, but let’s face it - chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs simply won’t sustain your kids forever, and you’ll probably get pretty sick of them after a while as well. One of the best ways to make sure that your kids grow up willing to try lots of different foods and experiment a little is to make sure that you give them as many different tastes and textures as possible. Add a little chili - not too much! - to help them learn to deal with different spices, and if you can, take them to different restaurants so that they can explore cuisines from different countries. Making sure that your kids are willing to try different foods is part of your responsibility as a parent.
Keep Your Pantry Well Stocked
Let’s face it, we’ve all had those evenings where we look in the fridge and simply don’t know what to make with the half a head of lettuce and the bag of frozen mince in the freezer. It’s important to make sure that your pantry is well-stocked because that means you can throw different ingredients together to make a delicious dinner even if you haven’t been able to go grocery shopping recently. Make sure that you do your research on the different things that you keep in your pantry - for instance, how to use the incredible cream of tartar and what to substitute it with if it’s something that you use regularly and sometimes run out of. Making substitutions in recipes is an important thing to be able to do when you’re so busy running your life that you might not get to the store as often as you’d like! For instance, lemon juice or vinegar can be substituted for cream of tartar as an acid in baking, and if you’ve run out of a certain herb then it’s always a good idea to look through your spice rack to find something just as tasty which will give your meal a different vibe.
Look Out For Deals
When you do manage to get out to the store it’s a good idea to make sure that you look out for deals, particularly if you have a big family and have realised that your food bill is pretty hefty every week. Make sure that you buy in bulk if you have plenty of space to store the food - you can do this with products like dry pasta, rice and flour, and also with cleaning products and cans of food like tomatoes and other vegetables. Although deals are a great idea, it’s important to make sure that you don’t get so tempted that you buy food that you don’t particularly want and probably won’t end up eating - remember that the store wants to make money off you and you need to outsmart them by only buying what you need!
Cook From Fresh
Cooking your food from fresh is a great way to guarantee that your family will be healthier after making sure that they don’t consume as many preservatives or empty calories. A lot of pre-packaged and pre-prepared food contains too much salt and sugar, which can up your blood pressure and ruin your kids’ teeth. Make sure that you buy fresh fruit and vegetables so that they become the norm in your kids’ lives - and you should also ensure that you buy ethical meat. Even if it’s a little more expensive, knowing that the animals lived good lives before they made it to your dinner plate is a good feeling.
Make Sure You Meal Plan
It’s a good idea to start meal planning. If you have a large family then you’ll already know that organisation is key to success - you probably have a huge calendar up which shows exactly where everyone is supposed to be on which day. It’s a good idea to tie food into this organisation to ensure that on the days that you’re all eating together, you have a good nutritious meal - and you manage to make food that can be heated up at a different time if, for example, your teenager is getting home late from a sports practice. Knowing what’s going to be happening on which day is really all you need to stay organised when it comes to food and making dinner.
Get Ideas From Your Family
A lot of the time, you might feel as though you’re repeating recipes over and over again - Monday is meatloaf, Tuesday is tuna pasta bake - and so on. When you’re a busy mom it can be difficult to find the time to look for new recipes and to find new cooking ideas, so you could definitely get your family to contribute to that. Even if your teenage daughter emails you a cordon bleu recipe that would probably take you the whole day to cook, you can still take some ideas from it and incorporate it into your normal everyday cooking. Inviting your family to give you some ideas for new meals they’d like to try takes the pressure off you a little. You can also invite your kids to start to help you cook. A lot of the time they might not be particularly enthusiastic about anything except slathering brightly coloured frosting onto cupcakes, but it’s important for them to understand that nutrition is key to your health and also how much work goes into preparing the food on their dinner table every evening.
Share The Cooking With Your Partner
Unless one of you really loves it, then you need to make sure that cooking is a chore which is shared equally between you and your partner. If you prefer to do the cooking while he cleans up afterwards or vice versa, that’s absolutely fine - but you need to ensure that you do an equal amount of chores at home or you’ll start to resent each other. Cooking every day can feel like a huge pain no matter what circumstances you’re doing it under - the most famous chefs in the world probably feel some frustration when they’re trying to cater for their three under-ten kids every day - and if you feel like it’s a losing battle that only you are fighting, it’ll be ten times worse. Getting your partner involved in meal times is the best way to make sure that you don’t feel as though you’re in it by yourself.
Make Extra Food
Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to make extra food. You never know what might happen in the evening - your son might end up bringing some friends over and eating you out of house and home, which means that leftover spaghetti will be very much appreciated. Even if it’s only going to be your family around, making extra and storing it in the freezer is always a good idea - being able to defrost an extra lasagna or spaghetti sauce is something that could really help you in the future when you don’t have tons of time. You could also save leftovers for the next day - for instance, a cold pasta salad is something that your kids might love for lunch the next day, or maybe roast chicken sandwiches after eating chicken for dinner the previous night.
Consider Your Kids As Individuals
As much as you might want to ensure that your kids don’t turn into fussy eaters, you need to bear in mind that not everyone will like every food under the sun - and if your kid turns up his or her nose at the idea of eating spinach, it isn’t a good idea to force them to do so because that will make them develop an unhealthy relationship with food and with eating. Remember that all your kids will have their food preferences, so it’s okay to be kind and to make some changes between their different plates. You don’t have to be totally rigid about what your kids eat - flexibility is important as a parent and you need to make sure that you pick your battles. Sitting at the dinner table with your five year old as they have a tantrum about the horrors of eating broccoli simply isn’t a productive way to spend your time in the evenings.