Are you always panicked and scrambling at 5pm? These easy dinner tips for working moms will help you get your family fed in no time, without the stress.
Ask any working mom her four LEAST favorite words to hear when she gets off work. The answer? “Mom, what’s for dinner?”
Yes, I know dinner time comes at the same time every day, but there are so many moving parts required to make it happen.
But one day, I got it right. No one had to ask me. I walked right in the house, got started, and less than 30 minutes later, we were having dinner.
One Monday, it was cold, so I decided that I wanted to have chili beans and cornbread for dinner. Not to mention, I didn’t make this decision until I was driving home from work.
Everything worked out fine. This is why:
I already had cooked ground beef on hand.
Dinner was on the table in 15 minutes. I prepared the corn muffins first (actually my daughter did these while I measured out the seasonings) and put them in the oven.
By the time I added the ground beef, beans, tomatoes, and seasonings to the pot, brought them to a boil, and then turned the heat down, the corn muffins were ready.
I felt like a true super hero!
That’s because on most days, I have no idea what to say when my family asks “what’s for dinner?” But, that night, dinner came together remarkably easily! So, that got me thinking…why did it feel so easy today?
The answer…I had prepped part of the meal ingredients, had everything else I needed on hand, and was making something that took less than 20 minutes to prepare.
How can I accomplish this every day?
My Best Dinner Tips for Working Moms
These were the keys to successfully getting dinner on the table, without any stress, in 20 minutes:
- Have meal ingredients prepped
- Have what you need on hand
- Have a list of recipes that can be ready in 20-30 minutes
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Dinner Tip for Working Moms #1: Have meal ingredients prepped
Which ingredients to prep
- ground beef
- chicken breasts
- freezer meals
- rotisserie chicken
How to prep ingredients
- When I bring my groceries home, I usually have a 3 lb or 5 lb package (or larger) of ground beef. This is how I prepare it. I explain exactly How to Cook Ground Beef in this post. You can do the same thing with chicken breasts and many other meats.
- Wash and chop fruits and veggies when you bring them home from the grocery store.
- Prep sauces you make a lot in batches like spaghetti sauce, sloppy joe sauce, alfredo sauce, etc.
- Buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. For about the same price as a fresh roasting chicken, you can have the store season and cook it for you to take home hot.
Dinner Tip for Working Moms #2: Have what I need on hand
When you have everything that you need at your fingertips, your meal with come together SO easily!
- Refer to this list of multi-purpose pantry staples to always have on hand.
- Make a list of ingredients to always have on hand for your favorite recipes.
- Keep track of and replenish items using my grocery list.
Dinner Tip for Working Moms #3: Have a list of recipes that are ready in 20-30 minutes
I was making something I knew how to make without a recipe and cooked quickly.
- Make a list of favorite recipes.
- Narrow down to ones that are ready within 20-30 minutes.
- If you’re not sure, consult resources like 30 Minute Meals and Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller.
- Consider dump recipes (as in dump the ingredients and go), like chilis, soups, and stews, or recipes that you can make in the crockpot.
Dinner Tip for Working Moms #4: Have a meal plan
How to make a meal plan:
- Write down what you would like to serve / need to cover each meal. Check the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards for what you already have. Make a list of what’s left to buy. Write it on your grocery list.
- If you’re really short on time, you could create a menu plan in 10 minutes by letting your kids create the menu. I usually hear chicken, spaghetti, and sloppy joes. With a little prodding, I can usually get 10 ideas out of them. If I add a few easy favorites, I can easily come up with 25-30 ideas, leaving us room for a few sandwich nights or eating out.
- Or, you can let your husband create the menu. I think of 5-10 of his favorites and add some kid-friendly picks, I have a month’s worth of meals. If neither cooperate, you can always create one monthly menu (like the school lunch menu) and rotate it on a 30 day schedule.
- I really enjoyed the book How to Meal Plan: A Step by Step Guide for Busy Moms. There are only 5 steps to planning my family’s meals. The book showed me how I can use my crockpot to make the meals I already prepare easier. The author pointed out my “deal breakers” – I’ve had these in mind but never realized I was doing this.