While it’s tempting to aspire to making everything your family eats by hand and from scratch, busy moms know that it’s simply not possible. With limited hours and many meals, they know that taking shortcuts is the only way to get dinner on the table. There are more ways than ever to employ savvy kitchen hacks that save time without sacrificing nutrition or flavor. Here are four of our favorites:
1. Buy parboiled grains
Look for “quick cooking” organic grains in the grocery store. The long cooking time associated with whole grains like quinoa, farro, barley, steel-cut oats and brown rice are drastically reduced when grains are parboiled, dried and then packaged. This process doesn’t threaten any of the nutritional value of these tasty grains, and lets you get a healthy starch on the table even if you didn’t plan for the 40 minutes it usually takes to prepare them.
2. Let your kids eat frozen fruit and veggies
We don’t quite know why, but kids love frozen peas, carrots, blueberries and other small frozen produce items! While this isn’t suitable for younger children, once the threat of choking has passed, a bowl of frozen peas is a fun novelty that older kids will scarf in a way they rarely do the cooked version. We especially love this tactic as a predinner snack, in place of crackers or chips.
3. Stock up on packaged soups
Organic, low-sodium soups make a very good five-minute lunch or dinner, and deliver some nutrition along the way. The Tetra Pak-style of creamy tomato, butternut squash and cream of broccoli are usually hits with kids, and a few carrot sticks or a piece of cheesy toast can turn them into a square meal. Be sure to read the ingredient list carefully, and choose brands with low added sugar, and no synthetic additives and stabilizers such as gellan gum.
4. Protein in a pinch
Frozen meatballs, which are increasingly available in organic and vegetarian versions, are an easy solution for a hungry bunch. It only takes about 10 minutes to simmer them in tomato sauce, and voilà! A crowd-pleasing topping for pasta or filling for sandwiches, with a good dose of protein for growing bodies. Not all frozen meatballs are equal, so again, be sure to read the nutritional info. Ideally, you want minimal additives, and just a handful of good quality, wholesome organic ingredients.
What are your go-to kitchen hacks and shortcuts? Let us know in the comments!