Ask any working parent what they struggle with, and most will mention meal planning. When kids have sports, theater, dance, and other activities after school, it can be challenging to figure out how to feed everyone a healthy, prepared meal. When my daughter first started playing softball after school, I couldn’t figure out how we could eat without grabbing fast food every day. If you are looking for meals plannings tips for those busy afternoons, here’s what works best for me:
Family Meal Planning Tips for Those Days When Your Kids Have Busy Afternoon Schedules
Planning is key. It’s essential that you plan out your week in advance, and decide which meals that you’ll have each day. Look at your schedule, and know how much time you’ll have each day to prepare food and eat meals.
Use the Weekends
I find that it’s best to use the weekends to shop, meal plan, and even prep some meals. For instance, we’ll cook meats to use in pastas and on salads (see this recipe for sausage pasta bake). That way, meal prep takes less time.
Love Your Slow Cooker / Instant Pot
When our schedules get crazy, I pull out my slow cooker and Instant Pot. These two tools make it easy to cook healthy meals. If I don’t have a lot of prep time before the kids head out, I’ll put food in the slow cooker in the mornings, while the Instant Pot is best when I do have some prep time right before eating.
I’m used to dinner at 6pm, but when the kids’ schedules take over, we change mealtime. Often, we’ll eat at 4pm or even 7:30pm on any given day. Those early/late mealtimes mean that we need to keep a good supply of healthy snacks on hand and in my purse.
You may not love leftovers, but they are a great way to enjoy good healthy food quickly. Make extra food when you do have time, and freeze or refrigerate it.
What are you top meal planning tips with busy afterschool schedules?