I’m not a stick-to-a-schedule type of person, but my mornings have been a lot less stressful since I’ve worked a few good habits into my normal schedule. Here are a handful of kitchen routines I’ve learned to get my brood (and myself) out the door on time. While I don’t always follow my own advice, when I do I have a palm-to-forehead, “Duh! Why don’t I do that more often?” moment.
Try one or all of these ideas to keep the crazy out of your kitchen and make your mornings run a little smoother.
Plan in Advance
You hear this one a lot, and that’s because it works! When I take a moment to jot down my weekly meal ideas ahead of time (including breakfast and lunch) I’m much more prepared for my grocery shop. I don’t end up with, say, a bunch of ingredients for dinners but nothing for quick lunches. I also don’t have to stand in front of my open fridge every morning wondering, “What am I going to eat today?”
Post the plan on the fridge along with any recipes you’ll be using, so anyone in the family can see what you have in mind and help out. There are lots of recipes and tips for managing mealtime on our kid-friendly pages.
Cook Double-Duty Dishes
Once you get that meal planning thing down, connect the dots and transform dinner leftovers into a fresh lunch. Turn meatloaf into sandwiches, grilled chicken to a salad, roasted veggies into tacos. Get more ideas and recipes for dinner one day, lunch the next in this blog post.
Be PreppyPrepare raw veggies, portion out crackers, and divide yogurt, applesauce or hummus into reusable containers for a week’s worth of snacks and lunches. While you’re at it, portion out fruit and veg for your morning smoothies.
Make a Big Batch
Prepare enough staple ingredients – lentils, grains or veggies – for the week. They’re your go-to ingredients for any number of breakfast and lunch combinations, from bowls to wraps to salads and more!
Stick With What You Know
If oatmeal is your thing, enjoy it daily and just get creative with the toppings. Or assign a specific lunch menu item for each day of the week – that way whoever is putting together lunch knows it’s turkey sandwich Tuesday or veggie wrap Wednesday. Need some munch-spiration? Pack one of these lunches.
Set Up a Breakfast StationKeep cereals, bread and nut butters, or yogurt parfait fixings at kid level and help them be in charge of their own breakfast. (More time for you to run around looking for your keys.) Need some healthy breakfast ideas? We got them!
Make It the Night Before
Packing lunch the night before is a huge timesaver and it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Do little things like set aside some extra veggies for lunch when you’re throwing together a dinner salad, or make a sandwich while the soup is simmering.
Baking is GoodOver the weekend, when your days are a tad more relaxed, bake up a couple batches of muffins, scones or quick breads then freeze them. They’ll be ready to grab and heat on a hectic weekday morning. Here’s a breadbasket full of recipes.
Clean the Slate
Taking just 10 minutes in the evening to clean up – put dishes in the dishwasher, wipe down the counters and sink, and give the floor a quick sweep – makes such a difference in my attitude when I walk into the kitchen in the morning.
These are just some of the kitchen-sanity tools in my proverbial apron. I use some more than others, and the ones that really stick take a little effort before they become habit.
What good kitchen habits do you follow to help you and your family seize the day?