Let’s be honest. Most parents would love to prepare a home-cooked meal for their family every night, but life gets in the way — and that’s OK. Whether you’re short on time, want to eat healthier food, are dealing with picky eaters or just aren’t into cooking, we have cooking hacks for you.
These hacks include ideas for fast and easy-to-prepare meals, how to make cooking fun, time-saving cooking tips and more.
Jump to Sections:
- The Challenges of Family Dinners
- How to Make Mealtime Easier
- Cooking Hacks for Parents
- Benefits of Using Fully-Cooked Ingredients
- Find a Retailer Near You
The Challenges of Family Dinners
If you run into roadblocks when preparing a meal for your family, you can overcome them. Here are some possible challenges you may be facing during mealtime:
- Time constraints: Even if you don’t have an hour or two every night to prepare dinner for your family, you don’t have to compromise on the quality of your family’s dinner. Making dinner with ready-to-eat, fully cooked ingredients can reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen. Additionally, taking a weekend afternoon to meal prep can be majorly beneficial.
- Picky eaters: We’ve all met them and maybe even were them at one point. Picky eaters can put a wrench in your plan to feed your family the same meal. While it’s easy and understandable to cave to the picky eaters in your family by preparing a separate meal for them, there are ways to feed picky eaters so they’re OK with and maybe even ecstatic about healthier food.
- Messy food: Have you ever found yourself avoiding cooking a certain food or recipe because it’s messy to eat? If you have, there are hacks to make messy food less messy — you might even have the tools for these hacks in your kitchen waiting for you to take advantage of them.
- Lack of cooking skills: It’s no secret that cooking doesn’t appeal to everyone. Maybe staying in the kitchen for hours at a time fills you with peace, or maybe you’ll do whatever possible to cut down the amount of time you spend in the kitchen every day. If your cooking skills have suffered because of your lack of interest in the process itself, there’s no shame in that. Fortunately, easy-to-make dinners can help you ease your doubts.
- Lack of cooking tools: If you only have a few cooking tools at your disposal, you can still make unique meals. Many of these tools can substitute for others, so don’t feel like your array of tools is limiting you from making great dishes.
How to Make Mealtime Easier
It’s not always easy to make weekday dinners — especially if you’ve just finished a long day of work — but having some kitchen rules in place will ensure each meal is easy to make. Consider implementing these four “rules” into your cooking to help hold better family dinners:
1. Keep Cooking Quick
If you’re not a fan of the time it takes to peel or cut foods, you have options. First, you want to ensure you’re using the right cutlery. A chef’s knife works wonders for cutting meat, but you shouldn’t waste time trying to slice bread with one. To dice vegetables like onions faster, you may want to grab a specialized tool — gadgets like garlic presses are incredibly helpful. Additionally, you can use tools in different ways. For example, herbs are easily and quickly cut with a pizza cutter.
2. Keep Cooking Fun
If you want your kids to be more enthusiastic about a particular food, try using fun molds to cook them in or shape them with after you’re done cooking. Try using cookie cutters to cut out shapes in the waffles you serve for breakfast. Furthermore, when your kids show an interest in cooking, indulge them with a simple task to help you make the meal, like mixing the batter.
Keep in mind that time in the kitchen doesn’t have to be stressful! Turning cooking into an activity can help you enjoy the process on days when you’re not looking forward to it. Plus, you’ll be able to teach your kids life-long cooking skills at the same time.
3. Keep Cooking Clean
The mess of cooking can be discouraging, but a few tricks can make cleaning up much more straightforward. For example, using silicone baking sheets will save you a lot of cleaning time because food slides off of them easier. When cooking in a crockpot, you may want to use crockpot liners. It also helps to clean as you go so you’re not met with a pile of dishes in the sink later on.
4. Keep Cooking Easy
If you have extra time on the weekends, preparation can transform your cooking experience. Taking 30 minutes to chop and freeze fruit for smoothies makes breakfast time much simpler. It’s also easy to prepare and freeze dishes like casseroles and lasagna to reheat throughout the week. A little organization can go a long way to make cooking something you don’t mind doing each day.
At John Soules Foods, we can make preparing food for the week as simple as possible. Use our fully-cooked, seasoned chicken and beef options to make quick and easy dinner recipes for your family. For example, chicken fajita quesadillas only take 15 minutes to prepare and cook when the chicken is already ready to go. If you’re more of a steak lover, our Cubano steak takes less than 30 minutes and packs a ton of flavor for only being around 500 calories per serving.
Cooking Hacks for Parents
When it comes time to serve dinner, you have to come up with a meal that’s both tasty and healthy — and in a perfect world, it’d be easy to make, too. Luckily, using a few cooking hacks and strategies can help you tick all three of those boxes. To create a week’s worth of yummy dishes for your crew, check out these parent tips for mealtimes below:
1. Buy Frozen and Pre-Portioned Foods
While you may prefer buying whole, fresh fruits and vegetables for most meals, you can save time and money by buying some things frozen and pre-portioned. In particular, frozen fruits and vegetables last much longer, so you won’t end up throwing away expired food. Additionally, pre-portioned food makes for easy on-the-go snacks for the kids.
For evenings when you know your family will be busy, consider grabbing frozen or prepared meals to make in a flash. These dishes are simple to toss in the microwave or oven when you get home from work — and teenagers can easily make them on their own. Having something like a prepared sandwich or salad for your kids to grab on their way to extracurriculars ensures they get a healthy bite to eat without any effort on your end.
2. Organize Your Kitchen
Often, cooking can seem less appealing if your kitchen is not organized to your liking and it takes you 10 minutes to root around in a cupboard for a mixing bowl. That’s why organizing your kitchen makes a difference. Whether your space is large or small, you can find ways to turn your kitchen into a place you actually want to be.
For example, keep similar cooking utensils in the same drawer, using dividers to separate them. If you have a lot of spices, put them all in one cupboard with the ones you use the most often in the front. Pouring dry bulk goods like rice and beans into clear, sealed containers keeps them fresh for longer and helps you see what’s stocked in your pantry better. These are just a few ideas for making your kitchen a more useable space.
3. Invest in a Slow Cooker
If you want to be done cooking before you even get home, investing in a slow cooker might be a good idea. These appliances allow you to cook ingredients and even entire recipes while you’re away from the kitchen. Simply add the required ingredients and set the timer on the slow cooker. Then, when you get home, you’ll have a full meal ready to serve and eat. Try making soups, roasts, taco meat and more in your slow cooker.
4. Know Your Family’s Preferences
This tip may seem obvious, but knowing how your family operates and what they like will make mealtimes less stressful. If your child is going through a food phase, you’ll want to think about that as you make your weekly dinners. Working to accommodate your family’s needs makes mealtime simpler in the long run.
For instance, you may have young children who tend to make a mess while they eat. In this case, you might want to turn some snacks into easy-to-eat alternatives, like popsicles. Eating a yogurt popsicle is much less messy than a cup of yogurt. Turning smoothies into popsicles is a fun idea, too.
Ultimately, knowing what to feed your children keeps everyone happy. Aside from choosing healthy ingredients, you want to ensure they actually like the food you’re making. Listen to their requests so you find a balance between pleasing picky eaters and creating healthy dishes. As a result, you and your family can have a pleasant mealtime, which makes everything worth it in the end.
Benefits of Using Fully-Cooked Ingredients
When cooking for your family, you always want to ensure the food you serve them is fresh and completely cooked.
That’s why fully-cooked ingredients are a game-changer. At John Soules Foods, we currently have dozens of refrigerated and frozen options for fully-cooked chicken and beef dinners. As a result, you can prepare endless delicious meals without having to worry about your family’s health. By taking control of what you feed your family, you can have less on your plate while making sure your family’s plates are full of high quality and nutritious food.
Here are the top benefits of using fully-cooked food for your meals:
1. Saves Time
Depending on the meals you want to serve, cooking meat can take a while. For instance, preparing shredded beef for authentic Mexican tacos may take more than an hour or two. To speed up the process, fully-cooked meats are your best option. Rather than wait for the meat to cook, you can serve dinner in minutes to satisfy your hungry crowd.
Additionally, fully-cooked meats make cooking easy for beginners. If you’re building your cooking skills or teaching your kids to make meals, using prepared options can help introduce you and others to the basics of cooking in a simple way. Plus, older children can easily prepare snacks and other meals for themselves when they’re home alone, giving you peace of mind and more time to yourself.
2. Increases Food Safety
Knowing how long to fully cook certain cuts of meat is a learning process. Depending on the type of meat, cooking times for safe meat consumption vary — and those who haven’t spent much time in the kitchen may find it tough to keep track of these times. If you don’t know how long to cook your chicken, beef, pork or fish, you may end up worrying about this rather than enjoying your dinner time.
Skip the stress by purchasing meat that’s already fully cooked. This way, there are no worries about whether your dinner will be safe to eat. As a result, you can conquer the kitchen every night.
Find a John Soules Foods Retailer to Make Every Dinner a Snap
At John Soules Foods, we’re adamant about the quality of our products. We inspect our fully-cooked, ready-to-eat meat options every hour, use 100% all natural ingredients, and put love and care into every product so you and your family can feel confident about the meal you are eating.
If you’re wondering if there’s a John Soules Foods retailer near you, use our store locator so you can pick up our products during your next grocery shopping trip.