5 Tips For Meal Planning For Kids To Save Nap Time For Yourself

When I was still in the early motherhood cocoon, I was more than happy to spend nap times and after hours on preparing good foods and savoring the process of feeding my child.  Now, as much as I love watching him eat, I've grown more selfish with the time I can steal for myself during the day.  Everything is always a work in progress but on a good week this is how we've gotten efficient in making meal time more relaxed and giving me back some time in the day.

1.  Get Into A Food Shopping or Delivery Routine

We swear by Instacart but are dabbling with Fresh Direct for grocery delivery. Whether you outsource shopping or if you are one of those incredible women who can manage going to the store with children, I find having a predictable day to restock your fridge sets you up for a simpler week.  My husband puts in our food order Saturday morning while we have breakfast and we typically plan for an early Sunday morning delivery. 

2. Make Ahead In Food Groups

Nothing gives me more relief at 445pm on a Wednesday than opening the fridge and seeing tupperware with prepared protein, a couple batches of roasted or steamed veggies and options of grains.  I can't always say this happens - sometimes I migrate from the dissapointing state of our fridge down to the frozen food section - see #5.  But on Sundays and Mondays, we try to make a batch of steak, short ribs or chicken, pack tupperware boxes with steamed carrots, roasted cauliflower, eggplant or squash and cook a vat of a couple pasta or couscous dishes.  

3. Cook to Your Strengths

My husband loves a slow cooker meal on Sundays so I happily delegate to him making meat for the week.  Our babysitter comes on Mondays and Tuesdays and she's simultaneously studying to be a nutritionist so I always try and impress her with an assortment of veggies, which she's happy to roast or steam while Bodie naps.  I've never met a carb I didn't like so I'm in charge of grains. I'll try and make a pasta or couscous salad for dinner on Monday in a big batch so that leftovers make for an easy side later on.  This one and this one are a favorite.

4. Offer The Grown Up Goods

It is important to both, Dan and I, that Bodie enjoy food and eating out as much as we do so we've offered him everything we eat and in turn, he's open to trying most things (for now).  This saves us from planning too far ahead for the weekends because generally, whether we're eating out or entertaining, he'll have what we're having.  The most grown-up things he loves right now are olives and everything bagel topping (he'll eat anything if we sprinkle this on top).  

5.  Be Lenient On Yourself

When I started Bodie on solids at around five months, I would read baby recipe books (this one) or blogs (this one) for fun during nap time.  After I slowly started to want to reclaim more time for myself, I became happier with pouches (these) once in a while.  As he's grown into proper kid meals and as I've gotten more comfortable in my version of motherhood, I've grown equally fine with the frozen organic food section.  Bodie and I love any of Dr. Praegers kid friendly foods in a pinch.  Other weeknight easy staples are Cascadian Farm organic sweet potatoes, Trader Joe's turkey meatballs, Amy's organic spinach & tomato pizza and butternut squash ravioli from Eataly.

How do you handle meals for your kids? The best ideas come from other moms so add yours below! xo