6 Meal time-savers for moms

Oct 16, 2012 at 3:00 a.m. ET

Between shuttling the kids to school, rushing to work, managing the house and helping with homework, most moms will readily attest to the fact that mealtime can be one of the most challenging parts of their day.

Making mealtime a breeze

What mom has the time, energy or desire after a long day to pull off a gourmet meal on a nightly basis? Here are six simple tips moms can implement to make the most of their time in the kitchen and keep the stress of meal time down to a simmer.

Cook once, eat twice or thrice

According to healthy lifestyle writer and food coach Beth Aldrich, CHC, AADP, moms can create more than one meal from their dedicated kitchen labors! If you cook extra rice for your evening meal, you can use it as a base for a rice cereal in the morning. All you have to do is reheat it, add some butter, cinnamon and raisins and then you have a hearty breakfast all set. Use some of the rice as a staple in an olive-oil based tossed rice and veggie salad for dinner the following evening.

Clean as you go

Clever time-saving cooking tips go hand-in-hand with a tidy cooking space. Rather than spend valuable time cleaning all evening after dinner, Aldrich suggests keeping a warm cloth nearby to wipe up spills and messes, as opposed to having to scrub dried-on cooking stains later on. You can also cut down on last minute cleaning by soaking dishes and utensils after use.

Put your appliances to work

When chopping, prepping and steaming, rely on time-saving appliances such as a food processor, slow cooker, rice cooker and crock pot, says Aldrich. These appliances do all of the work, while you can indulge in more important things in the evenings — your family!

Get creative

According to Kuae Kelch Mattox, national board member for Mocha Moms, Inc., moms can take the time-consuming guess work out of meal planning by creating theme dinners such as Meatless Monday, Wacky Wednesday or Fishy Friday. This also makes dining more fun for the kids and gives them something to look forward to each weekday.

Pre-cut and freeze

Cut down on prep time by pre-cutting, freezing and storing fresh fruits and vegetables, says Mattox. By having food prepared in advance, you'll not only cut down on the time it takes to prepare meals but this method will also keep your food fresher, longer.

When in doubt, make soup

You should always keep a stash of dried beans, bouillon cubes or canned stock on hand in the pantry, says Mattox. When in a crunch for time, simply toss in frozen pre-cut vegetables, extra rice or pasta and enjoy the ultimate comfort food for a quick and easy meal!

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