Remember when you were child-free, and you thought that sometimes you were tired? And then you had kids and realised what tired really was?
The trouble with being a tired mum is that the kids seem to be oblivious of how you’re feeling, and still demand to be fed dinner every single evening.
So what’s a snoozy mama to do when dinner needs to be on the table and they’re just not in the mood to cook?
That’s exactly what we asked our Healthy Mummy members on our Private Facebook Support Group last week. And WOW, did we get some great tips! 23 in fact!
23 cooking hacks to get dinner sorted when you are tired
Pre-cooking and freezing elements of the meal
Have you tried using single serves of pre-cooked brown rice from the freezer to bulk out a meal? That way you don’t have to spend half an hour cooking rice to go with dinner.
Or just keep it in the freezer so it’s on hand for recipes like these Tuna and Avocado Sushi Rolls.
Nikola Green says, “I freeze portions of brown rice, quinoa and steamed chicken as they are all easy to add to any meal to bulk it out and make it quicker. I then take out the morning before I need it, to defrost. I also keep veggies chopped up ready to go.” Check out Nikola’s amazing meal prep photo below.
Natalie Cole says, “I have to meal prep family meals for this exact reason. I have 3 girls 3 and under. The youngest being just 6 weeks. A shift working hubby means I’m on my feet ALL THE TIME!
“I freeze family meals so I just have to make the pasta or steam some veg. This helps as it means I am not choosing take away. And let’s face it. That’s a real easy option.”
Prepping ingredients in advance
Other mums like to pre-chop some veggies that can just be chucked into the microwave to steam. They also recommends spending some time having a big cook-up so that you have ready-made meals in the fridge or freezer for those busy nights.
Try making a double batch of this freezer friendly Veggie Packed Yellow Chicken Curry. Freeze in single or family size portions to defrost and enjoy.
Michelle Gough says, “Prepping is the key! I have recently started chopping up veggies for meals in advance, and also slicing meat into whatever shape it needs to be before freezing it.
“I also marinate meat then freeze it if it is a meal that is cooked in a sauce. Saves so much time at dinner time!”
We agree – it’s much more inspiring to find pre-made burger patties in the freezer rather than just 500g of mince.
Thea Gibb says, “I chop up all my meat before freezing, and freeze it in 2 people portions. It quickly defrosts, and I don’t have to cut up raw meat for every meal.” We think that’s great, just do one big session of chopping and clearing up rather than a mess every night!
Erin David says, “When I buy my fruit and veg I always check what I’m cooking that week and cut up and bag everything I need and put it in the freezer ready to go. So when I’m cooking dinner it’s prepped and ready to go.”
Try one of these FIVE delicious stir fries.
Katrina Tregoning is all over the pre-prepping too. “My freezer is full of pre-chopped veggies, they’re perfect to simply boil or add to curries or stir fries.”
Use the slow cooker
Other mums love the idea of ‘dump bags for the slow cooker or oven.’ Not sure what that is? Basically, it means getting everything that you need for a slow-cooked meal or one-tray oven meal and popping it all in a giant ziplock bag in the fridge.
Then when you are ready to cook you can just throw it all in the cooker and go. This obviously only works with meals that don’t need any browning of meats or cooking of onions first. Try it with this delicious Slow Cooked Ragu Sauce to go on top of pasta.
Allexe Dombroski says, “I slow cook the majority of my meals so it’s done when I have the energy in the morning – by the afternoon I go down hill quick but dinner is done. The best part is you know it will always be amazing and healthy.”
Try this too-easy dump and run Slow Cooked Asian Chicken.
Use quick cooking grains
Danielle McKenna said that “quick cook rice or cous cous are my easy go to grains. Both take less than 5 minutes to prepare, then I add a variety of frozen veggies and an egg! Voila – fried rice.”
Try this recipe for Satay Fried Rice With Egg.
Danielle McKenna says, “I always make two extra serves of my main meals – one for the freezer and one for lunch the next day. That way when I’m tired I can just put a freezer meal in the microwave.”
Try making a double batch of this Minestrone Soup. Your future self will thank you for it!
Simple go-to recipes
Clare Poole has “a few simple Healthy Mummy recipes that are my go-to for night’s like that. The garlic and sage steak with summer veg is one (from the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge). Some quick and easy Chicken Noodles are another.” Try these Honey Soy Chicken Veggie Noodle Bowls.
Danielle McKenna suggests, “An easy pizza is a wrap, topped with tomato paste, ham and cheese. Bake in the oven until golden.” You can even get everyone to add their own topping!
Steph Needham is on board with this idea too. “We have a quick meal such as enchiladas or quesadillas. I have chopped onion frozen and always keep a jar of salsa in the pantry.”
Steph also adds, “I would be lost without my freezer stash! I work full time so meals are also prepped for my work lunches too.”
Try these Mexican Chicken Quesadillas.
Simple meals in the freezer
Clare Poole says, “I also like to have a few serves of soups for when I really can’t be bothered. The Mexican Shredded Beef Tortillas (from the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge) freeze really well and once re heated is super quick to throw together.”
Click HERE to read how Healthy Mummy Leah made 60 serves of soup for just $45.
A big cook up
Amy Fahey says, “We cook and freeze our meals once every two or three months (or prep for the slow cooker). It’s obviously not something that works for everyone but I recommend having a few ready to go meals in the freezer all the time for when you have had a long day.
“It’s so handy, it saves on electricity, dishes and we get to spend more time together as a family.”
Erin David agrees – “Always have meals cooked ready to reheat. My freezer is stocked up and I just cook another one or two meals every week or two, so there’s always variety.”
Try some of our favourite freezer friendly meals here.
Natalie Grant said it with this photo above – she is all about freezer meals and meal prep! “I freeze mains for 2 adults in one container and 2 main serves for kids in another container.
“I tend to do all my cooking in one day and I have a huge planner stuck to the board so we know what we need to pull out for dinner.”
Pretty impressive Natalie! She said some of her favourite freezer meals are lasagne, any pasta (kids love it), brown rice frozen to use for fried rice, risotto, pizza dough, curried vegetables, pancakes, sausages in mushroom sauce, curry chicken, meatloaf, rissoles, soup
Try it and you’ll see why this 2 Ingredient Pizza Dough is one of our most popular recipes.
Katrina Tregoning says to “cook with music, it wakes you up when you’re tired.” Great idea Katrina, a bit of a disco while you cook something quick and easy is spot on.
Buy on sale and freeze
Jeannie Prest says, “I bulk buy my meats. Then I slice/dice/marinate and bag them up according to what I’ve planned to make. I also make extra serves to go in the freezer, which is handy when hubby isn’t home for tea.”
Katrina Tregoning agrees. “It’s much cheaper. This (pictured above) all cost me $45. Much cheaper to buy on special and pre chop and freeze.”
Sam Barker says, “If you have a partner, get them to help. Cooking isn’t just mums job!”
We agree – why not see if your partner or other support person could even just commit to looking after one meal per week when you know you will be tired. That would be a great help. Perhaps send them this link for 6 Delicious Husband Friendly Meals including this fantastic Healthy Nachos.
You can also use the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge Budget/Timesaver Meal Plan customisation option via the Challenge App, to access a week’s food plan that’s both budget-friendly AND easy to prepare (great option for busy, working mums).
Click here to learn more about 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge.