If your house is anything like mine, life can get pretty crazy.
If you’re anything like me, keeping ‘on top of it all’ is an ongoing project and mid week dinners in particular are quite a source of stress and worry.
In an ideal world, I would have loads of time every day to flick through my cook books and favourite foodie magazines for inspiration for that night’s dinner.
I’d then venture out with my lovely wicker shopping basket and I’d source everything fresh and straight from the grower.
Allow me to hold my belly as I LOL! Because no matter how much I’m winning on any given week, my life will never resemble that!
Life in our house could be crazy, out of control and a constant blur of kids, school bags, soccer gear, homework, netball shoes and dresses, school notes and takeaway every night.
And to be honest if I ever take my eye off the ball or let down my guard for even a day or two, this is where we end up. In a great big hole of disorganisation and stress with dinners that are thrown together (or grabbed via drive through) and not all that healthy.
Having been a mum now for over 14 years, I’ve had a bit of time to figure out how to keep my tally of ‘little wins’ up there.
‘Little wins’ being where I manage to keep the household running smoothly; we don’t forget homework, everyone makes their outside-school activities and we’re all still talking to each other.
More important than these though is that I feel as though the whole family has had a nourishing meal every weeknight.
For me, it comes down to never losing sight of these 5 tips:
- HAVE A PLAN (A MENU PLAN THAT IS)
Every Saturday when we get home from netball, I sit down with a coffee and plan out our menu for the following week. I get the kids involved and they all vote for the meals they would like included. I also include any nights I know we’ll be out for dinner or will have a treat night in the form of takeaway. Our plan must always include a minimum of 5 home-cooked dinners that allows me to feel as though I’m doing the right thing! Winning!
From our menu plan, I create the shopping list. Don’t forget to check what you already have in the freezer and the pantry to ensure no double ups. Then shop the list … and only the list. Stick to it like glue and you’ll be on track and on budget.
- GET THE WHOLE FAMILY ONTO ONE MEAL ASAP
The little people, the fussy eaters or the what I call ‘nutritionally hyper-aware’ members within the family can often derail any attempt to serve up just one meal. You end up preparing 2 or 3 separate meals and you’re a wreck (not to mention the kitchen and your budget).
As much as possible create meals that can be dialed up or down. So if I’m cooking a curry, I’ll make a mild version for the youngest members of the family (and blitz this for the babies) and then add a spicy side or sprinkle to hot it up for the older kids and adults. If you have vegetarians, I make the foundation of the meal vegetarian and add a good quality protein separately for the meat eaters.
- LEARN TO BE OK WITH (SOME) FROZEN FOODS
I used to think that everything had to be ‘from scratch’. If I didn’t chop it, slice it or dice it from fresh, it probably wasn’t good enough for my family.
Turns out I was ill-informed. There are so many options in the freezer section of the supermarket that provide us with quality, nutrient rich options for our families. And in some instances are more packed with goodness than supposedly fresh ingredients that could have been sitting around for days, weeks or months.
A favourite mid week option for my family is fish. I used to only buy fresh fish but this cost a fortune, put pressure on me to use it the same day I’d purchased it and I often wondered whether it was sustainable and humanely caught and prepared.
So I began to look at the frozen fish options. Over the years, I’ve checked out a lot of brands. Several brands I’ve never bought twice because surely something that is the exact shape of a triangle is not a fresh fish fillet? And if the flesh is a grey moosh rather than lovely fresh white flesh, it must have been through a raft of processes along the way.
The one brand we’ve fallen in love with is SEALORD.
To be honest, we’ve only discovered this brand recently but it’s now a weekly feature.
Sealord have got feeding your family nailed with their ‘Everyday Range’ that includes more pieces per pack and are just the right size.
The good folks at SEALORD really do know (and care) about their fish and this makes a huge difference to the fish we get to serve up at dinner:
- Sealord use REAL fish and only real fish – so the fish you serve is just like fish you have made yourself
- Sealord uses HOKI fish fillets – a mild, thick filleted fish that is MSC certified – (this means it is globally recognized and certified as sustainable seafood)
What’s even more important to me is that it’s quick, convenient and wins on taste every time I serve it up.
Here’s two really easy mid week dinners I’ve been cooking for the past few weeks.
The Mini Fish Tacos are perfect for dinner on the run (or in the car). Full recipe here.
The Slow Cooker Vege Curry means all I have to do when I get in the door is throw the fish in the oven to cook and then serve with a scoop of the curry. Full recipe here.
- EMBRACE YOUR SLOW COOKER
Whether it’s Summer or Winter, make your slow cooker your friend. There is nothing better than knowing that while you’re racing around dinner is happily cooking away and will be ready to serve up when you walk in the door.
You can virtually cook anything in a slow cooker – from a whole chicken, a pork shoulder, corned beef or do what I do in the Vege Curry Recipe above and cook up a yummy vegetable curry and then add a Sealord Hoki fillet on top for great crunch, beautiful flavour and a serve of good quality protein.
- GET EVERYONE HELPING OUT
This is probably one of the most important points to get right! Getting everyone into the kitchen helping out makes dinner preparation quick and easy. You’re also equipping your kids with some great skills and you get to talk to them about their day.
Our ‘dinner prep’ chat starts when we’re in the car on the way home. I talk through what we’re having and who’s going to do what. Who will peel the carrots and who’s responsible for setting the table that night.
If one of the older kids is already at home, I’ll call ahead and get them to put the rice into the rice cooker or ask them to peel the potatoes.
The other side benefit I’ve discovered to having the kids help out is that they are more willing to try something new or eat a good dinner if they’ve been involved.
So it is possible to survive those busy weeknight dinners with your sanity and your tastebuds intact! The wheels may fall off sometimes but if you can get it right 90% of the time, you’re winning!
In case you didn’t realise … the team at Sealord asked us to write a post to tell you all about their Hoki fish fillets. We agreed to do this and I tried out their fish fillets with my family of 3 (teen and primary) children a little while back. They loved them, I loved them and I have continued to include these in my supermarket trolley.
Want to find out more about Sealord Frozen Fish?
What are your tips for midweek dinners? Do you have a menu plan? Have you ever tried Sealord Hoki fish fillets?
Jump on below and comment! Share any tips you have for surviving midweek dinner madness!