Returning to Work and Meal Planning

Returning to Work and Meal Planning

Are you returning to work after having a baby and looking for ways to make it easier to get a meal on the table at the end of the day? Putting some strategies in place can help your family get food on the table on busy weeknights.

Plan ahead

  • Check what food you have in the pantry, fridge and freezer and base meals off these ingredients.
  • Sit down and plan meals for the week. Having a list of your family’s favourite meals can help. Choose quick and easy meals for the days you work.
  • Write out a shopping list so you don’t forget anything.
  • Order your groceries online and either pick up or get them delivered to your home. This can help you save time not having to go into the shops.
  • Keep a list of simple meal ideas for nights where things don’t go smoothly. Read more about making a meal out of something
  • Cook a meal the night before that you know will have leftovers like spaghetti bolognaise or shepherds pie. This way you can just heat and serve when you get home from work the next day. Read more about freezer filler ideas
  • Cook foods that you can re-use as leftovers the following night in a different way. For example, if you are having a roast on the weekend, cook extra vegetables and use them for a roast vegetable salad or frittata the following night.

Prepare early

  • Wash and cut up fruit and vegetables you will need a few days ahead. This makes them easy to grab and add to meals when you need them. For example, add to the steamer, stir fry, or to roast in the oven. Store cut fruit and vegetables in containers in the fridge.
  • Do a big cook up on the weekend or whenever you can or make a bigger amount when you do cook. This way you will have some meals ready to go, just heat and eat. See our freezer filler blog for more ideas.
  • Use a slow cooker – by sparing some time at the start of the day, you can reap the rewards as soon as you walk in the door.
  • Get any ingredients ready the night before. This is a good idea when planning to put the slow cooker on in the morning.
  • If young children are finding it hard to wait for the evening meal, give them meal ingredients to snack on while you finish cooking. Vegetable sticks* or grated cheese can make a quick and easy entrĂ©e.

* These are high choking risk foods for children under 3 years. Always watch children while they are eating. Read more about making foods safe by grating, chopping, mashing or cooking until soft

Be kind to yourself

Returning to work means a change in your family’s routine. It can take time to get used to this new routine and that is okay. Try not to be too hard on yourself if things don’t always go to plan at mealtimes. As time goes on things will get easier as your family adjusts to the change.

Taking a night off can be a nice break every now and again. If you can, grab takeaway on your way home and sit down as a family to eat together.

Get the family involved

Everyone’s family situation is different. Having a shared approach to household tasks can help reduce the workload. For example, your partner might be able to cook some meals, or do the shopping. Or depending on your child’s age, they may like to help. Read more about learning through food and cooking and age appropriate tasks for your child.

Accept any help that’s offered

If you have family, friends or neighbours offer to help with a meal here and there when you’re returning to work, accept it. There aren’t any prizes for doing it all.