You work, you take the kids to and from play dates and you have plenty of other things to do. Getting a meal on the table and on time can be difficult to do. How do other parents do it? How do they avoid having to grab fast food as their solution to dinner? Check out these secrets from busy mums and dads just like you.

Use a Crockpot
One simple option is to use a crockpot or a slow cooker. These inexpensive appliances make a busy day easier to manage. All you need to do is throw a few basic ingredients into the slow cooker first thing in the morning. It cooks the food throughout the day, usually over three to six hours, sometimes longer. Then you come home to a freshly cooked, healthy, homemade meal.

Do Prep Work on Shopping Days
Another tip for getting food cooked and ready to eat faster is to simply prep it on the day you bring it home. For example, you can cut most fruits and vegetables ahead of time and store them in the fridge. That way, you don’t have to do a lot of chopping as you are chasing the kids around the house. It’s a good idea to package foods that can create easy meals together, including meats, starches and vegetables.

Keep Things Simple
You don’t have to spend a lot of time on a fancy dinner for you and your family. All you need is a well-rounded, nutritious meal. This can mean meat, veggies and some carbs. 1:2:1 is a good ratio, or a vegetarian equivalent. Instead of spending hours in the kitchen, keep it simple so you have more time to do fun things with the family or some time out just for you!)

Plan ahead
Long before the week gets underway, be sure you have a menu plan in place. This also helps you to do the week’s shopping ahead of time so that everything you need is already in the pantry or freezer. That menu can include anything you hope to make for each day of the week. That way, the night before, you can take out the right types of meats or other ingredients from the freezer. The key here is to remember that if you don’t have a plan, you are more likely to reach for unhealthy and expensive convenience foods or take away.

Getting Dinner on the Table
Any of these ideas can help you to get dinner on the table. Don’t dread meals. Keep them enjoyable for everyone. That way, within 30 minutes to an hour you can have a great meal on the table that everyone will enjoy. Leaving more time to enjoy life!