Becoming a parent is one of the greatest privileges in life. Although it forces you to work very hard to raise that child to adulthood, the reward of having a mini-version of you and your partner running around is worth the price. You fall in love so quickly with this little human and immediately start thinking about everything that could go wrong with their upbringing.
Many parents face one question in particular; How are we going to keep this kid well-fed? The larger your family grows, the harder it becomes to manage meals for everyone. This becomes even more complicated if you are dealing with picky eaters or dietary restrictions.
There are enough things to worry about as a parent that you do not need one more. Learning to manage meals for a growing family is possible if you can adopt the following tips and experiment to see if they work for everyone.
Meal planning is a practice where you prepare multiple meals for the next few days ahead of time and then store them either in the fridge or freezer. Then you simply grab the container, warm up the food whenever you want it, and dig in. This cuts down on the amount of time spent each day preparing food. Instead, you do all the preparation at once, such as on the weekend, and then have meals ready for multiple days. This option is popular with busy professionals who want healthy lunches at work, but it can also make life easier for large families that have a lot of mouths to feed.
If your family cooks at all, then you probably have some favorite recipes. The more members of your family there are, the more “favorite meals” will exist in the household. Creating your own recipe book is a great way to combine all those favorites into one place that can be reliable when deciding what to make for the week. There are many forms that a family recipe book can take, including handwritten, printed, scrapbook style, cookbook app, blog, or recipe box. This resource will be valuable for keeping track of everyone’s favorites so you can plan ahead. Plus, it can be a fun family activity to choose recipes to add to the collection.
Much of the struggle to manage meals for a large family is the shortage of time. Sometimes, you simply do not have time to get a meal ready for everyone, between shopping for ingredients, combining them, and preparing them for consumption. You may just need a good meal alternative every once in a while when you have no time to make something a little more intense. One popular option is to use meal replacement shakes. These shakes contain protein and fiber in high quantities so that your family members will feel fuller, but they also provide plenty of other nutrients that the body needs.
We often underestimate the ability of children to take on responsibilities. Sure, if you ask them to chop up some carrots (albeit with supervision because of the knife being used) they will probably not do that good of a job. However, the relational benefits of inviting your kids to assist with cooking are numerous. Plus, they will never learn how to help make meals for the family if you do not teach them eventually. Maybe you can choose a relatively simple meal to start having the kids help with food preparation. Start with small tasks like rinsing off produce, stirring the pot, or measuring ingredients. Get the whole family to play a role in cooking to lighten the load on yourself and help them learn valuable life skills.
When you have a large family, your grocery bill can climb up very quickly. The older your kids get, the more food they will eat. Your top priority may be to save as much money as possible when shopping for food and drink. Buying in bulk may be your only option to save some money on each grocery trip. It might make sense to join a wholesale club like Costco or BJ’s to take advantage of larger quantities at lower prices.
It is easy to get lost in the chaos of raising and feeding a family. Often, it results in parents neglecting their own health since they spend so much time worrying about their children’s wellness. Remember to prioritize your own health as you learn to manage meals for a growing family. If you are simply too exhausted to cook, don’t shy away from ordering takeout. We all need a break every once in a while, and though home cooking is generally healthier and more cost-effective, take-out nights can be a fun rest for you and the kids.