Budgeting & Thrifty Parenting

My Top 5 Parenting Life Hacks – Making Family Mealtimes Easier

As a stay at home mum to 2 little ones, with a blog and with a business, I need to cut some corners and save time, and I need to be thrifty and save money. Hence, I’m joining in with I Like Offers new parenting life hacks campaign. It’s simply about sharing our top tips, on a variety of themes, that make our lives easier, and I’m all for that!

First up, it’s all about feeding and food, so making family meal times all round easier. I was pleased this was the first in the series, as it’s the area that I know I vary most at in terms of time, efficiency and money. Sometimes, I can be brilliant, and at other times, tragic! This has pulled me back into ‘brilliant mode’, so my mind is fully on these hacks…

top 5 parenting life hacks - making family mealtimes easier

1. Meal plan. It might sound like an extra task and one that takes more time, but in the long run, it’s absolutely worth it. I spend 10 minutes a week on planning the teatime meals for the coming week. By spending that 10 minutes, I can write a shopping list from it, so I stick to what I need rather than random buys. It then saves me time during the week as I don’t have to think about what we can have, it’s easy to just grab anything out ready to defrost if need be, and I can plan around activities with the kids if there’s a fair bit of preparation time. It makes me feel a bit more in control, too! Personally, I still like some freedom with this, so I have 7 meals on the list, and then I fit them to each day as the week progresses.

2. Online shop. This one saves time and money, if done right. The above task should have formed some of your shopping list for you anyway. check your cupboards so you know what else you need, but if you’re not sure as you start shopping, that’s fine, as you can just get up and go check – not so easy to do when you’re in a shop! (on this subject, do regularly do out your cupboards and freezer so you don’t miss use-by dates and have to throw things away.) You can keep an eye on the total of your bill and easily delete things off your list if you’re working to stay within a certain budget. Use MySupermarket, and it’ll show you where you can make further savings as you shop, too, which is very useful. I always check out the half price offers section, and may alter my meal plan menu if there’s a bargain to be had there. I know this is more cost-effective for me than going out to shop, and it saves a lot of time! the kids tend to be eating or playing while I do it, so  they’re more content than being in a shop, and it takes me a fraction of the time, so we can get back to the fun stuff! There is no way I’d be happy to take up a chunk of our free family time in a supermarket – seems such a waste!

3. Get children involved in choosing and cooking. My daughter loves helping me to do that meal plan list. She likes to have input into the meals for the week, and it helps me to think up what we can have, and reassures me that it’s things she’ll eat. It actually cuts down on the menu and shopping time, as she reminds me of things she wants and likes, and then when it arrives, I know she’ll eat it. I want the kids to willingly eat their dinner. It’s healthy and it saves me time and stress trying to coax them. I also hate waste, so if I’ve spent money buying food, I do like to see it eaten. Fortunately, my pair are good eaters, and I do think it helps having them involved in choosing, and then preparing/cooking the food helps. Though they are naturally quite greedy, too 😉

4. Always have snacks available. If your kids are anything like mine, they will be forever asking for food! Now the first point here I suppose goes way back to the beginning, and that’s drinks. My two only drink water at home (along with bedtime milk). They’ve been programmed to from an early age! This means it’s not only free, but quite literally on tap! I drink water all day, so I do think it helps that they see me doing the same. The 4 year-old only ever asks for squash if she sees someone else with it, perhaps on a play date, and yes, she has some then if she wants it, so she’s not deprived! But at home, I really don’t think it occurs to her to drink anything else because we never have. Then to snacks. I always have a lot of fruit in as they get through it quickly. Raisins are also eaten daily, and I always buy a big bag, not the individual packets, as this way is far more cost-effective. Cereals are great for snacks, there’ll always be a brand of multi-pack crisps on offer when you shop, and my children are excited to try different ones which helps with the cost-saving, and yoghurt/frozen yoghurt lollies are easy to have in and again, you’ll always find an offer on these. Sometimes we’ll bake together, too, which sort of saves time as it’s an activity for the afternoon, but one that also produces a handy snack!

5. OK, as far as the actual feeding time goes, with 2 little ones, it’s all about minimising mess and so saving me some cleaning up time! I always use the dishwasher and a must-have in our home is a handheld vacuum. It gets a lot of use! It’s so much easier and faster than getting the Dyson out after each and every meal and snack-time, and with the added bonus that my son quite likes wielding it, so he sometimes cleans! Another top tip would be to put a coverall bib onto your baby or toddler after strapping them in to the high-chair. This means that the bib has not only protected the child, but also the straps – less cleaning, hooray!

What about you? What tops tips would you add to save time or money? I do so love to do both!

For meal tips, you may like my Top 5 Family Meals post

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20 Comments

  1. Iona@redpeffer March 19, 2014
    • Jocelyn March 19, 2014
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    • Jocelyn March 21, 2014

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