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I remember the days before I had kids… sleeping in until noon, jetting off for a weekend at the drop of a hat, cooking a nice dinner ‘just because’ and enjoying it in silence. Gone are those days – now every trip out of the house requires a game plan, every morning is bright and early, and every dinner made is a chore with a *high energy* toddler on the loose. I think every mom can relate to dinnertime being a PITA – kids are hungry, they’re tired, and you’re feeling the same way. All aboard the #hotmessexpress!
REAL LIFE DISCLAIMER: I sometimes fail at dinner – fail hard. I make meals that my husband hates, or my kids refuse to eat, or don’t plan ahead and we eat something out of a box or a bag. It’s real. It happens. 99% of days, I don’t have the energy to make a full, fresh dinner from scratch with two young kids running around. But there are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way to get dinner on the table quicker and easier:
Try a Meal Service
Sometimes our weeks are crazy: someone gets sick, one of us has a night meeting, or I don’t plan a meal for every night of the week. When HelloFresh asked if I wanted to try a box, I jumped at the chance. Taking the planning and thinking out of dinnertime? Yes, please! Use code LOVELYLUCKYLIFE35 for $35 off your first box!
Here’s a brief rundown of how it works: you choose your meals on their site, you pick your delivery day, they ship you everything in a special container (you don’t have to be home to receive it), and you’re all set to make those meals!
What I liked…
- They send EVERYTHING – except for kitchen basics like salt, pepper, sugar, butter, and olive oil – but my box included every other ingredient, including the milk, eggs, vegetables, and meat needed for each recipe.
- Each meal is created by a chef and nutritionist and includes a good mix of proteins and veggies.
- The recipe is included and you get to keep it. If you LOVE what you make, it’s easily repeatable.
- Everything is pre-measured. Less room for error, less mess.
Keep the Kitchen Interesting
I don’t want my kitchen overrun with toys but there are a few things I keep on hand that fit in with my kitchen decor that my kids can play with. Magnetic letters are a huge hit; I spray painted mine matte black to make them look a little prettier than the typical plastic rainbow. Only do this after your kids are old enough to stop putting everything in their mouths – spray paint chips are not a good appetizer ;). I also try to keep my centerpieces kid-friendly; this season, a little wooden tray with fresh gourds was Coop’s favorite kitchen toy/activity. Pull out the pots and pans and let them rock out. I always play music when I’m cooking – makes it easier to have an impromptu dance party.
Snack it Up
My kids *always* want something to snack on before dinner. In an attempt to avoid them spoiling their dinner, I give them a little snack platter with stuff I don’t mind them eating before the main event: blueberries, strawberries, apple bits, sliced banana, orange slices, red bell pepper slices, chunks of cheese, almonds, carrots and ranch, celery with peanut butter. All easy stuff that they can nibble.