The ability to multitask is essential for any mom who wants to run a home-based business while keeping her kids close.  But sometimes playing the chef can feel like a full-time job!  Between planning the weekly menu, doing the shopping, prep work, and cooking three square meals a day for your whole brood, you might be spending way more time than you want ensuring that everyone in your household is getting the proper nutrition.  And yet, you don’t want to resort to preservative-laden microwave meals and pre-packaged foods as a quick way to get them all fed.  So how do you strike a balance that allows you to see to the health of your family without impacting your business or other obligations?  With just a few simple tips and tricks, you can shorten your time in the kitchen and still enjoy fresh and healthy foods.

1.       Cook big.  By preparing large meals early in the week (or even over the weekend) and freezing some, you can easily reheat for a nutritious, home-cooked meal with a fraction of the time and effort.  Casseroles and soups are ideal for freezing while pasta and veggie dishes can be stored in the fridge for several days.  Planning ahead and preparing a lot of food makes it easier to feed your family during the busy work week. Here are some great chicken recipes that are delicious and easy to make.

2.       Fruit and veggie snacks.  While it’s always easier to let you kids reach for pre-packaged snacks like cookies, crackers, and fruit roll-ups, consider how much processed sugar and sodium you’re allowing them to ingest with this method of snacking.  Not too healthy.  Instead, stock up on fresh fruits and veggies that kids will love (that require little prep time).  If they’re just not into crudité or bananas with peanut butter, find some novelty ice-cube trays to make fruit-smoothie popsicles (a great summertime treat).

3.       Organics.  Believe it or not, you can now find a lot of easy options when it comes to organic food items.  And it’s not just fruits and vegetables anymore.  There are tons of cereals, snacks, and meal-planning staples that come devoid of chemical additives, so you can feel good about giving them to your family.  One great option for kids at snack-time is organic granola bars, which are both nutritious and delicious (not to mention free of harmful pesticides and preservatives).

4.       Split duties.  Unless you’re a single parent, you needn’t be the only one cooking in your household.  You likely work just as hard as (if not harder than) your spouse, between caring for kids and running a business.  So when it comes to handling family meals, split the duty with your spouse.  You may still be on the hook for grocery shopping and so on, but at least you’ll have a few nights each week where you can relax instead of standing at the stove.

5.       Teach kids to cook.  As your kids get older, there’s no reason you can’t press them into service as helpers in the kitchen.  They can choose meals and learn to cook them in a safe environment, whether they’re stirring the pot, adding ingredients, or running the whole shebang.  The best part is, you’re teaching your kids valuable life skills even as you get a bit of relief from the demands of your unique position.

Jennifer Kardish writes for where you can find amazing recipes, informative parenting articles, diet and nutrition advice, and much more.

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