One day during class, one of our families brought in an adorable, grinning, six-month-old girl. She was very sweet and, like every baby, dependent on others for everything. Spending just that short time bouncing and cuddling her reminded me of the many hours I spent with my arms full of my own babies. Those babies are now 13 and 15, and my hands are full driving to swim practices, music, dance team practices, basketball games, and Scholars Bowl tournaments.
Both scenarios are part of the dynamic of parenting, and those and every stage in-between are incredibly busy with the business of raising kind, responsible, well-rounded human beings. The most stressful part of the daily work is that, as parents, we also need to feed our children and teach them to feed themselves. This is where meal planning and a device like the Instant Pot® can take a huge amount of stress off dinner time.
Each week, I do my best to finish my meal plan and grocery list by Saturday afternoon. This way I can do the weekly shopping after music lessons Saturday afternoon, or after mass Sunday morning. We always plan one night a week for a restaurant, so that takes one night off the menu plan.
Then, Sunday afternoon I’m able to do any necessary prep work and any cook-ahead work for particularly busy nights. Some of my family’s favorites are enchiladas, chicken nachos, and salmon bakes (roast veggies for 15 minutes at 425-degrees, then add salmon and cook 15 more minutes—done!). With the Instant Pot, I can do 2-3 meals ahead in one afternoon, or I can have a full meal done in less than 30 minutes!
Some of our favorite dishes we’ve cooked in the Instant Pot have been lamb Bolognese with zoodles, pot roast, pulled pork BBQ, and chicken in a wine and mushroom sauce (that one took only 10 minutes to cook once it was all put together).
I admit that it’s not always easy to get the meal plans done, and sometimes I need to remind myself how much easier the week will actually be once I get them completed and the prep work done. Whichever stage my family is in—baby, toddler, preschooler, or busy student-athlete, having dinner covered ahead of time reduces my stress level as well as the chances of a last-minute fast food run.
Note: Instant Pot is a registered trademark of Double Insight Inc.