young happy family sitting around a dining table for breakfast

The beginning of term is a busy time for everyone. And whether your kids are just starting school, or heading back after the summer holidays, getting back into the routine can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare!

Luckily, we have a few tricks up our sleeves to get you back into the swing of things in no time. After all, who doesn’t need a little less stress in their lives?

One of the key things for making sure everything runs smoothly when they’re no longer on holiday is meal prep. Whether it’s breakfast, dinner, after school snacks, food takes up time – preparing, shopping for, making lists or simply just feeding a variety of hungry mouths at various different times!

For a foolproof approach, follow the steps below to get everything running like clockwork in no time!

Get your kitchen ready

1) Have a clear out

Clearing out the cupboards to make way for all those essentials is going to really help when you’re short of time. If you have old tins of food that you are not going to use, take them to the food bank or empty them out and recycle them if they’re out of date, and simply make more room in your cupboards. This will really help you find things when you’re in a rush as well as be able to prioritise snacks and lunchtime extras.

2) Organisation

Organising your pantry is a great way to start being able to speed up your time doing meal prep. After you’ve had a clear out, put things in jars and label them. Why not also create some lists so everyone knows what’s being eaten and on which day! Make a note of what you’re low on too, to help make trips to the shops a little quicker and easier.

And don’t forget, we’ve got plenty of storage solutions to help you keep everything in order! Check out our kitchen shelving for lots of ideas on how you can get extra space in your kitchen, in an instant!

black corner wire shelf in a pantry setting

3) Create a snack station

It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, kids always seem to be hungry. To make sure they don’t come home and fill themselves up on crisps and cereal before dinner, create a snack station.

Fill it with healthy snacks such as dried fruit, rice cakes and nuts so they can stop their tummies from rumbling until dinner time. You might even want to top up on little plastic air-tight containers so that you can easily refill them as well as portion food out.

4) Recipe prep

There’s no harm in getting a little helping hand now and again. So, make sure you do your own homework before the kids go back and stock up on simple, quick, healthy recipes for them family to enjoy.

There are lots of free recipes and ideas for cooking for children online so save a few and pop them aside for later on. That way, you always have a few tricks up your sleeves for quick dinners when time’s tight.

5) Post a menu

And while you’re planning your dinners, post a menu for the week up on the kitchen wall. This can be a white board or a chalk board, and it will really help things run smoothly. Your children will not only be able to see what they’re having for dinner, but they might even be able to see how they can help get things ready when you’re running late. It might also stop them from accidentally mistaking Thursday night’s mini pizzas as a snack... we can only hope!

6) Have a backup plan

There are always going to be days when things don’t go to plan. Make sure you don’t waste precious pennies on expensive takeaways by stocking up the freezer on a few extras – just in case. You might want to freeze some portions of healthy soup, or simply have a few frozen dinners ready to whip out at a moment’s notice. This is also great if you happen to be tired or unwell and simply don’t have the energy to keep up with the daily schedule.

September is definitely a busy time but hopefully these tips will help you get back on track in no time! Got any home secrets for keeping your kitchen running like clockwork? Don’t keep them to yourself!

Find us on Instagram and Facebook @HartleysDirect and let us know how you do it!