How to Structure Family Meals While Working from Home. It’s never been easy to wrangle the whole family into one place for dinner, but modern life presents its own unique set of challenges.
And although plenty of people try to offer solutions, most of them are focused on parents that work outside the home.
These are great resources! But if you, like me, work at home, then your needs are a little bit different.
How to Structure Family Meals While Working from Home
There are two main ways you can structure your family meals when you work from home. The first is to set a work schedule and then fit family meals in around it.
Your other option is to set the time for family meals – including prep work – and then create your work schedule around these touchstones.
Whichever option you choose, you have to keep a few things in mind. The first is that you will have to prep your meals at some point.
As you will see below, you can do this in a few different ways. But they all require a time commitment that doesn’t include actually sitting down at the table.
The other thing to keep in mind is that family meals aren’t really about the meal. It’s about getting as much of your family together as possible and enjoying one another’s company.
Family meals are supposed to be a common ground where the whole family can gather to connect. So long as you manage that – and some healthy meals along the way – you have achieved a “proper” family dinner.
No matter what kind of food your family likes – or what restrictions they may have – you will have to invest some time in meal prep.
But, you can actually save money with meal prep when done right.
You can always do this right before you serve the meal. Something like this one-pan chicken dinner is easy to assemble and sure to please most of the family.
But if you want something a little more complex – or your schedule is busy enough that cooking from scratch won’t work every night – then you’ll want to prep your meals ahead of time. And this is where your options really open up.
- Related: Meal Prep Tips For Busy Moms
Following these meal prep tips, you can start a once-a-week meal prep tradition. It’s a great chance for the family to connect while you all work together.
Although it will take the better part of a day, you will end up with most (if not all) of the meals you will need for a week.
Some will be pre-cooked and just need reheating. Others will be pre-portioned so you can dump the ingredients in a slow cooker after breakfast and let it simmer until dinnertime while you work.
You can also opt for a streamlined version where you only prep the portions for one or two meals a day.
Breakfast smoothies are a great example of this. You can portion out the ingredients on Sunday night, then blend them up any day of the week while the family gets ready in the morning.
Smoothies are not only a quick and easy option for getting breakfast ready for everyone… but since you can pack them with nutritious fruits and vegetables, they’re also a healthy option for the whole family. And if you’re trying to slim down, you can make filling, healthy smoothies to lose weight.
For a little added fun, each family member can have one day a week where the smoothie flavor is their favorite.
It’s a fun and unique tradition that is easy on your work schedule yet still brings the family together.
Working from home can leave you a little bit scattered, and that makes things like meal planning even more of a bear. Thankfully, there are some easy ways that you can streamline the process.
And if you incorporate a few family-wide habits in the mix, you’ll find it easy to transition from work to family meals and back whenever you need!
The first thing you can do is reduce the amount of cooking prep you have to do. This might seem off, given that the last section was all about prep work.
You can also buy fingerling potatoes and cook them whole, rather than chop russets. And if you’re in a real pinch, baby carrots are handy for a lot more than after-school snacks and veggie trays!
It also helps to cook extra portions that you can “repurpose” into lunches for the next few days. This is especially true of tofu. It’s so easy to add to salads or pastas, turning low-protein snacks into balanced meals!
- Related: 6 Easy Tips For Healthier Snacking
Getting the Family in on It
All the prep work in the world will only take you so far. Getting at the heart of family meals takes the whole family.
That isn’t as hard as it sounds, though. If you’re starting while your family is still relatively young, it will just take a little bit of time for new habits to sink in.
If your family already has their set habits, however, you’ll need to practice a little bit of patience. And you will want to start small.
If each of your family members usually do their own thing for dinner, try a once-a-week family dinner that everyone chips in on. Whether it’s setting the table or making a simple yet tasty salad like this one, there’s bound to be a job that everyone can do.
Once you’ve gotten your family into this small groove, you can build on it. Make family meals a twice-weekly event, or expand meal prep to include breakfast. Get your family in on the act of cleaning up after the meal and make a point of chatting while you all work together.
It will take time, but as the connections start to grow, the investment will be well worth it. And when you have to hide yourself away to finish your work, you’ll work better knowing your family is a little bit closer.
How to Structure Family Meals While Working from Home – Conclusion
Working from home isn’t easy, despite what some people think. It’s very easy to let your home life distract you, and even easier to get so lost in your work that your family life becomes strained.
Plus, when you work from home, the temptation to try and do it all at once is ever-present. But when it comes to family meals, that’s the last thing you want to do.
Take the time each day to eat at least one meal with your family. No work, no electronics.
Share your achievements and ask about theirs. Listen to their failures and let them comfort you in yours.
That, after all, is the essence of a family dinner. And some of our best connections might just be a dinner away.