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The Busy Family’s Guide to Stress-free Meal Prep

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Are you a mama who loves cooking, or one who would rather opt for takeout whenever possible? Whichever mama you are, we all have those busy days where we would like to throw together a quick, simple home-cooked meal to enjoy together with our families. We’re here to help our busy, tired mamas- here are some fuss-free recipes, as well as tips and hacks to help you take the stress out of meal prep! 


  • Tweak It

There’s no need to compromise on taste if you’re cooking a meal for both adults and children. Neither do you also have to double up your cooking time and prepare separate dishes to meet everyone’s dietary requirements. Unlike baked goodies, meal recipes are pretty forgiving, so adapt and tweak away! 

  • Reduce salt and sugar as required by recipes, add extra salt and sugar at the end for adult portions.
  • Hold back on the chillies and spice, and add it at the end instead.

If you’ve got adventurous kids who like a bit of heat, try this delicious Spaghetti Goreng Mamak recipe for a fabulous fusion meal (you can always tone down the spice factor, if needed):

  • Cook sauces and meats separately, if the sauce in the recipe isn’t suitable for young children. Keep a jar of pasta sauce on hand to pour over meats for a simple kid-friendly dish. You can even sneak in a decent amount of vegetables through these sauces, made even easier if you simply use a pasta sauce that already comes with vegetables! We love this easy, breezy Chicken Parmesan recipe: 


  • Freeze It

With school runs, work, errands and activities, most of us are dashing around from one place to another through the weekdays. Take advantage of the weekend to leisurely cook up a batch of food, so you can easily pop this into the microwave whenever you need to during those busy nights. Make sure you have some meals frozen into individual adult and kid portions for any last minute changes in dinner schedule or plans. 


  • Keep It Fast

If one-pot meals are not part of your meal rotations yet, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon! You’re going to be a devoted one-pot recipe fan, once you realise how these recipes can simplify your life. All you need to do is cook all your carbs, protein and vegetables in a single pot for a balanced nutritious meal, with minimal cleanup needed to boot! 

The Internet is full of quick recipe ideas for time-pressed mamas, so Google away to find something that suits your family’s preferences! You can do wonders with a simple pack of pasta – these low GI, low sodium carbs can easily be coupled together with healthy ingredients for a tasty meal for the whole family. We love simple spaghetti recipes, pasta noodles soup and also find jazzing up pasta sauces a lifesaver on busy days!

As a speedy treat, nothing beats the “comfort food-meets-convenience” combo of this Cheesy Chicken Macaroni Bake recipe:


  • Keep It Cold

Cold meals may not be something we were exposed to as kids, but it’s certainly a useful meal style to get our children accustomed to! Cold salads, sandwiches and pastas are easy to prepare, and can also pack a nutritious punch without nutrient-destructing heating and cooking methods involved.  

Try this Pasta and Egg Salad recipe – perfect as a healthy lunch, or as a delicious picnic treat with the family!


  • Meal Prep Tips and Hacks

We wrap up our guide with a couple of useful food and meal prep hacks to save you time and effort, and to help take the stress out of your busy lives:

  • Prepare your meat before freezing: Cut back the time needed for defrosting, marinating, and then waiting again for the meat to absorb all the spices. Marinate and prepare your meats before freezing them – when you’re ready to cook your meal, all you need to do is move this from the freezer, to the fridge, and to the pan!
  • Keep nut butters upside down: This hack will definitely be useful when you’re rushing to get that peanut butter jelly sandwich ready for breakfast! Stop the struggle of having to stir up separated peanut butter and oil. Storing nut butters upside down will force the oils at the top to travel back through the butter, redistributing the oils evenly.
  • Store marshmallows with your brown sugar: Unlike white sugar, brown sugar can dry out quickly, leading to hard clumps. Throwing a few marshmallows into an airtight container with your brown sugar will conserve the moisture and save you time from having to break up the hard clusters of sugar.
Source: TikTok@casa_tips
  • Cut onions with a peeler: Say goodbye to slow and teary onion cutting, mamas! Just hold the onion down with a fork and slice it with a vegetable peeler by running it back and forth over the top. Voila, your (tear-free) onions are done!
  • Have blender smoothie bags on standby: Pre-pack smoothie ingredients in ziplock bags and store them in the freezer. These bags will come in handy for you to whip out during rushed mornings, or when you need to put together a quick and healthy after-school snack. Use a ratio of three cups of any fruit or veggie combo and two cups of liquid.

And there you have it,  #makchicmumsquad – bon appetit!

[*Recipes by Hemala Devaraj of  The Sudden Cook]


This is a sponsored post by Alce Nero Organic.

Alce Nero Organic is a trusted brand imported directly from Italy, offering safe, fair and sustainable produce. It carries a range of 100% organic products, ranging from pastas and sauces, to condiments and jams. Get your hands on these quality products from Shopee, Lazada, or selected supermarkets near you.

RM500 worth of Alce Nero Organic products to be won by participating in the Nothing is Im-Pasta-Ble Giveaway Challenge. Giveaway ends on 24th March 2023. More details here

Elaine is a mummy of two who moved from the financial world to become an early childhood educator. She loves travelling, books and her cup of tea to unwind after a long day of diapers, school runs and pretend play.