Making Healthy Meals for Kids & Families
When our reference team calls previous employers, one area of improvement families frequently mention is simple cooking. We all know that cooking a meal with children running around or while you are also excepted to deep clean your employers’ home can be difficult, so here are a few tips for you!
Communicate with your employer: Do they even want you to cook or do meal prep? Some families will love this and others would prefer to do it all themselves. If they do want or expect your cooking, let them know your abilities. Ask them to provide some simple recipes to get you started. Once you get a feel for what they like, ask if they want you to take the reins and do the planning, prep and cooking. Some families might love to get this off their plate (see what we did there? 😎 ) and other families would like to plan out the recipes they have every week. You and the family need to develop a system and plan that works for you, and a huge part of that is communicating expectations and preferences.
Items that are Off-Limits: Obviously, ask parents if your charge or a member of the family has any allergies. Parents can often have items that are off limits. Make sure you ask parents about their preferences surrounding food and what they are comfortable with in their home. Beyond just food allergies, Whole Foods has a list of “unacceptable food ingredients,” and that might be a good place to start!
Utilize Apps: Use Pinterest to gather all the recipes that have been a hit for your employer! Delete the ones that were not too good. Recipe Keeper has a ton of reviews and it allows you to keep recipes and grocery lists in your phone. How cool is that?
Plan ahead: If you are responsible for grocery shopping and meal planning, do not wait until 4:30 in the afternoon to start planning and shopping. Get a jump start in the morning. Get to the store early to get all the necessary ingredients for dinner. That way you can chop, prep and clean up during nap time or a slower portion of your day. There is no need for this to be stressful, with enough planning, you can make meal prep easy!
Ask for Resources: If you think a subscription to a cooking magazine, a cookbook or certain appliance will help you, ask! Does you employer love Ina Garden? Ask if you can borrow her cooking book to review for ideas. Does your client have an Instapot or Crockpot? If so, use it some days for easy low-fuss meals. If they do not, ask if it is something you might all benefit from.
Snack Attack: When children, or adults, are hungry, they are more likely to order out, make unhealthy choices or have meltdowns. Keep some healthy snacks prepped in the fridge. Wash carrots, celery and cherry tomatoes and keep them in individual sized portions. Employers and children can grab one as needed. Portion out Greek yogurt and berries for kids or employers to have for mornings on the go.
When our references team is talking to past employers, the overwhelming sense we get is that while it would be fantastic for Housekeepers and Nannies to take on meal prep and simple cooking, it comes second to their primary role. It is important that employees keep an open mind, but also be realistic about the amount of time you have to complete your duties. If you have only a few hours to clean a house or you have a full-day of activities for your charges, you might not have time to prepare a meal, and that is okay, just be communicative with your employer about what you can get done!