5 Professional Moms on How They Balance Cooking and Kids

updated Sep 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Forrest Clonts)

Being a mom is all encompassing. Working outside the home on a career you have worked hard to build is all encompassing. Doing both at the same time is … whoa. Yet, scores of mothers do it every day, worldwide. Keeping together presentations, bake sale donations, work functions, late-night homework projects, and an entire household (not to mention, a little bit of television time so you don’t totally lose it) is no easy feat.

To get an idea of how the everyday superwoman manages it all, I talked with five moms who all have kids ranging from a few months to 4 years old. They all work outside the home between eight and 10 hours a day and they all cook almost daily for their families. Here are their best tips, tricks, and (sometimes the most important) favorite takeout meals that keep their family happy, healthy, and fed.

Note: Every mom works incredibly hard and our hats are off to all of you this Mother’s Day. This isn’t a piece discussing decisions to work outside the home or not — it’s a celebration and homage to making life, cooking, and kids all work together in one delicious package.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Meet the Moms

Alex: Journalist with a 2-year-old

Jamie: Federal agent with a 2.5-year-old and 1-year-old

Deanna: Product manager with a 1-year-old

Lisa: Occupational therapist with a 3.5-year-old and 1-year-old

Mckenzie: Food and beverage publicist, with a 6-month-old

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Favorite Kitchen Shortcuts

“Frozen peas. Rinse ’em off, hand ’em over. They’re fun to pick up and you can also add them to tons of things.” – Alex

“Soup noodles with leftovers.” – Deanna

“Always having fresh veggies on hand. I can eat them raw, steam them, or roast them easily.” – McKenzie

The “Easy” Meals That Are Secretly Not So Easy

“Mac and cheese takes time to prepare fresh even from the box!” – Jamie

“Anything that can be ‘done with one hand,’ but still includes ingredients that need to be cut up. So bogus.” – Alex

“Mac and cheese. It’s easy to mix ingredients, but takes more time than my children want to wait!” – Lisa

On Meals the Entire Family Enjoys (Most of the Time)

“Pasta dishes with veggies and chicken sausage. Variations are made for each family member. ” – Lisa

“Roasted chicken.” – Deanna

“There is no such thing with a 2- or 3-year-old — you are at the whim of their insanity.” – Jamie

(Image credit: Zoeytoja)

On Ordering Out When Necessary

“My youngest eats almost everything — it’s my older one that’s harder. She loves when we order sushi or Chinese.” – Lisa

“We’re on a first-name basis with the guys at our local pizza joint.” – Alex

Snap Kitchen. It comes individually packaged with calorie counts and heating instructions. I love their chicken chile enchiladas, and you can pick up in their store or get delivered.” – McKenzie

How Cooking Changed After Kids

“I used to shop for a recipe or whatever is in season; now I shop for what’s quick and easy to make.” – Deanna

“I used to cook a comprehensive meal five nights a week (protein, sides, salad, carb, etc.) and now I go for things that are quicker and don’t need to be watched.” – Lisa

“After I had a child my cooking had to get scaled way back. I cook less often and more simply. It’s not always what I’d like, but mostly I’ve accepted that this is the season I’m in. She’s getting to the point where she can help a bit more, and that’s a lot of fun. So it’ll pass.” – Alex

“In general, everything I make now has to be fast and easy. I find myself prepping items during the day and then cooking at night when she is feeding or just as she goes to sleep.” – McKenzie

“I cook way more and way healthier and simple.” – Jamie

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

On Lunches the Moms Loved as Kids

“Lunchables — what in the world was I thinking?” – Deanna

“Lunchables were also a big thing and Go-Gurt. I’m not sure I could force myself to eat either of those things now.” – Alex

“Doritos, cereal, white bread, Lunchables, or mozzarella sticks (my mom never gave me any of these, but a kid can dream).” – Jamie

How do you juggle work, cooking, and kids? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.