Homeschool Troubleshooting: What About Meals?

Welcome to our latest entry in our Homeschool Troubleshooting series.

Here’s one I hear slightly less often than some of the first few posts, but it still comes up often enough to address:

How do you homeschool and still get three meals a day on the table?!

homeschool troubleshooting mealsSometimes you don’t. That’s why $5 Little Caesar’s pizzas were invented. *cough*

Ok, I know. That’s not a REAL solution. What will actually help?

Keep Meals Simple

This probably goes without saying but I’m going to say it anyway. The days that you are up to your eyeballs in homeschooling (reading aloud, science experiments, grammar on the whiteboard, Latin declensions, oh my!) are NOT the days that you are likely to produce gourmet meals.

Simple, quick, easy, are probably the name of the game on those days.

Adjust your expectations accordingly.

And as far as lunches and breakfasts go, seriously, alternate two or three basic meals and call it good.

Special breakfasts or lavish lunches are for special days, not every day of the week.

Spend Your Time Wisely

I know, meal planning isn’t glamorous. And it doesn’t have to be Pinterest / Instagram ready. It needn’t be “cute”. A sheet of notebook paper taped to the pantry door will do in a pinch. (But by all means, make it cute if that helps you to actually do it.)

But there are three meals a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year… and you need to know what your family is eating for those meals.

Plan a week at a time or a month at a time or a quarter at time.

Have theme nights. (Taco Tuesday, anyone?)

Have a list of meals you can throw together quickly when the plan falls apart. (We have several soups that we can easily make with pantry / freezer ingredients in a pinch.)

Have a pre-printed grocery list or keep a running list handy. When you run out of a staple ingredient, that needs to go on the list immediately. (And for goodness sakes, start training your children young NOT to put empty boxes back in the pantry. Yes, some of my children still occasionally do this and it drives. me. nuts.)
wooden utensils

Use Your Tools Wisely

Crockpots are lifesavers for a homeschool mom. Start your supper in the morning and then don’t think about it again until later.

We got an Instant Pot for Christmas. If you didn’t get one, buy one for yourself as a gift now and thank me later. (You’re welcome.) The Instant Pot brings pressure cooking into the digital age.

We got ours for Christmas and we’ve used it basically every other day since. (Slight exaggeration. But it has been used weekly for sure!)

We may not have household staff, but in our modern age we do have Instant Pots, crockpots, microwaves, refrigeration, deep freezers, and so much more, not to mention dishwashers.

Teach yourself to use this “Staff” as wisely as you can. (Bit of advice for the homeschool mom with more than two children: you need more than one crock pot. Or you need a combination of crock pots / Instant Pots. You can thank me later.)

Teach Your Children

I know, I know, having a child help s-l-o-w-s the meal prep instead of speeding it up. But it pays off later, trust me.

You, homeschool mom, should be working yourself out of a job here.

(And no, you needn’t let all of your children into the kitchen at once. Assign one per day or per meal or whatever works for you.)

Here’s a hint: not everything has to be made from scratch (unless you’re working with some severe allergies or budget restrictions). A child can learn to follow the directions on a muffin mix box almost as soon as they can read. (With supervision, of course.)

Accept Help

This goes with the above point, but I want to repeat it. Here’s a confession: my husband likes to cook more than I do. And he will cook several meals through the week (depending on his work schedule).

This means we have to work together on meal planning and grocery lists. And that takes a little more time.

But it also means I don’t have to cook every meal myself. So, that’s time well spent!

Give Yourself Grace

Ok, so you served your family takeout. So what?
bowl of cereal
You had cold cereal for two out of three meals on a really bad day. Oh well.

Using convenience food when you need to is not a moral failure. You are not a bad wife / mom / homemaker just because you don’t cook all 1092 meals per year (not counting snacks) from scratch.


This judgment thing has got to stop.

Sometimes the Chick Fil A playplace is a sanity saver for the kids AND mom. #justsayin

When you notice the eating out / takeout habit creeping in a little too often for your family (and only you know what that means for your crew), then it’s time to employ some strategies like meal planning, pantry stock piling, and simplifying expectations.

But one hamburger every now and again from the Golden Arches is not going to ruin your child. (Conversely, if you have a child who crows, “We’re home!” when you pull into the McDonald’s parking lot, you may need to admit there’s a problem.)

Sitting down together to eat is the main thing. Sometimes you just have to do what it takes to make that happen.

Just to reiterate my top advice: Marry a Man Who Loves to Cook.

Hey, it worked for me!

meals homeschool troubleshooting

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