Meals made easy: 3 ways to simplify dinner time

2. Leave the heavy lifting to the pros.

Meals made easy: 3 ways to simplify dinner time
? cred: Donna Irene

When you hear “simple family dinner,” your mind probably jumps to the list of takeout menus in the kitchen drawer. But before you dial up your local pizza place, we’d like to offer a few (healthier and less expensive!) options.

Here are three ways to simplify dinner time so you spend less preparing and more time eating as a family.

1. Pick one night to prep everything.

Yep, you heard us: everything. Wash and chop the veggies, layer casseroles to freeze, prep crock pot “dump” bags, and anything else you can do ahead. When weeknight dinners roll around, you’ll only have a few things to do (or defrost) before dinner is on the table. (Need an activity to keep the little ones busy while you cook? Check out these 7 creativity-boosting ideas.)

Sunday can be a great day to get everything done because you’ll have most of the day to chop, roast, freeze, and get on with your bad, super-prepped mama self.

2. Leave the heavy lifting to the pros.

Save yourself hours spent grocery shopping by subscribing to a recipe delivery service! We love Sun Basket because it provides organic, non-GMO, and sustainably sourced ingredients for every meal. The pre-portioned ingredients make it easy to get kids involved in cooking, which many experts agree is one of the best ways to thwart pickiness. Choose the family plan to get two to four recipes delivered every week — they’ve even got gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian options available.

Psst: Click here to get three free family meals from Sun Basket!

3. Delegate some of the cooking.

Don’t worry, we’re not recommending giving your toddler free reign of the kitchen. Start with simple tasks like mixing and adding ingredients to start training little ones to help out. As their motor skills and attention span improve, your child can help with scooping, measuring, and plating. (Bonus points: You can totally work in an impromptu math lesson here!) Trust us: Your kid makes the cutest sous chef ever.

We only include products we love in Motherly SHOP. Through affiliate programs, we may receive a revenue percentage if you purchase through our website.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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