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Named “One of America’s Best Work/Life Balance Resources,” Maria is known for her innovative solutions for today everyday mom challenges. She is the Founder of, Host of Mom Talk Radio and Host of The Balancing Act on Lifetime TV. Let Maria help you find smart solutions to motherhood.

Quick Dinner Solutions

Question: By the time I get home from work I'm exhausted. The last thing on my mind is fixing dinner, but I don't want to keep getting take-out or fast food every night. - Hannah J.

Answer: Meal planning can be one of the greatest challenges for working mothers. Here are a few solutions that I use to make dinner time less stressful.

Reintroduce yourself to your crockpot. Yes, it's not just your grandmother's favorite appliance anymore! Just about anything can be thrown into the pot. Try a roast with red potatoes, carrots and a package of dried French onion soup mix. Don't forget a little water. The best feature of a crockpot is that it's cooking while you are at work. In most cases, a complete meal can be prepared in just minutes with few dirty dishes and minimal slicing and dicing.

Instead of putting your groceries directly into the refrigerator, take a minute to prep them for eating. For example, go ahead and wash your grapes and put small portions into zip-loc bags for future lunchboxes or wash the lettuce so during the week, you can just grab and toss. Take time to make patties out of the pound of hamburger meat you are shoving into the freezer. Every minute you spend on the weekend when you shop, is a minute you gain when you are rushing to prepare dinner with a child at your ankles.

When you do find time to cook, always double your recipe and freeze half for another day. You will be happy to have a meal already prepared on a hectic day in the future and you're certain to get applause from your family who will enjoy the home-cooked meal. For nights when you are serving leftovers or meals from the freezer, serve the food straight from storage containers. There will be fewer dishes to wash and leftovers can go straight from the table to the refrigerator.

Become a self-serve eatery by buying a box of individual ketchup packets and disposable eating utensils. Fill a basket with these essentials and leave it in the middle of the table. Your next meal is guaranteed to have fewer trips between the table and kitchen.

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