working moms-dinner secrets — The Bump
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working moms-dinner secrets

Calling all working moms!  What are your secrets for getting yummy healthy meals onto the table quickly?  I feel like I get home and by the time I cook dinner up it's 6:30, and the kids are cranky from empty tummies!  Any tips?  There are only so many crockpot receipes!
~Susan Mommy to H 08.07.06, and G 10.11.08, m/c(d&c) 08.10.05 13wks image
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Re: working moms-dinner secrets

  • I prep the night ahead so when I get home, I'm mostly assembling and then grilling or putting something in the oven.  I try to stick with 20 minute or less recipies during the week. And I plan menus.

    This plan all goes to heck during the summer when meals are more grilling and we're at the playground later or have swim lessons.

  • When I was working, we did meals during the week that could serve us for two nights. So grilled chicken one night with chicken caesar salad the next night. That way we only had to worry about cooking a full meal twice on work nights. We also gave the kids a late snack on the way home to help hold them over until dinner time. Even now that I stay home, we don't eat dinner any earlier during the week because DH still gets home around 6-6:30. So the kids still get a snack (and lately me too) around 4:30 to make waiting for dinner easier.
  • I also plan ahead, and have a weekly menu.  We do a ton of grilling and that helps a lot.  I also try and make extra so we can have leftovers the next night.  Trader Joe's has really good meatballs that take about 15 min in the oven and make any pasta dish great.  I also get the Orange Chicken at Trader Joes and recently tried the breaded chicken tenders which are also really good. 

    I make sure DS has a snack around 5ish or a glass a milk while he is waiting for dinner.

  • I'm not a working mom, but sometimes I cook ahead so I just have to reheat on the day of... like make a lasagna on Sunday and just reheat pieces in the microwave on Monday and Tuesday.  You could make a casserole at night after the kids go to bed on Wed and then eat that on Thur and Fri... or make a pot of soup or soemthing easy to heat up later.  

    Or some nights, make breakfast for dinner or eat turkey sandwiches.  :) 

  • Make DH cook.

    I kid, I kid.  I am so glad I'm not in charge of dinner.  K is starving when DH gets home with her so he is always scrambling, so I really need to bite the bullet and we need to have a cooking frenzy on Sundays to prep him for the week.  He likes to cook but not in advance.  [I get home after bedtime..]

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  • I use alot of freezer meals. I currently make them with a group but you could do it on your own too. Its just as easy to make two meals as it is to make one. so when you make a casserole for example make two freeze one. you can do this with all sorts of stuff so its ready to go.

    I also make meals that can do double duty. chicken and mashed potatoes one night turn into chicken burritos the next.

    I meal plan so one I only shop for what I will need that week and two its on the calander and planned. I work around whats going on that week. if I know I am going to have oine later night I plan a simple meal like breakfast for dinner or burgers on the grill. nights I will have more time I can plan meals that may take a bit longer.

    All in all planning is really the key. If you know  whats for dinner tomorrow you can make sure you have it ready to go the night before

    Dawn - Wife of Brian 09/25/2005 - Mother of Eli Jace 03/12/2007 and Kai Evan 10/17/08

  • I'm not a Mom yet but I feel the same way. If I try to cook everything after work, we don't eat till late. Like others have said I meal plan weekly. We usually do our shopping on Saturday, so I try to do as much prep on Saturday and Sunday as possible. I do most of the chopping, and if the recipe allows I will do some cooking too. It saves soooo much time. I can just grab what I need and throw it together when I get home, with very little prep. 
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  • image kaskade:
    Make DH cook.
    This!! And I don't kid. ;)

    TJ does the cooking in our house 97% of the time (OK, who am I kidding it's more like 99.9%). He gets home earlier than I do, plus I have to pick up M from my mom's on the way home. Usually he's got dinner done/started by the time M and I get home around 6:30/7. If we waited until I got home we wouldn't eat until nearly 9.

    TTC #1 Sept 2008
    M/C 9/21/09 | M/C 12/24/09 | BFP 1/23/10
    Madeline Rey DOB 9/30/10
    TTC # 2 Jan 2013
    BFP 3/12/13 | EDD 11/18/13
    It's a GIRL! Lydia Marie!
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  • Things I do....given that I don't "really" meal plan....

    1. I rarely cook anything that has more than 5 ingredients - but that's just me.
    2. "Leftovers" is not a dirty word. When I actually cook, I purposefully make leftovers. I have little tupperware dishes and make at least 2 more full adult meals. DH and I eat lunch out a LOT so we always make little meals from those leftovers too and just embellish them a bit at home.
    3. When I turn the oven on (to make a quick meal like TJ's eggplant parm or chinese chicken) I don't waste the heat. I'll whip up a pasta meal or a lasagna, cook it while we eat and then and throw it in the fridge for the next night.
    4. We follow a similar guideline each week: Leftover Mondays, Chinese Dinner Wednesdays, Pizza Fridays. Then I just fill in the gaps.
    5. Pre-cooked chicken breasts from Costco/FM/QFC are a lifesaver. I rarely cook chicken anymore. I just use these. I'll make a nice chicken breast meal from the breasts, then shred the rest and use it throughout the week for other meals (pastas usually).
    6. I keep all my personal (and friend's) favorites loaded HERE and refer to them on my phone when I shop and cook!
  • I try to cook once for 2 days. For example, last night we had taco salads (J had a quesadilla). I cooked 2x the meat I needed and portioned off half for tonight's dinner. I assembled a casserole with it last night after the kids were in bed so tonight I just need to throw it in the oven for 30min.

    When we grill chicken, we'll have chix pizzas the next night, mooshu chicken or chicken sandwiches the next night. And wed nights when we have church is always leftover night.

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