Easy Meals? — The Bump
Working Moms

Easy Meals?

My husband and I work full time and have about 20 minutes to a half hour to make dinner each weeknight.  We have fallen in a rut of repeating the same lame dinners for the kids each night -- pre-made frozen organic chicken nuggets, sandwiches on wheat bread with avocado, beans or peanut butter and fruit, organic mac and cheese, frozen fish by Trident, scrambled eggs, salmon, or wheat pasta with Rao's jarred sauce.  On the side we put fruit, veggies or yogurt.

I like to think that it's decently healthy food, but last night my husband and I stressed that we are messing the kids up by not cooking completely non-processed food.  Do you agree, and if so, please give advice about what else we could cook in the short amount of time that we have.

Thanks!

Re: Easy Meals?

  • Tonight I bought romaine lettuce and cooked up chopped chicken breast and made chicken Caesar salad.
    Sometime it's my hubby's turn to "cook" and he orders pizza, which I supplement with a salad of some kind.
    My kids are 12, 7, and almost 3. All learn to pitch in with meal prep. I work day and evening shifts as a nurse.
    I got a lot of help from cookbooks and my slow cooker to get out of the spaghetti rut we were in.
  • I think we rely on processed food way too much and it is
    expensive and unnecessary, although not bad once in a while.  Here are some ideas I have used. 

     Make spaghetti sauce in crockpot and freeze into portions.  I also make pizza sauce on the stove and
    freeze

    Grilled chicken

    Baked chicken (takes no effort to make just time to cook you
    can make it night before and reheat if you are pressed for time).  I love putting minced garlic on it with rosemary and wrap it with bacon.  Yummm and my kids who are two and four eat it.

    Pre-make a pizza wrap it and put it in the fridge come home
    and put it in the oven

    I make a big salad early in the week and use it as a side
    throughout the week.  I use an airtight Pyrex
    container and it stays fresh

    Make and freeze mashed potatoes

    Pre-make burger patties and grill with some veggies

    Chicken, potatoes and carrots in the crockpot is great same with
    a pot roast

    Pork tenderloin in the oven is effortless but takes time to
    cook.  You can make it the night before
    and reheat.  I like boiled potatoes and
    carrots as a side

     

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  • Crock pot is a lifesaver during the week. I make Sante Fe Chicken minis the chicken with black beans, quinoa, tomatos, corn, etc and will use the extra to make enchiladas for another night. Another easy meal I rely on is taco salad, the meat or beans can be made the night before and salad thrown together in 15 min. I completely agree that it's hard not to get in an eating rut.
  • We rely on the "healthy" processed food sometimes too, especially when I know it might be a bad weather/traffic night. I try to wake up about 15 minutes earlier than I normally would most days to do some dinner prep before everyone in my house wakes up. This sometimes includes setting out the pots/pans I need, cutting up veggies or even browning meat ahead of time. This way I can come in the door wash my hands and immediately start cooking by just dumping everything into the pan/oven. I also try to find a weekend once every few weeks to make a bunch of freezer stuff---meatballs, lasagna roll ups, spaghetti sauce, soups etc. Then I defrost a meal in the fridge starting the night before and come home and just cook it in the oven for 20-30 minutes. 

    Here are a few other suggestions:
    Tacos (you can make your own seasoning or buy the prepackaged) All the toppings I prep in the morning and recover in the fridge so all I have to do is cut up some avocados and mash up for some fresh guac. You can even brown the meat and reheat, or I usually just cook the meat quickly when I get home. 

    Stir-fry. Use whatever veggies are in season, or frozen. You can add chicken or not. 

    Burgers. We use turkey or ground beef. Then I make some homemade fries with potatoes or sweet potatoes in the oven. 

    Zoodles. My son really likes these. I got a spiralizer for christmas, then we put homemade spaghetti sauce from the freezer over it.

    You can also do things like roast a chicken on a weekend day and then I use it in a few meals during the week. Might make quessidillas one night, a soup with a bunch of veggies the next and a salad another day. I use my crock pot sometimes--did a pork roast last night and made pulled pork out of it for dinner. 

    Seriously, prepping stuff the night before or the morning of has been a huge lifesaver for me. Makes jumping in and just starting to cook and get dinner on the table fast so much easier. 
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  • There are tons of ideas on Pinterest. Have you looked there?

    My friend at work just did a trial of Blue Apron and said it was delicious. I'm thinking about giving it a shot for the night my H is home.
  • Do you have a crock pot? You can make lots of healthy meals in there. You can start it at night while you're sleeping or right before you go to work and it'll be done by the time you get home. Defintiely check out Pinterest, All Recipes, Food Network websites. Also Pinterest, has some yummy one pot meals that take 20-30 mins (including prep time).
  • We've been trying to revive the weekly what's for dinner thread which has given me some good ideas
    IVF, acupuncture, meditation and a miracle. 

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     Our sweet Valentine's Day FET.

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  • Honestly, sometimes I think my life would be so much easier if I did processed food just one night a week.  We eat completely non processed every night and only get dinner out maybe twice a month.  It is exhausting.  One thing that really helps is prepping everything the night before.  I would chop all veggies, season or marinate meat, etc.  Also, the freezer is your friend.  I love meals that I can make a whole crap load of and freeze all of the leftovers for another night.  (soups, chilis, quiches, pasta dishes, meatballs and meatloaf all freeze really well)  The crockpot is also your friend.  Prep everything the night before and stick it all in the crockpot.  Stick the entire crockpot in the fridge and the next morning all you have to do is take it out of the fridge and turn it on.  If you want to change you certainly can do it.  Just know that it will take a lot more planning and a lot more work before you go to bed.  No more vegging out and watching tv or reading a book before bed.  Good luck.
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  • Here are my favorite ideas for easy meals:

    Make a double batch of shredded chicken or pork in the crock pot and freeze half. Then you can use that to top salads, in burritos or just mix it up with some rice and veggies. Also do a double batch of crock pot soup or chili every week and freeze the other half. 

    Set aside and hour or two on Sunday afternoon to prep for the week. Peel all your veggies, clean all your fruit and gather the ingredients for each meal together so it is grab and go. 

    Now that the weather is getting nicer I think the best time-saving healthy dinners are on the grill. You can easily throw some chicken breasts on the grill along with some asparagus or corn on the cob, add a small side salad and you have a great meal and very few dishes to clean up afterward. We try to grill 2-3x per week in the spring/summer. You can also do pork tenderloin, steak, fish, which all take less than 30 min. Make a giant salad on Sunday night, but don't dress it and then eat it throughout the week.  

    My favorite super quick meals are: 30-min chili, Burritos/taco salads, Breakfast for dinner - omelet with pre chopped veggies and sliced nitrate free ham, pulled pork in the crock pot, Chicken breast, asparagus and thinly sliced potatoes in one dish drizzle with olive oil and season - set to 425 for 25 min, turkey burgers with avocado and sweet potato fries, 

    Also, check Trader Joes or Whole Foods for healthier versions of pre made dishes. I've found some great things at Trader Joes that have fewer preservatives and can be thrown together quickly. Also, Costco. 
     

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