Post # 1
So, for those of you who have babies/kids, work full time and do the lion’s share of the cooking, how do you have time to cook a decent meal after work and make sure your child has time to eat it before they go to bed, particularly if they’re young babies who go to bed at 7:30-8?? Right now baby’s meals are simple (purees and such bc he’s not quite 10 months and has no teeth) and we often eat after he goes to bed, but what about when he will eat real meals with us? For me I only have 1.5-2 hours to get home, play with baby for a bit, cook while I feed him, get him ready for bed, read a story and put him to bed. And yes DH helps (sort of), but even so, all I can think of is that I’ll have to somehow find times to prep in advance, make a bunch for leftover or rely on super simple meals.
What do you do? Do you plan it all out for the week or keep it very simple (and potentially boring?) Oh, and our household is mostly vegan/vegetarian so I can’t just slap some meat on the grill 🙂
Post # 3
Batch cook. There are only two of us (at the moment) both work full time quite long hours. We batch cook loads of stuff and freeze it. Just get out what we want the night before and heat up. We are meat eaters so I havent got any specific suggestions for a vegan/vegetarian but I’m sure it could work. There are cook books about that suggestion good batch cooking meals. It often works out cheaper too as you can buy in bulk.
Post # 4
I grew up in a vegetarian household with a working mother and a father who’s culinary skills ventured little past fried eggs.
She did a lot of big meals with leftovers to freeze. A lasagna, soups, vegetarian chili. As well something I do now is have plain cooked grains on hand, farro, lentils, brown rice etc. Then mix in some grilled or raw veggies and herbs so the same grain base can be a few different meals.
Slow cookers are great too. When I prep a meal ill get ingredients for two then ill chop and measue everything but put ingredients for one meal in a freezer bag and just save it for another day.
Post # 5
I don’t have children, so have significantly more time on my hands; however, I second the batch cooking suggestion! Work out how to freeze everything. I make double of most meals to put in the freezer. If I’m chopping veggies, I do double for the freezer. I cook double rice or quinoa and freeze. You’re cooking anyway, so it doesn’t take much more time. Just make sure to keep stock of what you have, or you’ll spend forever stocking and never use anything!
Also, I find meal planning essential! I spend half an hour or so doing my meal plan and grocery list for the week. It’s great to get home and know what you’re cooking and that you have the ingredients. If you’re really ambitious, could do a plan for the month! There are heaps of blogs by busy mums with ideas.
To keep meals more diverse, I make stuff that can be repurposed into another type of meal. For example, I’ll make a lentil veggie curry thing to serve over rice and then I’ll use the leftovers the following week to make little pies by baking in a ramekin with with mashed sweet potato and parmesan on top.
Post # 6
My kids are both in activities and we are on the go a lot. We eat a lot of breakfast for dinner (my daughter loves omlettes). I also keep lots of fresh fruit handy. My daughter loves salads, so I keep that with tomatoes and peppers on hand. My son loves yogurt, so he eats that and peanut butter apples for dinner a lot. I try to cook on the weekends and have leftovers, but during the week, I am not above something super simple, as long as it’s healthy!
Post # 7
I have a set of about 10 super nutritous, quick (less than 20 minutes to prepare) meals that I use on the weekdays. I pretty much rotate those out in my weekly meal plan. That also includes crockpot meals of the dump a whole bunch of stuff in there, set it, and it’s ready to eat at 6:30 variety. It took me awhile to get into a good groove with dinner.
Post # 8
I don’t have kids, but my husband works insane hours, so I am responsible for basically all of the cooking. When we used to eat meat, the slowcooker was my best friend. I haaaatteeee cooking a long meal after working all day. Now that we eat most vegetarian, I actually find meal cooking times to be much shorter.
I usually spend one of my lunch breaks at work planning my meals for the following week. I try to plan them so I am using similar ingredients to cut down on costs. This might help you bc maybe you can spend time prepping ingredients to use multiple days. I search the internet for easy vegetarian recipes and then write them down in a binder if we liked them.
Easiest meal to make? Portobello burgers. Take the stem off, brush on some olive oil, stick them in the oven at 350, put some vegan cheese on top towards the end of them being done, slap it on a bun (I also like to add avocado and veganaise) and done!
Post # 9
I have way more free time than you, but I also love the crockpot. Toss some beans/broth/veggies/spices in to a slow cooker and when you get home from work, you’re greeted with a lovely smell and a hot meal.
My other favourite is frozen, pre-chopped vegetables. No washing, peeling, chopping, cleaning! You can throw it in to stirfrys, pastas, slow cookers, soups.
Post # 10
GingerBaby: Care to share some or all of those recipes here?
I’m struggling with this very same thing! I get home from work around 5:30, and DD is in bed around 7/7:30, so there’s precious little time to prepare a whole meal. I’m kind of burning out on chicken and my limited crock pot repetoire. I do rice & veggies with baked or sauteed chicken, or I’ll cook a big casserole or meat loaf after she’s in bed to munch on during the week. I’ve done more grilled cheese & pbj sandwiches than I should, but I always pair it with steamed veggies and/or fruit, but still… I need to start doing better!
Post # 11
This is all very helpful thank you! I think I just need to sit down and plan and cook to freeze! I love the specific recipe suggestions.
Post # 12
GingerBaby: Yeah, share ’em! And PS- I heart hounds! I have 2.
Post # 13
You can also use a multi layered steamer. Marinate chicken, beef, pork etc in a ziploc bag while you are at work. If you plan ahead you can throw the meat in ziploc bags with the marande right after you grocery shop, then throw the bags in the freezer. I do ours in individual portions so I take out just the amount I need.
Throw the meat in the steamer, set the timer, you are free to do other things till it’s time to add the vegetables. If you like a starch with your meals you can do some rice, or “bake” a potato in the microwave. I normally do a salad instead.
Dinner is ready in the time it takes to cook the meat- 15-25 minutes depending on the cut.
I prefer this over crockpots etc because the dinner is healthier cooked without sauces and simmering in fat. All of the steamer items can be fed to the baby.
Post # 14
I am a working wife (not a mom presently), and I was just thinking about this question while I was cooking dinner last night! I have a very long commute, a demanding career, and am stubbornly determined to keep my running schedule intact, so I really don’t know how I’d manage if there were children in the picture. Kuddos to all of you who are juggling things sucessfully; I’m impressed!
Post # 15
Commenting to follow. My husband and I both work 10 hour days (minimum) with an hour commute each way. We also have a baby on the way so I know things are only going to get harder. I used to use the crock pot a lot, but being preganant I am living off goldfish and potatos and haven’t made dinner in awhile haha. My SIL and her MIL use a pressure cooker. Same idea as a slow cooker, but it doesn’t have to sit all day. Think I might look into that soon!