I have two hungry boys who seem to eat all the time, so I have found some time savers/organizational things that have helped me.
The crock pot is your new best friend. Throw in meat, veggies, some spices and liquid and viola! A hot meal when you get home. (You can even put the meat in frozen if it can stay in the pot all day). Browse Spark Recipes (salsa chicken is GREAT!)
I have been buying large pieces of meat, like a pork loin, and portioning before I put it in the freezer. I'll cut some into pork chops and freeze enough for one meal in a single package. I'll cube some up and put on a marinade or dry rub and stick it in the freezer. It really infuses the meat with flavor!
When I make pasta I always make enough for several meals. You can freeze dinner sized portions of pasta in ziplock bags, then simply reheat the pasta when you're ready to use it.
Eggs are always easy and quick as are soups, sandwiches and salads.
I NEVER cook a separate meal for my boys, they can eat what I have prepared or make their own bowl of cereal. Rarely do they do that - usually there is something that they like.
Good luck in the "what's for dinner" battle!
Fitness Minutes: (35,151)
563 3/24/13 10:33 A
When I am making my shopping list I always make sure I have easy to throw together meals the kids like. I am lucky in that my kids and husband are easy to please.
I can relate to the completely wiped out. I do all the menu planning ideas, and usually have leftovers or something to fall back on but tonight is a friday in lent so the left over meatloaf wont work. I had planned to cook scallops in wine sauce but really just want to drink the wine. What I would like is for someone besides me make a health dinner that fits the picky eater criteria, pleases all five of them and fits into my calorie range for the evening.
Fitness Minutes: (17,637)
858 3/5/13 10:19 P
I've been trying to be a better "planner", but it seems I'm always out of at least one ingredient to make any particular recipe. I can always throw together a stir-fry, no matter what veggies and protein are in the fridge or freezer. Bean/cheese burritos are another go-to when I haven't been to the store in a while. I try to keep pasta/sauce in the pantry. Frozen steamer bags of veggies and canned fruit or no-sugar added applesauce will always fill my kids up in a pinch. I hate to rely on PB&J, because they always request that at lunch time.
Fitness Minutes: (18,504)
825 3/1/13 9:57 A
some nights are really hectic here. i had planned for leftovers, the other day, but my twelve year old ate them for a snack the previous night and finished them after school the next day. (he eats non stop) by the time i realized there were no leftovers, it was 5:30. so the kids had a salad, peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sliced apples for dinner.
I always try to make sure I make enough to have leftovers. I have 3 hungry boys and my other half who could eat a cow. When I feel good enough I start making dinners and freezing them so I don't always have to spend my time in the kitchen.
We plan out our meals and snacks for the whole week on Sundays and then do our grocery shopping right afterwards. It takes the guess work out of the situation, and if we know we have a busy night coming up, we plan a slow cooker meal or a 30-minute meal.
I've sped up the process of meal planning by marking all our favourite recipes in our cookbooks with post-it notes, so I don't have to flip through tons of pages to find what I am looking for when I am making the grocery list. I also keep a file folder of recipes torn out of magazines and printed of the Internet to go to for inspiration when I want to try something new.
And if your kids are old enough, when they ask, "What's for dinner?", you can look at your menu posted on the fridge and say, "Such and such is for dinner, so why don't you help me get it ready by ...."
I suppose it depends on what you have and how little you want to do.
I often freeze leftovers- enough for another meal- so in an emergency I can pull something out and reheat it with very little effort. Soup freezes and reheats very well. Pasta or eggs are a fast cooking meal. Bean and cheese burritos are also quick if you already have refried beans and tortillas.
Everyone making their own sandwich, salad, eating a bowl of cereal or someone else providing dinner works on some tough days.
ETA- I also do meal planning every week and post the list on the refrigerator so I am rarely taken by surprise with what to have for dinner. Sometimes days do come though where things I don't expect like illness make me not want to cook what I planned and having those emergency backup alternatives like soup in the freezer is very helpful.
Edited by: LOUNMOUN at: 12/5/2012 (15:13)
Fitness Minutes: (7,174)
112 12/4/12 9:39 A
I'm with Lynn. I make 2 lage meals with leftovers on Sundays then I'll do a crock pot meal Wednesday night while we are sleeping. I rarely cook 'on demand', especially during the week.
Sometimes on the weekend I'll make really large batch items like sloppy joe, chili, or 'hot pockets' and freeze them. Take them out the morning you plan on eating them.
I started a new idea and it really seems to help the 5:30, you're just getting home from work, what's for dinner and rush to do HW. I prepare all my dinners (the main course only) on Sunday's for the week.
HAHAHA!!! So...whatcha got? Have you broused sparkrecipes? I find that if I enter my main protein, it's easier to find something to make with it, and it inspires. It really does. Tonight, it was crap. A pizza that the s/o got from 7/11. I had two slices. I just did NOT feel like cooking.
Fitness Minutes: (16,853)
420 12/1/12 5:26 P
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