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Ideas for busy nights



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NANNYGRAM26
SparkPoints: (555)
Fitness Minutes: (455)
Posts: 17
9/24/11 10:19 A

My plan for the weekend is to do prep work for the week. Prepare greens and put in container w/paper towel so I can grab for a quick salads. Grill some red and green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and broccoli and use during the week...tossed in a salad, over pasta, etc. Grill some boneless chicken breasts, cut up and use for quick meals or over salad. Make a pot of soup or chili, use for a meal and put the rest by individual servings in containers in fridge or freezer. Hard boil some eggs. I get bored with the same lunches over and over for work so this gives me lots of options and helps with dinner too.



QUABBIN
SparkPoints: (7,365)
Fitness Minutes: (1,827)
Posts: 49
9/21/11 5:53 P

What I have is not a recipe but a strategy for you: cook something fast (like scrambled eggs, toast and fruit or whole-wheat pasta, a jar of sauce and frozen peas), and then put her to bed, and have your husband stay home and you can take your time grocery shopping. It's much less crowded at a grocery store at 9 PM!



NONA-UK
Posts: 243
9/20/11 11:59 A

I've started cooking ahead where possible. I get home late (usually around 7-8pm and then by the time I've cooked it's quite late). So I do batches of stuff a couple of times a week, this not only saves time but also means I'm filling up my oven each time for example, which is 'green' and good economy too. It's not really much more work while you are already out there cooking, especially if you basically do two portions of the same thing.

So on Sunday night I cooked garlic roast chicken and made a beef casserole.
Monday We had the chicken again with pasta yesterday. Took me 10 minutes to make.
Tuesday we are having the casserole tonight.(a lot of dishes taste better a day or two after making as well, all the flavours mix and develop).
Wednesday - tomorrow I'm going to do salmon, which DOESN'T keep of course, but also I'm going to bung some pork loin chops in the oven to cook while I'm just chilling out after dinner.
Thurs - half the pork loins as they are with potatoes and veg
Friday - don't know yet
Saturday - the other half of the pork loins turned into a curry (just chop them up and bung in sauce for 10 minutes while rice boils).

So I'm only really cooking 2 nights a week
1) chicken and beef casserole
2) salmon and pork loins

The other nights I'm putting ready cooked meat into a sauce with something quick like pasta or rice. 10 minutes tops.

And then whatever I do Friday of course, might go out.

You could do this once a week if you want, on Mondays, so you cook 2 meals then to include Tuesdays. I don't always do this but I know I'm working late this week a lot. Most weeks I'll at least do it for the one night I don't get home till gone 9pm. Frankly if you are bunging one dish of meat into the oven it's no harder to bung two in.

Jacket potatoes - love these but they've got to be crunchy skinned, and I've finally found a quick way to cook them. My OH likes them all soft (yuk) so now I microwave them all and serve his up straight away while mine gets a couple of oil sprays and some salt, and goes under a really hot grill. Turned over after 5 minutes. another 5 minutes and you'd think it had been oven baked for a couple of hours, delicious!

Edited by: NONA-UK at: 9/20/2011 (12:04)


RRJAMISON
SparkPoints: (1,405)
Fitness Minutes: (645)
Posts: 32
4/28/11 11:40 A

Use a George Foreman Grill. You can put frozen steaks, chicken, etc and it will be done in least than 20 minutes. While that is cooking, you can make a salad, vegetable, noodles, rice, etc. That way dinner is ready in under 30 minutes and is fresh.



LOVE_JONES
SparkPoints: (467)
Fitness Minutes: (240)
Posts: 4
4/28/11 9:34 A

We like to make homemade pizzas, but by cutting some corners. We use the ready-made wheat pizza crust and they come in a large pie size or individual sizes. Choose your choice of spagetti sauce, chop up fresh veggies, add turkey or chicken breast, a little bit of shredded cheese and pop it in the oven for 13 minutes on 425 degrees. It's super simple and quick.

I'm a mother of a two year old and I'm able to pre-heat the oven, feed him, and whip up our individualized pizzas at the same time. Try it.



THISYEARSMODEL
Posts: 3,292
4/27/11 12:58 P

The biggest thing is, I never grocery shop and cook on the same night.

On the weekend, roast a variety of vegetables, make spaghetti sauce, roast a chicken, etc. Then you have things in the fridge that just need reheating or minimal prep.

My standard quick weeknight dinner from scratch: grilled chicken or steak (made on my cast iron grill pan) and 2 different veggies, which are either microwaved, steamed, or sauteed. From preheating to plate =25-30 minutes.


Edited by: THISYEARSMODEL at: 4/27/2011 (13:00)


HEALTHYJ29
SparkPoints: (3,246)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 1,307
4/26/11 9:59 A

Boboli make a whole wheat pizza crust and so do Whole Foods and similar. Top with veggie,cheese,sauce,even some grilled chicken strips. Serve with a salad and healthy dressing.
Turkey burgers on whole grain bun. You can microwave sweet potatoes or make them into fries
Breakfast for dinner



HONEYBEEBUZ
SparkPoints: (10,646)
Fitness Minutes: (3,494)
Posts: 384
4/25/11 10:51 P

I cut up 3 chicken breasts, I added some onion and olive oil just enough to keep the chicken from sticking. I added some carrot's too, after everything was cooked I melted half a pack of nonfat cream cheese in a pan of chicken pieces, and a little nonfat milk ..seasoning.. it was lightly creamy and it served 4.



CM3540
Posts: 8
4/18/11 11:53 P

A couple ideas -- first what if you put a frozen roast in a crock pot, it should be cooked fine when you return since it started out frozen. Or, what about using a timer to start the power to the crock pot, like a timer i use on my indoor christmas tree lights. Or, use the oven that can be set for a delayed time. Rotisserie chicken meals are great with a green salad for you and hubby and a nuked potato for your daughter. You could have chef salad made up in the fridge, a grilled chicken salad, omelets can be so very healthy. All my advice is making me kick myself!! I will follow my advice, lol.



MY3NTHEPUNKIN
Posts: 418
4/17/11 9:56 P

Crockpot meals are the way to go!



RUBYTWOSDAY
Posts: 197
4/17/11 3:40 P

When my kids were young and headed out to Guides or Cadets I found that a popular quick supper was always breakfast - bacon, eggs, homefries and toast. Put together in less than 15 minutes and wolfed down in seconds.



LORIENABANANA
Posts: 2,139
4/14/11 5:21 P

slow cooker pork (recipe on sparkrecipes) is a favorite at our house - I make a big batch over the weekend so I get two meals.

We also BBQ extra meat (usually pork, chicken, or flank steak) over the weekend so I can make 1-2 meals out of that.

Sometimes, I add frozen stir fry veggies to it and serve over rice.
Other times, I add it to a big green salad. Chicken is especially good this way. We like to add a little feta chese, too.



ASPENC
SparkPoints: (7,566)
Fitness Minutes: (6,536)
Posts: 53
4/10/11 9:17 A

Good advice from an older mom that has adult children and friends stopping by....
Do this now to be the house that all the kids come to. However, now find it good for those nights that are crazy.

Make ahead.... meatballs (ie. pork, turkey, sirloin) and sauce. Freeze separately.
Worked last night again as I got home late from a basketball game with one son and high school son ended up having 5 boys over to play outside. Guess who fed them homemade sauce and meatballs? All I did was throw in noodles, make a salad and heated up bread going stale spread with butter and garlic ....



TEEINHB
SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (6,963)
Posts: 100
4/10/11 12:10 A

Wednesday night is like that for me, I coach 5-6 year old boys basketball. I do "make ahead" dinners such as Chicken Enchiladas, chicken noodle soup and freeze them. Then Tuesday night I put them in the fridge to unthaw for Wednesday night, just heat and eat. When I''m in a pinch I make grill cheese or chicken quesadilla, they are quick and easy. Hope this helps



SUNRISE14
Posts: 5,216
4/9/11 5:06 P

I fix a batch of mash potatoes and divid it into servings enough for DH and i . Thaw it out before the meal put it on a saucer and microwave taste like just made ! I do gravy that way to ! emoticon



REDOLENE
Posts: 79
4/9/11 3:31 P

Some things reheat better than others of course, and a good steak is hard to reproduce after it's initial fresh-cooked goodness. Ways to make this work better for you are to find recipes that do freeze well (meats in sauces like stroganoff, chili, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joe, meatloaf, turkey with gravy, etc) tend to do better than dry meats. And they reuse better if you can let them thaw in the fridge throughout the day (even on the counter for the afternoon), or, if you are crimped for time even more, use the defrost settings on your microwave, not high heat, and it will do much better for you. These are things that work really well for me, and I hope they help you too. :)



LOSING100SLOWLY
SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (70)
Posts: 141
4/9/11 1:41 P

Reheated steak actually works? Whenever I put meat in the microwave it comes out tasting funny or with a weird texture.

Last night was another horrible disaster. I had thawed out some chicken, but we were out shopping later than I planned (and my daughter had a potty accident) so we didn't get ready for dinner until about 7:00 PM - and she needed a bath (because of the accident!) and bedtime is 8:00.

I couldn't think of any chicken recipe that would be ready fast enough.

So we nuked crap out of the freezer.

I would have picked up a rotisserie chicken but she had the accident before we got to the store that has them. I couldn't just make her walk through a store with wet pants on to buy a chicken.

An no, I don't carry pants in the car anymore. The girl is 5-1/2 years old!!!!!!!!!




REDOLENE
Posts: 79
4/9/11 11:05 A

There are lots of "make ahead" type recipes available that reheat well. Everything from Enchiladas, to spaghetti, to hamburger steaks, to chicken and fish dishes. I like to grill extra burgers/steaks/chickens, when we are grilling dinner, then I put some of the extra in the fridge for the next couple days, and freeze the rest for another week.
I also buy rotisserie chickens, cut it up, eat some on the spot, refrigerate some, and freeze some. This works with so many things. My family eats a lot of ground beef, so we often buy it in 3-5 pound batches (stores often have discounts on some that are about at their sell-by date in large portions like this). I bring it home and brown it all (so there's no chance of it going bad), and then I use some in dinner, leave some in the fridge for quick sloppy joes, salad topping, or pasta addition, and freeze the rest in about 1 lb batches. Since it's already cooked, it's super easy later to thaw a pound of browned ground and put it in almost anything.



ASPENC
SparkPoints: (7,566)
Fitness Minutes: (6,536)
Posts: 53
4/8/11 9:54 A

thanks for the baked beans in crock pot recipe! I will use it this week



TAMMYOKAHARA
Posts: 404
4/8/11 5:20 A

I cook most of my meat on Saturday or Sunday. This way all I have to do is make salad, veggies, or what sides I need. If you are grilling just add a couple more chicken breasts and hamburgers, or even veggies. You can do lots with grilled meat and veggies.



OOOOOOPSY_DAISY
SparkPoints: (347)
Fitness Minutes: (140)
Posts: 25
4/7/11 3:38 A

Put a Ham in the crock pot on warm with some liquid in the bottom (make a glaze brown sugar with orange soda made into a paste smear the ham) and it will not burn. Remember Ham is already re-cooked. Then you have left overs for breakfast, salads and supper another day. All kids love ham. You can usually find the shank portion hams at Kroger or Meijer for $0.99 a pound near any holiday. Mothers Day is coming up, so I'll stock up for my family.

Also the juice that is left over in the crock pot, the brown sugar mixture, I soak northern white beans over night right in the crock pot after the ham is removed. I add a bit more brown sugar, water and a dab or 2 of horseradish and let them cook on low until done. Will take most of the day but what wonderful baked beans for the next nights meal. I won 2 state fairs with this baked bean recipe.



ELIZABETH_SKY
Posts: 442
4/6/11 2:54 P

A couple times a week on my busier days I just have a chicken breast and some brown rice. You can gussy it up with cottage cheese, fresh basil, salsa/pico de gallo, honey mustard, a dash of orange/lime/lemon in the pan, barbeque sauce, or whatever you like. It's a little spartan, but you do get used to it. Cooking a couple juicy breasts and some rice takes less than 15 minutes.

I also agree with preparing things ahead. Usually 3 days a week I have to prepare lunch and dinner for two people the night before. You figure out pretty quickly what reheats well and what doesn't. Usually it takes me about half an hour to prepare all four meals, and I do it while making dinner the day before. These meals are usually more involved than chicken breast/rice. I often have fajitas, chile, sandwiches with whole grain bread, pasta dishes with lots of veggies, large salads for lunch, and things like that. If you want a longer list or details on how to make something, send me a sparkmail and I'll see what I can brainstorm up



LOSING100SLOWLY
SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (70)
Posts: 141
4/6/11 1:37 P

Well, it's not just the cooking time, but I have yet to find anything cooked in a crock pot that my child will actually eat. I think it's because it never looks very appetizing.



ASPENC
SparkPoints: (7,566)
Fitness Minutes: (6,536)
Posts: 53
4/6/11 1:32 P

Don't totally rule out crock pot meals. Just make sure the recipe will not be compromised with "extra" or alot of liquid. I leave it in for 10-12 hours.

Other options, cook the meat half way and leave on warm for 10-12 hours rather than cooking for the full 10-12 hours.

Other option, have a good friend/neighbor/family who you do not mind going in your house mid day and turn crockpot on.

It does get much easier and habit forming. I use crockpot at least once a week if not twice.



ANIKAJAC
SparkPoints: (34,746)
Fitness Minutes: (19,855)
Posts: 2,615
4/6/11 9:33 A

That is what I was going to suggest cooking something in advance so you can just warm it up.

Maybe a good pot of soup or a whole wheat noodle dish that just needs a side salad or something quick to put on the side like steam veggies



GAMECOX
Posts: 153
4/5/11 2:19 P

You are not alone! Coaching son's and daughter's soccer, daughter's swimming and dance, school, yada yada yada... it keeps us on the go, but usually as in my past, resulted in unhealthy eating- such as McDonald's, BK, you name it.

I now do my best to plan ahead. Tuesday night and Wednesday night are my most hectic. On Monday I cook TWO meals. One is immediately put into containers for Tuesday night. (Usually something like chicken stew, or shrimp creole. Fairly easy sauces, that I just have to prepare rice or noodles with a simple salad on Tuesday night.

Weds. is usually something like picking up a chicken or making this with the chicken- recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?
recipe=1525837


It's hard, especially at first, but it soon becomes habit forming.



LOSING100SLOWLY
SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (70)
Posts: 141
4/5/11 1:48 P

Tonight, we won't be home until about 6:45 PM. I will be going grocery shopping, and my husband & daughter will be at gymnastics until 6:30, then drive home.

Her bedtime is 8:00, and she needs a bath.

I run into this every week on Tuesdays, yet I still haven't figured out a good solution. There are similar nights like this too, like last night I had an appointment that I took my daughter with me, and we didn't get home until about 7:00.

Crock-pot meals don't work because I leave for work at 7:15 AM and I have yet to find a recipe that will cook for 12 hours without burning everything beyond recognition.

I plan to pick up a grocery store rotisserie chicken tonight, but often they are out of them. And they probably aren't the safest things in the world, considering how long they sit under a heat lamp.

Got any healthy ideas?



 
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