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I don't get it? How do you find time to cook?

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
I have a one year old daughter and a 9 year old daughter and I just don't seem to be able to get organized enough to cook proper dinners and we end up ordering in a lot and eating out a lot. I keep trying to meal plan and it always falls through. I grocery shop but usually waste some food. I wish I enjoyed cooking but I really dislike it. Any advice?
post #2 of 38
I'm a single mom and I work full-time, so I can appreciate your time crunch. What works for us is that I shop and cook on Sunday. I usually make 2 or 3 entrees (1 in the crockpot--a busy mom's best friend), and 2 or 3 veggie dishes. I keep rice and pasta on hand and a crisper drawer full of fruit. It takes me about 10 minutes to get a yummy and healthy dinner on the table.

I'd be too overwhelmed to try to plan and shop and cook for a month. Plus, weekly shopping helps you incorporate the sale items.
post #3 of 38
I have written down some of our favorite staple meals on index cards with the main ingredients listed on the back. Each week I get my cards and pick 7 meals and then flip them over and write out my list. I then have the list of meal choices on the fridge and I start thinking about it in the morning. If I can get things prepped before 3pm then it works out. If I procrastinate and try to get dinner ready in the evening I always fail. I have to be thinking about which dinner I am going to cook early in the day so I can work up to getting it done.

Obviously you can tell this is not a strong suit of mine and I have to really work on it. Luckly my dh will cook dinner if I don't get it done. I do wish I was better at it but having a system does help me accomplish it most of the time.

Wendi
post #4 of 38
If I am feeling particularly tired and in pain, I make a supper of boxed macaroni & "cheez" and hot dogs. :

Normally, I have a repertoire of quick and simple meals that require less than 20 minutes in the kitchen.
post #5 of 38
I work outside the home full time and have a two year old so I too completely appreciate your situation. We eat out way too much and I too am struggling to get on track with healthy home cooked meals. I would love to meal plan but I just can't seem to do it--I get all excited and determined to do it...and then sit there staring at my blank menu with no ideas for what to make. And we throw out a lot of unused food due to spur of the moment takeout. :

What works for me since I seem to be constitutionally unable to really meal-plan: I prep as many ingredients as I can, whenever I have the extra time. For example if I'm chopping an onion, I chop as many as I can stand and freeze them for use later. Same with peppers. I find if I don't have to all the grunt work like chopping I'm more likely to cook dinner.

I buy two-packs of whole organic chickens weekly at Costco and roast them in the crockpot, then shred the meat and keep it in the fridge or freezer for tacos, enchiladas, casseroles, salads, etc. That way when I get home and open the fridge in despair (oh no what will we have for dinner??), there are some basics upon which to build a meal. I have a programmable rice cooker that I use constantly. In the morning I can throw in some brown rice or quinoa or whatever looks good and voila, when we get home we have a grain ready to eat.
post #6 of 38
Meal planning. I woh ft as well and its a lifesaver for me. All the weeknight meals are fast and simple and things I know we like. Weekends I spend a lot of time making waffles or pancakes for the freezer, salads for the week, more involved meals, prepping veggies.

I have a list of stuff we like and plan from that. I save new recipes to try on weekends when I have more time. And I got my 2 year old interested in cooking so he's always right beside me on a chair "helping"
post #7 of 38
I always want to do the meal planning/cook alot on the weekends thing, but I haven't managed it yet. I too, WOHM, and so does Mr Toona. Seems like we spend the whole weekend running around trying to do the maintenance stuff - laundry, grocery shopping, errand running, mowing the lawn, trying to keep up with dishes, and the occassional desperate attempt to sleep in.

I'm thinking Im' going to start using the crockpot as a way to double cook (cook for future while I'm cooking for that evening) on the weekends to have something prepared in advance. But we shall see how that one goes. heh.
post #8 of 38
I have to be organized or it just doesn't work for me. My days are very busy too, I have a 10 month old and a two year old. I also watch a almost 2 year old, a two year old and a three year old from 7 to 5 every day and a 5 and 6 year old before and after school. I plan my meals out two weeks in advance. I make a lot of the same stuff over and over again. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen on the weekends prepping stuff while dh plays with our two. I have to plan the whole day out too nut just what we are eating, that way I have my cooking time planned in. It has taken me a while to get where I am, baby steps. Good luck!
post #9 of 38
I started small, and built up to cooking and enjoying cooking... It started in college with spaghetti and lasagna and tacos and american chili. And otherwise eating out a TON. And then when I became a SAHM it kind of blossomed and I realized that I LIKED cooking. But mostly, for me, its about cooking food that *I* like - thinking of stuff that I like to eat, that I order out at restaruants and then trying to re-create it at home. Trying to make it as good (or better) than in the restaruant. And mostly I've succeded - I now cook traditional mexican food like my mom/grandma, italian, indian, stir fry's, lots of stuff with beans and what not... but mostly just cook what I like. So just, cook what YOU like. Not what your DH or your kids like. What YOU like. Honestly, they'll eat it
post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by llamalluv View Post
Normally, I have a repertoire of quick and simple meals that require less than 20 minutes in the kitchen.
Oooh, can you provide a list, please? :
post #11 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by rosie29 View Post
Oooh, can you provide a list, please? :
yes, please do!
post #12 of 38
The crock pot is your best friend. This is a great site with lots of good ideas! I use it to meal plan, frequently.
Otherwise, I write down menus for 10 days at a time, and shop specifically for that. You can google weekly menus or something similar, or cruise this forum. It's all in the planning--give yourself an hour and you won't regret it. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
post #13 of 38
I meal plan before I grocery shop. I know what is for dinner tomorrow already and the meat is thawing in the fridge. I plan for dinner to be ready at about the same time every day and tend to all the possible distractions that I can before I start cooking. I make it a point to cook every night because if we ordered in or went out for dinner all the time we would not have enough food money to last the entire month.
My favorite recipes are Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals. She uses good ingredients and most of the meals are fabulous and kid-friendly. I plan a crockpot meal once a week to give myself a bit of a break from real cooking and my husband will cook dinner once a week. It's really not so bad once you get in the habit of it.
post #14 of 38
We use the crock pot a lot. And I mean a *lot*. We will go and buy 2 weeks to a month worth of recipes (which really isn't that much since we tend to get 2 dinners out of each recipe). Then we chop up all the veggies we'll need to cook with, freeze them if needed (otherwise some of the stuff will go bad before it's used), then cook 2-3 meals at a time w/multiple crockpots going, and freeze everything. That way it's all ready to go and all I have to do in the morning is pull out a bag and throw it in (w/out the bag of course LOL).
Or sometimes we won't precook, but at least everything that's needed (beans, produce, etc) is ready for the crock pot and I just have to add seasoning, water, etc.
It's also soooo much cheaper this way.
post #15 of 38
on mondays during dd's nap, I plan out a week's worth of dinners, so I know what I'm cooking each night. I do this by going through anything that we have in the fridge that needs to be used up soon and then looking up recipes online that use those things. Then when she wakes up we go shopping for all the ingredients needed for the week.
I try to prep things as much as possible throughout the day, and then Dh watches dd while I take 30-60 minutes to cook dinner every night. We just started this a few weeks ago, and it seems to be working very well. We're having healthy, homemade dinners and saving money. And I'm actually really enjoying cooking now. It's a nice break from dd while dh gets to spend some time with her.
post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by rosie29 View Post
Oooh, can you provide a list, please? :
Sure. Most of these rely heavily on convenience foods, and could be really terrible for you if that's all you ate (high in sodium, fat, etc).

Ground beef stroganoff -

1 lb ground beef (or turkey)
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, diced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 packet brown gravy mix
1 cup water
Sour cream (or plain yogurt)
Noodles or rice, cooked

Brown meat with mushrooms and onions. Drain.

Mix in soup, gravy mix, and water. Cook until thickened (about 5 minutes).

Serve over noodles or rice, and top with sour cream.



Tuna Noodle Casserole
1 can tuna, drained
1 can cream of celery soup (or mushroom)
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
4 cups cooked egg noodles
1/2 cup cheddar, shredded
1 cup frozen peas (or mixed peas and carrots)
1/4 c bread crumbs
2 T parmesean

Butter casserole dish. Spread noodles in evenly. In separate bowl, mix tuna, soup, sour cream, cheese, and peas. Pour evenly over noodles. Top with bread crumbs and permesean. Bake for 25 minutes (or until crumbs brown and casserole "bubbles").


Cheesy tuna mac

1 box macaroni and cheese, prepared
1 can tuna, drained
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 c cheddar, shredded

Prepare mac & cheese to package directions. Add remaining ingredients. Heat through until cheese melts.


Sometimes I just cook chicken breasts in the crockpot all day with salsa, or stewed tomatoes, or even just some seasoning and a little water (i.e. lemon pepper) and then nuke a vegetable (squash, green beans, etc), reheat some rice or butter bread, and call it supper. :yawning:
post #17 of 38
Honestly? We meal plan once a week and we make v. v. simple things. Unless my DH has an urge and the time to cook something complicated (he's a chef at heart), one of us will make something easy that has a lot of leftovers we can eat for lunch and then dinner the next day. And we keep things around that can be made even more simply in an exhaustion emergency.

So this past week, DH threw a ham in the oven with some little potatoes and canned green beans on the stove. We ate that for two suppers and then had ham and cheese sandwiches for a week, plus we used the ham bone in the crock pot for split pea soup (just had to chop an onion for that) which lasted a few days with toast. We also made breakfast casserole with some of the ham (refrigerator biscuits in the bottom of a casserole dish, egg/cheese/veggie/meat poured over, bake) and that was breakfast for most of the week, with cereal or oatmeal or refrigerator cinnamon rolls as other options. To break up the ham monotony, lol, we had bean burritos which were just tortillas heated in the microwave, black beans heated on the stove and toppings (salsa, sour cream, and cheese). Oh, this time Dh did make rice and threw in some salsa and a can of corn but they'd be good anyway. OTOH, when he had to work late, I made : DS lunch of spaghetti-o's with canned peas in them, and a supper of crescent rolls filled with ham/cheese and cream cheese/jam. (what can I say, I'm a child of the 70's
post #18 of 38
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post #19 of 38
:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaEli View Post
The crock pot is your best friend. This is a great site with lots of good ideas! I use it to meal plan, frequently.
Otherwise, I write down menus for 10 days at a time, and shop specifically for that. You can google weekly menus or something similar, or cruise this forum. It's all in the planning--give yourself an hour and you won't regret it. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
Whoa, this is a cool site. Thanks for posting!!!

Thanks for starting this thread, OP. I'm just coming out of the same kind of funk you were in. I hope some of these suggestions have helped you. I know they'll help me!
post #20 of 38
For us, meal planning is essential. I sit down once a week and plan our meals for the week. This is also when I create a grocery list. A lot of times I'll cook dinner when the baby is napping (which can be anywhere from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.) so I can cook dinner without distraction. Then I'll just warm it in the oven when my husband comes home. I try to start early and prepare the meal throughout the day - for example, 11:00 am I might start chopping veggies, and then later I'll prep the meat when my son is eating happily in his high chair in the kitchen later in the day...I just find meal preparation with young children a lot less stressful that way! Crock-pots are also great, and making extra portions of meals when you have the free time and freezing them is also another great option.
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