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I work earlier hours so I'm usually home by 4. I try to have us eating by 6 or 6:30.
Mom of 2 feisty boys and 1 busy business --Tmuffin--where we help moms connect through birth, babywearing, play, and parenthood.
We get home at 5:30 and usually are eating by 6-6:15 but I am kind of a rabid meal planner.
I can outline how I do in general principle it but it's not for everyone.
I do one meal a week in the crockpot (usually wed or thurs), but I agree it can get tiring if you are always doing stews or pot roasts or BBQ whatever. I do something like a soup one week, a chili one week, a bean dish one week, and a stew or pot roast the next week. I've been collecting good recipes for a while. Pea soup, chickpea stew, 'baked' beans, potato-cheddar soup, white or red chili, rosemary red wine stew are pretty much my go-to list.
With the soups we have hummus and flat bread or cheese toast or savoury biscuits, and salad and raw vegetables. I prepare all those in advance. We pretty much have a platter of raw veggies at every meal, or a salad.
In fact I wash and cut up all our veggies on the weekend, more or less, so that they are easy to cook quickly. I wash the lettuce and spinach and kale too.
On the weekend I usually in the cooler seasons load up the oven with some casseroles (cassoulet, pasta al forno, quiche, tortilla casserole, etc.) and then reheat them when I get home. I plan them so that we eat them earlier in the week to prevent spoilage. Any prep I can save is a good thing. In the summer I make a big pasta, bean/grain or rice salad, and just grill meat or veggie skewers on the side.
We also have stir fries and again, I do the prep either on the weekend or the night before so all I have to do is walk in, heat up the pan, and start cooking. Marinating any meat or tofu makes it yummier anyway. If we're doing stir-fried rice I cook the rice the night before too (during dinner usually).
I use leftovers, either as a mixed leftover night (a la The Incredibles) or as components for other meals - like chili from the crockpot gets used as a baked potato topping. That kind of thing.
One night a week we usually have fish and veggies and either whole grain buns, or if I have time, a quicker-cooking side dish like orzo and peas. Fish bakes up really quickly in the toaster oven.
So a week would look pretty much like -
Saturday night - something that requires prep time right then so we're not bored ; prep all veggies
Sunday night - a roast chicken with roasted vegetables and polenta, + a bean cassoulet and a quiche cooked in the same oven.
Monday night - quiche and salad and steamed veggies
Tuesday night - cassoulet and grilled polenta (from Sun) and green beans
Wed night - leftovers + fresh breadmaker bread
Thurs night - pea soup from crockpot + veggies + hummus and pita
Fri night - fish and orzo and veggies or leftovers if there are still some and we're not bored
Katie - Married to Mike 06/02/01, Mom to Sydney Anne born 11/21/09 and Alice Maeryn & Oliver Thomas born 04/24/13
I hate cooking too! We eat around 5, but sometimes it's really nice when DS starts cooking and it's nearly ready when DS and I walk in the door. DH works at home, so if he's not too busy he's able to start dinner. And believe me, DS (19 months) is the one who's starving when he comes home, so dinner needs to be ready fast. He gets very cranky and clingy if you don't feed him fast enough. It's so hard to cook one handed.
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