How do you get dinner made? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 25 Old 11-19-2009, 07:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a 3 yo DD and 6 month old DS and need help figuring out how to get dinner made. I have to make it before DH is home from work or we are eating too late. I have been letting DD watch a DVD while I make it and DS plays in his exersaucer. That works okay, but now DD is dropping her nap and I want to let her watch a DVD after lunch because that is the only way for her to get any quiet/rest/sitting still time. I don't want to have her watching a DVD twice a day, so I need a new idea for keeping her busy during dinner time. Sometimes she'll help me a little, but often doesn't want to or I need to do things that she can't really help with because they involve sharp knives or the hot stove. Any ideas?
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#2 of 25 Old 11-19-2009, 07:38 PM
 
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Our DD is a two, so she's a little younger than yours, but I let her play at the sink, if dvd's won't work & if she's not sleeping. She "washes" dishes & generally makes a soggy mess, but it keeps her occupied & happy while I'm cooking.

Me, my Sweetie , DD 1 (Dec 07),  and DD 2 (Dec 09). Co-sleeping, delayed-vaxing, quia Lutherans!
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#3 of 25 Old 11-19-2009, 08:00 PM
 
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You should cook with a crock pot! Prep everything the night before, then throw it in the crock pot in the morning and it will be done by dinnertime.

I also sometimes let DS play Playdoh at the kitchen table while I'm cooking, or I have him stand on a stool at the kitchen island and watch me prep things while I talk to him like I'm on a cooking show, LOL. We watch a lot of Food Network together and he has a thing for Rachael Ray!

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#4 of 25 Old 11-19-2009, 08:10 PM
 
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DS is almost 4, but he's always played with kitchen stuff way more than his toys. I frequently have to perform recon missions into his room to retrieve kitchen utensils. LOL

It's always helpful to have them playing near you when doing something like dinner, provided they're not near the stove, sharp knives, etc.

Here are some things I let DS do:

-play in the sink (funnels, seives, droppers, measuring cups, etc. are great fun)

-sit on the counter near me and play with flour (doesn't seem like much but entertains the heck out of him-it's messy but worth it, I usually leave it there all day so he can play again later, he uses spoons, measuring cups, etc.)

-play with the kitchen aid mixer (I let him turn it on without implements attached, he loves to make it noisy-soft and watch the little arm spin around fast)

-play with the pasta maker (it's a simple, sturdy manual pasta roller/spaghetti maker-I give him homemade dough and he goes to town on it)


DS has even dragged his animals and blankets into the pantry and played on the floor and thought that was great-like his own den.

Maybe you could build a hasty 'fort' under the dining room table, just throw a sheet over it and she can play under there.

loving a small homestead with DH and DS (12/2005) keeping it natural, frugal and back to basics :
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#5 of 25 Old 11-19-2009, 08:18 PM
 
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The crockpot. Loooove the crockpot almost as much as I love my husband and kids. I own 4 of them I usually put something together while my 14 mo naps in the a.m.

There is a great thread for crockpot recipes in the nutrition forum:
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=237665

Wife to a great DH, SAHM to 3 great kids
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#6 of 25 Old 11-19-2009, 11:31 PM
 
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When my kidlets were that age, I used to do a combination of the following:

-Start making dinner at breakfast time. Decide what to make, start defrosting something if necessary, start dicing onions, etc. Continue prep at lunch so very little remains to be done in the evening. My kids tend to need more attention as the day passes, not so much when they are fresh in the morning.

-Wear the baby on my side or back while doing non-hot cooking prep (making sure she is out of reach of any sharp implements I'm using)

-The sink-play is very effective! I put down a large towel, stand a chair on it, and turn the water on to a dribble, giving them non-breakables to wash.

-My kids also go through phases of loving craft projects. Sometimes a large piece of paper and some markers at the table provide plenty of entertainment to finish dinner.
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#7 of 25 Old 11-20-2009, 01:55 AM
 
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I have a five month-old. I cook a lot on Sundays for the entire week and freeze it or assemble the ingredients in a dish so I can just pop the dish in the oven and keep that in the fridge. DH hangs out with my baybay so I can do that. Also, I do a ton of crockpot meals. There is a website that has 365 days of crock pot meals! Then I freeze the leftovers and make double.

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#8 of 25 Old 11-20-2009, 11:38 AM
 
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Originally Posted by pearl2 View Post
There is a website that has 365 days of crock pot meals!
Some of the recipes on her site are fantastic! Just google "a year of slow cooking".

I second the crock pot solution as well, you can cook almost anything in it! Also, cooking large batches of meals you know keep/freeze well works great, it's like making 2 (or more) meals at once, then you just have to re-heat.

loving a small homestead with DH and DS (12/2005) keeping it natural, frugal and back to basics :
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#9 of 25 Old 11-20-2009, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the great ideas! I really should use my crockpot more. I'll check out the recipe links. Starting with prep in the morning is a great idea, too. That probably would work because mine also need less attention in the a.m. We used to do more counter/sink play, but now that I have two, there's such a huge pile of dirty dishes on the counter by dinner time that there isn't any room! I guess getting the dishes done is another topic . . .
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#10 of 25 Old 11-20-2009, 01:43 PM
 
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A couple things that help me:

Simple meals. If it's fancy, it's a weekend meal.

Prep ahead of time. I try to brown/freeze ground beef, grill chicken, etc. on weekends so I can just dump it into whatever recipe.

Make throughout the day. I might make the pasta in the am, the sauce at lunch, and throw it together quickly before dinner.

Crockpot. I use mine a lot. We might not eat dinner somedays without it.

A supportive military wife and mama to my busy boy and sweet girl.
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#11 of 25 Old 11-20-2009, 01:58 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaddieMay View Post
A couple things that help me:

Simple meals. If it's fancy, it's a weekend meal.

Prep ahead of time. I try to brown/freeze ground beef, grill chicken, etc. on weekends so I can just dump it into whatever recipe.

Make throughout the day. I might make the pasta in the am, the sauce at lunch, and throw it together quickly before dinner.

Crockpot. I use mine a lot. We might not eat dinner somedays without it.
Stole my post.
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#12 of 25 Old 11-20-2009, 06:16 PM
 
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This is a good question. Thanks for the thread. I am always curious how other people get dinner made. I can see how it will get more complicated with 2. Ds has just entered the stage where he will play with pots and pans while I make stuff so that has taken some of my pressure off. I have been doing a combo of

1. quick recipes. prep stuff throughout the day and make it quick at the end.
2. cooking when he goes to bed and freezing.
3. slowcooker
4. making a bunch at a time and freezing it. especially soups and chilis.
5. i also stand by the super quick meals...grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, omlets, hotdogs. i try to supplement these things with my frozen soups.
6. lately i have been getting into roasting things. i never realized how little hands on time it takes to roast a whole chicken or a big old piece of pork. plus then we eat it for days or freeze chicken to use for a quick meal later.

I love Cook's Country recipes. They had one issue that was all make ahead meals...from freezer casseroles and lasagnas to crock pot meals. Very good stuff. We adore the freezer chicken and rice casserole. There is a Cook's make ahead cookbook. I'm getting it for xmas. I hope.

i love this topic. can't wait to see what more say. i'm off to check out that crockpot website.

I have boys! My first baby boy was born 10/08 and my second baby boy was born 7/12

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#13 of 25 Old 11-22-2009, 02:07 AM
 
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I start earlier in the day, decide what to make, defrost, brown ground beef, chop veggies, whatever needs to be done.

I have three, so I *try* to do this when baby is down for morning/early afternoon nap.

By 2 or 3 PM most days (when dh works days) I have either a casserole to throw in the oven about 45 mins before we actually want to eat, or I have everything so all I have to do is maybe 20 mins. prep time at dinner. Like a big pot of rice already done on the stove and everything chopped so I can throw oil in a pan and stir fry it. Or quick warm tortillas and reheat taco meat (or make a pan of it quick) and get all the fixins on the table. I literally get *everything* I possibly can ready ahead of time.

I use my crockpot a lot too, if we have something to do in the afternoon espeically and I'm not sure we'll be back say an hour before he gets home to throw something in the oven.

lovin DH since 1/04, SAHM to 3 boys 10/04, 11/08, 11/10 one girlie (1/07), and one 13 wk (10/13) just your average :ha ng multigenerational living family!!
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#14 of 25 Old 11-22-2009, 02:19 AM
 
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Crockpot. I'm gone most evenings with after school activities and by the time we get home, I have children that want to eat dinner right then. I don't cook every day either. Most of my meals make enough for two dinners and on the weekends I make bigger, more involved meals that carry over to the weekdays.

There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.
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#15 of 25 Old 11-23-2009, 11:30 PM
 
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I had an epiphany recently, and so far, my plan is absolutely brilliant. Yeah, I plan meals, keep things in the freezer, crockpot, etc., but the solution was staring me in the face the entire time...

I don't cook dinner anymore unless necessary. I cook for lunch, and heat up for dinner for husband. The exception is the rare thing that does not heat or reheat. My stress over the hot meal (or cold) on the table thing has gone way down, and my kid doesn't have to wait or get full on a small snack. Even cooking a late lunch was too stressful, because I am just exhausted by 3-4pm, and she rarely naps any more. So I gave up on dinner. Good luck.
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#16 of 25 Old 11-23-2009, 11:38 PM
 
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I agree with other posters -- start in the AM or the night before. I usually two big meals a week -- roasted chicken or pork shoulder, shredded beef bbq, or something like that. The other meals are smaller things like grilled cheese, quesadillas (with leftover chicken), spag and sauce, chicken pesto pasta (frozen pesto from the summer.)

Then for lunches we have leftovers or sandwiches, usually.
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#17 of 25 Old 11-24-2009, 09:50 AM
 
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[QUOTE=buckeye_bebe;14714756]I had an epiphany recently, and so far, my plan is absolutely brilliant. Yeah, I plan meals, keep things in the freezer, crockpot, etc., but the solution was staring me in the face the entire time...

I don't cook dinner anymore unless necessary. I cook for lunch, and heat up for dinner for husband.



this is absolutely fantastic - why have i never thought of this before!!!! I'm going to do it starting tomorrow - thank you so much

sahm mama to dd1 08/08/06 and dd2 27/11/07.. dreaming of her own smallholding one day...
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#18 of 25 Old 11-24-2009, 10:27 AM
 
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We do the big meal at lunch a lot too as DH comes home for lunch almost everyday. Especially if I know DH is going to be working late that night we'll eat a big meal at lunch. Things tend to go haywire here late afternoons/early evenings, so if DH isn't home to help then I don't have to worry about cooking and can just grab something (leftovers, sandwich, etc.) and he eats when he gets home.

A supportive military wife and mama to my busy boy and sweet girl.
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#19 of 25 Old 11-30-2009, 03:15 AM
 
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I start waaay early. Or at least I begin washing, chopping, or whatevering early. We are usually home in the afternoon, so it's possible. I used to wear my ds and let the older ones play in the kitchen with me. I keep meaning to crock pot though....
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#20 of 25 Old 11-30-2009, 07:50 PM
 
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I do as much prep work as I can while making lunch. So I'll often cut things and peel things and put them back in the fridge. Then I can slowly actually make the supper as the afternoon progresses. DD often plays happily after lunch for awhile, so I'll even cook then too on a good day and reheat later.
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#21 of 25 Old 11-30-2009, 08:33 PM
 
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I do the majority of my cooking during the week in a crock pot. Otherwise I make very simple meals. We eat more time consuming meals on the weekend when there are 2 parents handy.

Mama to Kelsey born at 35w6d on 11-05-04 & Troy born at 33w6d on 10-03-09
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#22 of 25 Old 11-30-2009, 11:26 PM
 
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There's a lot of good suggestions here. I'm a big fan of my slow cooker, especially now that winter's here. Perfect for soups, stews, any kind of meat/gravy dish. Whenever you have DH around to watch the kids for a couple hours, take advantage to get some meal prep done for the upcoming week's worth of meals. Slice and dice veggies and put them in resealable bags in the crisper so they're ready to go. Brown/cook up large batches of meat and put them into meal sized portions and freeze them. Feed your freezer... make a double or triple batch of a casserole/soup/sauce and freeze the extras so all you have to do is thaw it and reheat.

Also, if you meal plan, maybe revamp it a bit? I do breakfast for supper once/week because most breakfast dishes are quick and easy. I also have one night where we have the same thing every week... Saturday nights are homemade pizza night here... so I can do a bunch of prep one week (make a large batch of sauce, shred up a large block of mozza and freeze what I don't use) to ease up the prep work for the next couple weeks.

Also, enlist your 3YO's help in the kitchen! She's perfect for tearing up lettuce for salads, mixing together ingredients, helping shape hamburger patties/meatballs. My 4YO DD is quite the little helper in the kitchen. I don't know what I'm going to do without her help next year when she's in kinder!

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#23 of 25 Old 12-04-2009, 10:56 PM
 
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Sounds like I need a crock pot.

Dinners are so stressful for me

 Wife of 10 yrs to Oaties, Mama to Bubs 08/06/08, Rizie 04/19/10 & MRae 02/02/13 & to dog2.gif

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#24 of 25 Old 12-04-2009, 11:38 PM
 
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Definitely a crock pot!

Also, we try to eat kind of European style - the girls and I having a bigger meal midday and then doing something light for dinner. At least 3 or 4 days a week we have light dinners - tonight we had homemade veggie soup, with a fruit/cheese/cracker tray. Something like soup or chili you can make one night and then eat at least one more night as well.

Sarah - mommy to Sophie (4) and Nora (1)
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#25 of 25 Old 12-06-2009, 03:59 PM
 
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I agree with using a crock pot. You could also start the meals early in the day and work on it throughout the day and re-heat it all when time to sit down and eat dinner. I freeze meats and beans and that makes it easy to set them out the morning we are to have them for dinner and they are thawed by the evening. You could also wait until weekends when your DH is home to make dishes/casseroles and freeze them for the upcoming week.

Proud *single* mom to 3 amazing kiddos
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