How do you feed your children in the evening when they are busy?(28 Posts)
DD1 (9) swims several times a week, either at 6pm or 7pm. DD2 (8) also does a couple of gym classes and we often have other things on after school too. DH is never home at a regular time so I don't plan to feed him in the evening and we've never had a regular sit down evening meal. DD1 has just said that she doesn't want to eat a proper meal before she swims (not that I usually do "proper" meals at 5pm) and I am bit lost as to what to give them. They need something when they get in, enough to give them energy for a few hours of activity, and it is often late when we have finished, a bit late for cooking food. It doesn't help that I don't enjoy making food at all, and that DD1 is overweight and DD2 is a bit too skinny so they have different intake requirements!
Please could you tell me how you do food in the evenings for busy children? Thanks.
What about light meals? Soup and bread or something on toast. A pasta salad made the day before is brilliant if we need to get out of the house quickly. I agree with her the full means aren't great when you are going to exercise. I would have something light as above and then a bowl of cereal/porridge and fruit before bed.
Thanks for the reply. Yes, I could fill the freezer up with soup and pasta salads are a good idea. It probably needs to be a mug of soup with toast fingers or something at 4 when they get home from school and then a bowl of yoghurt and fruit or similar before bed. I've always had DD1 on packed lunches because of worrying about her weight, but if they both had school dinners they'd have their one hot meal at lunchtime and then I could keep the evening food fairly light.
we have stuff 3 nights a week. I usually put roast dinners in the oven with jacket potatoes on a timer (electric oven) for the time we get home so I only have to get it out and serve it. some days we get vegetables with it if time otherwise I tend to do salad in advance. so that is the main meal sorted. when they get in from school if it is a night we will be home by 6:15ish then they will have breadsticks/crackers/biscuits in fairly large quantities before we go out, they will burn off any calories and are skinny so I don't have to worry about what they eat in that sense. if it is a night home at 7:30 then we would try to fit in a sandwich or toast etc before we leave. Mine are 7 and 8.
we have to leave the house to go out at 3:30 so it is far too early to eat before dancing other than snacks really but if they went out later then I would probably look at pasta or rice based early tea. don't rule out things like baked beans on toast, cheese on toast. as long as it isn't their main meal every evening then it is fine and it would fill them up.
Bananas are good.
I don't have this problem with dd any more as she finishes at 6pm but something like a sandwich & a banana would keep her going. Or maybe chicken salad.
Hot dog/bacon butty wrapped in tinfoil to keep it hot is the popular one for our family.
My ds has late nights 3 days a week, and he couldn't eat before.
He doesn't like snacky food for dinner, so he has normal meal even it's quite late.
I normally make pasta sauce, curry, stew etc when I have time and freeze them, and heat up while cooking rice, pasta etc.
Dd eats bananas and peanut butter sandwiches and flapjacks in the car before training, then she usually has cold pasta pesto with cold chicken when we get home. I cook every night for everyone else.
We do a few different things depending on whether I am home that afternoon (if child's activity is nearby I can just drop and come home), or whether I need to wait for DC at the activity so I need to do something quickly as we get home at 5.45 or so and all are hungry.
On a Sunday I usually cook enough for 2 evening meals - e.g. spag bol, a roast, lasagne, casserole, curry, roast, chunky soup or whatever and we have leftovers the following night that can be reheated quickly once we get home from the activity with hungry children. So that's Sunday and Monday sorted.
I cook 'properly' x 2 again of a Thurs as I have more time that afternoon, albeit we all eat it early before the activity, and then we have the leftovers reheated on the Fri when we all get back at 5.45.
So that just leaves Tues and Wed to cover. (Sat H is home and no evening activities so all is good).
On nights where we get back late and I still need to make a meal from scratch, I do something quick - e.g. salmon, broccoli, peas and noodles. Takes 15 mins once the oven has warmed up so it's quite fast. Or baked other type of fish, chopped up home made 'chips' (i.e. just normal potatoes in small slices) plus veg is quite quick-ish.
I also have an emergency quick meal in mind at all times in case the toddler doesn't nap and is clingy and we are all tired and hungry and can't wait long. One go to meal is gnocchi and a jar of sauce plus grated cheese (literally 5 mins from start of heating water to serving on the plate). Not ideal maybe for some people with processed sauce and gnocchi but it works, is warm and filling and everyone likes it. The gnocci is long life so keeps in the fridge for several weeks waiting for a meal 'emergency', and it's cheap, quick and filling. I tend to add extra veg into the jar of sauce e.g. grated carrots, mushrooms, courgettes etc.
For the after school activities which are physical ones and require feeding the child before the activity, I do a early light tea for the exercising child (ie 1/2 to 2/3 of the portion that they'd usually eat so they aren't too full when exercising), then they eat part 2 of their tea portion plus some yogurt and fruit/pudding when they get home at 8pm. Also, I sometimes do a small serve of beans on toast or egg on toast if DC needs feeding pre activity if the main meal isn't ready yet.
DD is out exercising from 4 to 8pm 3x per week after school.
I tend to give her a fairly healthy snack e.g. peanut butter sandwich or crackers/cheese and fruit before she goes. Maybe a croissant. Occasionally it would be pasta or similar as she is so hungry/tired/cold and needs a proper filling meal. Generally lunch is always sandwiches Not much chance to snack while she is training.
When she gets home she has dinner that everyone else has had, re-heated in the microwave. Not always ideal depending on the meal, but good enough!
She easily burns enough calories during training to effectively eat 2 x dinner!
My DC are slightly older (10, 12 and 14) but my week goes like this:
Monday: DD Brownies, DS1 piano lesson
Tuesday: DD Orchestra
Wednesday: DS2 Drama Club, DD Choir
Thursday: DD Hockey, DD and DS1 Football (at different times)
Friday: DS1 Rugby, DS2 Orchestra, DD Hockey
Both DH and I work FT.
They have something like fruit toast or a toasted bagel when they get in from school. They also make themselves a smoothie - I keep frozen banana, berries and mango in the freezer which they just add milk to and whizz in the smoothie maker.
I make batches of bolognese, curry, tagine, chilli, casserole etc and freeze them. These are good for really busy nights, which tend to be Thursday and Friday so late in the week when everyone is tired too. If I'm not using those I make a lot of baked dishes - tuna pasta bake, oven baked paella, sausage and bean casserole etc which just need a bit of attention in the beginning and then just sit in the oven for an hour while I go and collect a child. I also use the slow cooker.
We usually eat around 7-7:30 and 99% of the time all five of us sit down to eat together.
Thanks so much. I need to get back on to the batch cooking for the freezer that I used to do. Love the frozen fruit idea, we also do smoothies quite often but the prep can be a pain.
Dd trains 4 nights a week from 4 till 8 and has a cooked school lunch then a pack up tea in the car on her way from school to training. Usually sandwiches, wraps etc - I then go in 5 minutes or so before the end of training and heat her a proper dinner up to eat on the way home (50 min drive)
I bought loads of the freezer tubs and I just pot her up whatever we are having for supper when she's not here then freeze it and she chooses what she wants in the morning before school.
I do insist she has a banana as part of her pack up too!
My dd used to have a picnic tea or a takeway on a tray on her lap in the car on the way to dance, and then usually some fruit or a cereal bar on the way home afterwards.
I make my son energy balls - blend dates, nuts,seeds, peanut butter, oats, tiny bits of chocolate, roll into balls and dip in cocoa. My kid loves them and one or two balls give him enough energy to get through swimming without filling his tummy too much.
I use the slow cooker in winter for busy evenings. Just chuck lots of veg, meat or chicken in and leave on low all day or in a timer, then it's ready to go when you get back. You can also make up a few slow cooker meal packs for the freezer so all the prep is done and you've got a meal ready to go.
I'm still trying to figure this out, but a quickish meal to cook when we are in at 3.40 and out at 5.10 for swimming is a stir fry. Bag of stir fry veg plus sauce plus chicken already chopped up thinly, and rice from the rice cooker. DP is a shift worker so is either starving by 5pm because he's finished at 2pm or finishes at 8pm and is happy with it heated up.
Dairylea cheese and crackers is a filling snack to keep DS going.
We have similar late acitvites and different times and use the slow cooker here too. Then everyone can eat at a time that suits them. Bolognaise, curry, risotto etc. But we also eat things like filled pastam, stir fry and various fish that is quick to cook
I usually do soup + sandwich + pudding on busy evenings. The courses can be spread out over the evening if necessary but all main food groups and appetite sizes are covered. I have sometimes taken sausages etc. In a food flask and served them up in the car.
Some great suggestions here. My DD always eats packed lunch at school so likes something different in the evening. I sometimes buy in ready to bake frozen cheese pasties and veg spring rolls to be eaten on the go. There's no meat in there so I don't worry about them being kept lukewarm in foil for a bit. Not particularly healthy choices but once a week is ok for her.
Mine both have activities every afternoon/evening. I work three days, on those days we have stir fry (using pre packaged stir fry veg and sauce ) or quesadillas or pasta. Days I don't work I make something during the day and warm it up later eg curry, soup etc.
Sometimes DD will have dippy eggs or beans on toast but DS is trickier and seems to need MEAT.
Could you make slow cooker meals? Then it means dh could help himself when he's home too?
my girl eats a really good quality and large school dinner every day but comes out of school ready to eat immediately, so she quite often has her tea in the car on the way to various activities rather than snacking, then has a light toast/cereal type supper after if she's hungry again before bed. I routinely batch cook and take a food thermos so sometimes she can have a hot meal after school
I put all mine on hot meals at school which helps as I don't stress so much about a 'main' meal in the evening. Soups are in the freezer in portion sizes, bolognese sauces also which I often do with a part baked roll rather than pasta. Lentil casserole which is thick and warning but not heavy like meat would be.
Slow cooker is a godsend when we're not all going to be in at the same time but will be in before it gets too late to eat
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