to wonder how working parents feed their families?(116 Posts)
Just interested in what others do really.
I went back to work in April and since then have really struggled with evening meals. My DC are 1 and 3 and by the time we get home at 5:30 they are very tired and hungry. It's a case of drop bags and make food. DH and I are starting to reach for the same old meals which aren't as fresh and nutritionally balanced as we would like (think pasta and pesto, egg and beans or grabbing chips on the way home from work, etc).
We like to sit down and eat with them as we've all been out of the house since around 7am and it's the only bit of time we get with them until bedtime routine at about 7 (and yes I do feel hugely guilty but that's another story!)
The main problems are having to feed them as soon as we get home and not having a bank of quick, tasty and healthy meals. How do other working parents manage with such young DC? I welcome any advice, recipes and tips for how you have smooth meal times on work days!
Batch cook at the weekend and freeze then in the morning just take out to defrost.
I batch cook spag bol, lasagne, cottage pie and meatballs in sauce.
Slow cooker, or bulk cook and freezing in portions.
If I don't have a meal planner, I do exactly as you mentioned with the beans and toast. I have an A3 planner now with meals marked out on it. It makes shopping easier too.
I think it's also a bit of training yourself and pushing through the 5pm exhaustion.
At one and three, haven't they already had food by then? Mine have nursery meal at about 4 ish, then a little supper and milk when they get home.
I've always made more than one meal so if I'm making a cottage pie, spaghetti Bol, lasagna, stew, curry whatever I make a batch and freeze portions then get them out so all I have to do is a bit of pasta or rice. If you get the potions out before work and put pasta on as soon as you get in you can be feeding the kids by 6.15pm.
Slow cooker and bath cooking on an evening and weekend, we also make fresh bread everyday before we go bed and cook in the morning or evening for lunch boxes etc...
Soup and pasta for lunches are also fab.
Frozen fish is also good, with couscous and steamed veg.
Cooked chicken, is fab also you can pretty much do anything with it, we had today cesar salad with fresh bread.
Tomorrow for the rest we are having chicken and prawn stir fry (prawn for dh and ds1)
It really is about planing your meals.
A slow cooker and batch cooking are your friends here. Make spag Bol at the weekend make four lots of sauce freeze three, shepherds pie, lasagne, curry, stew etc.
Then quick cook pasta left over chicken from the toast, some chopped bacon, bought tomato sauce padded out with tinned Tomatos.
Ha ha crossed post all with the same ideas.
Meal planning, batch cooking, slow cooker. You need to invest a bit of time to start off with, but it's worth it.
I try to introduce a new recipe every few weeks, because it's very easy to get stuck in a rut with the same menus.
Do your DC go to nursery while you work? I only ask because mine do, and our nursery will give them a (packed) tea, so when I pick them up and get home about 5ish, I don't have to mess about trying to make tea quickly, then spending the rest of the evening tidying up then getting them to bed.
It was getting quite stressful and actually meant we spent less quality time together of an evening. Now, we get home, have time to play or go to the park. We eat together at the weekend (it's overrated anyway, when you have a messy 2yo!), but we get to enjoy the weekday evenings without stressing about feeding hungry pre-schoolers. We just eat when they are in bed.
I batch cook and freeze on days off or use slow cooker.
We eat super simpler easy to make food;
Salmon, new potatoes, salad; stir fry veg & noodles; baked sausage, mash & peas; ham, new potatoes, steamed veg, parsley sauce; pasta in a quick tomato or cheese sauce.
All take between 20-30 minutes.
DH is in first so he does all the cooking and he's a terrible cook, so he just has a rotation of simple stuff with the occasional breaded fish, chips & peas chucked in.
I tend to work 6am to 6pm so the nanny does all meals apart from when I'm not working
DD1 has a hot lunch at school and DD2 has a hot lunch at nursery. If they are in childcare later than 4pm they get a light 'tea' (sandwiches or similar) so I would give them egg or beans on toast on those days. I also make double when I do bolognese, lasagne or fish pie and freeze a couple of portions for the kids. We always have 'treat tea' one night a week - fishfingers, potato waffles and spaghetti usually, sometimes pizza or chicken nuggets. On a Friday the inlaws have DD2 all day and pick up DD1 from school and they give them dinner before bringing them home, so DH and I normally have something that the kids don't like once they are in bed! Fridays are bliss.
Some weeks when our DCs were that age, instead of bothering to batch cooking we would cook properly for ourselves for later on- one of us would cook for us while the other was doing bath time etc (spag Bol, casserole, stir fry etc) and we would eat once they were in bed and keep 2 portions in fridge to re-heat and serve with fresh rice or pasta for the DCs the next evening, so they would eat meals a day behind us, that way it's v quick when they are starving but spreads the cooking out through the week a bit.
My 2 have dinner with the CM - I pick them up at 6 and then we are home for 6.15.
We plan all meals a week in advance and shop accordingly so everything is in. It makes all the difference. Some prep work can be done the night before if recipe slightly more complex. I love cooking though.
Another vote for the slow cooker. You add anything in there and by the time you arrive home, stew is ready. And its nutritionally good; veggies, potatoes, some tomato sauce, meat or not.
Also, slow cooker does a beautiful roast chicken. Nothing but oil and spices/herbs. It falls off the bones.
I also slow bake potatoes on mine. Throw them in the morning, timer plug on by the time we arrive at 7pm, perfect baked potatoes.
Batch cooking and also twice as many portions. I cook double quantities, we either freeze it or if it's something tasty we eat it twice in a row exp: chilli can be eaten with rice and salad one day or in wraps with avocado and chopped tomato as 'burrito'.
Also, if you haven't done any of the above a quick omelette is great. Throw some veggies and you have a nutritious meal.
If you can't be bothered to chop your own, frozen veggies are great.
Dh works night's so makes dinner for when I get in.
Snack, normally fruit and milk when we get home then a full meal around 7. That way there is no rush on.
Thank you all so much for your replies!
I think I definitely need to start batch cooking by the sounds of it. The problem is that we do plan meals but on tired and rushed evenings they tend to fall by the wayside for quicker things. I think I need to be stricter on myself to follow through with the planned meals (pure tiredness/laziness on my part).
DC3 is in a school nursery where a hot school dinner is available but my DC1 goes to a birth to 5 nursery and has to take packed lunch and no 'tea' is offered (snacks/drinks are). So I figured if I've got to make a packed lunch and provide a hot meal anyway for one I may as well do it with both. I could provide a packed tea for my littlest but then would still need to cook for my eldest anyway. If that makes sense!
I think slow cooker/batch cooking will be the way to go. Was thinking of getting Jamie's 15 minute meals to get some fresh ideas!
The 15 minute meals was rubbish IMO, although I did love the 30 minute version. For really quick, tasty meals you could try Joe Wicks lean in 15, although this is essentially part of a weight loss plan so not sure how appropriate it would be for children. Mine have enjoyed many meals from it though.
I meal plan ruthlessly. Batch cook on weekends. And then on Tuesday when DC in bed I cook again and freeze. When I come home I just heat the food up and then once dinner is done, a quick 15 min break and we start the bedtime routine. Then once DC in bed if I am not cooking then we clean/wash/do laundry/iron for another ruthless 30-40 mins. That way when we wake up in the morning we can just get dressed and go. Also keeping the house clean and doing chores and cooking daily means that on the weekends, in the day time, we can just totally chill out.
DS is with GPs 2 days a week so has dinner there. On his 2 nursery days DH and I travel home separately despite working near each other as 1 collects DS from nursery and the other goes straight home to start his dinner.
Quick options are quiche, salmon flakes (ready to eat), chicken mini fillets, omelette, macaroni, soup, sausages. We get home about 545/6 and bedtime is 7 so DH and I eat after DS is in bed.
We have Jamie's 15 min meals but even these recipes need planning with ingredients. I use the book but I plan ahead. They are great but it takes me longer than 15mins because of lack of fast chopping skills and actually having to read the recipe. I'd say I can do them in 30-40 mins.
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