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After school/work meals for 5 need to be ready in 20mins-ish

(45 Posts)
Wishiwasrunning2 Sat 27-Jan-18 19:09:45


I'm totally stuck in a rut! We all arrive home from school and work about 6.10pm (4 days a week) and I need some easy meals to cook that they will eat and are healthy.

I'm currently cobbling together snacky teas for 3dc (3,6,9) like beans on toast, chicken nuggets, hot dog and chips, pesto pasta. But I know they veg intake is not what it should be. I then cook another meal for DH and myself once the kids are in bed. I'm exhausted and don't want to cook two meals.

My problem is time and slightly fussy eaters as they're used to the junk food. DH and I love all food (apart from pork for DH bacon and sausages are fine). We also love spice which the kids won't eat. My eldest is the fussiest but I'm well used to adapting separating her meal so it's acceptable.

Can anyone help? Just after some ideas. I'm used to meal planning and happy to cook.

OP’s posts: |
MrsWobble3 Sat 27-Jan-18 19:18:14

Do you have time to prep in the morning or night before? If so then there are a lot of pasta bakes, pies, tray bakes etc that might work. If you put the oven on immediately you get in (before taking coats off) etc and can stretch to half an hour then I think you should find your options vastly increased.

KitKat1985 Sat 27-Jan-18 19:19:35

Could you try for the next 4 nights:
1) Stir fried chicken, noodles and stir fried veg (literally just cook all in a wok and add some sauce).
2) Some sort of chops (lamb maybe since you DH doesn't like pork) / beef steak with boiled potatoes and broccoli and peas. Then if you cook a bit extra broccoli and peas you can do....
3) Pesto pasta with broccoli and peas from yesterday mixed in, and grated cheese on top?
4) Fajita wraps (just fry some chicken and chopped veg with some spices (depending on kids tolerance) and serve with wraps and guacamole / salsa.

All of which take about 20 minutes approx.

Orangedaisy Sat 27-Jan-18 19:22:33 is amazing. And you can put anything in it.

MotherFeeder Sat 27-Jan-18 19:29:57

Get yourself an Instant Pot when they're back in stock, and either batch cook or cook a day in advance. There's even a 4min beef which people rave about. It's a complete life and timesaver and you'll have delicious meals in no time

NapQueen Sat 27-Jan-18 19:31:24

Does their after school care have a food option? Even if chargeable, it would be worth it.

worriedaboutchristmas Sat 27-Jan-18 19:42:02

Will they eat fish?

This is lovely and super fast

Or stir fries?



pastas?- Carbonara, broccoli and anchovy, mushroom and thyme, puttanesca, etc etc

Wishiwasrunning2 Sat 27-Jan-18 19:57:11

Thank you this is exactly what I need. Tasty, easy recipes. Some of these the kids love too they just fallen off the list in my exhausted haze.

Yes have a slow cooker, tray bakes sound good, I'm often the first one up so could prep in the morning. I just needed a little inspiration.

After school club do feed them but about 4.30 so they're hungry again when they get in. Also if it's soup or one of the eleventy billion things she doesn't like... dd will not eat it.

Need to train up DH too, but he is in agreement that we should do anything that make our life easier.

Do you think we should stick to the same menu for a few weeks till we settle into the routine, then we could swap one a week (I get bored easily). I'm keen to simplify this as much as possible.

OP’s posts: |
Wishiwasrunning2 Sat 27-Jan-18 19:58:05

30mins is totally doable.

I'm thinking they could be bathing /pyjamas while I prepare meal? Two eldest could just about cope with that.

OP’s posts: |
travailtotravel Sat 27-Jan-18 19:58:59

The only way I can do it is to get batch cooking. Tomato sauce with hidden veg for Bolognese or even soup. Other soup stuff. Pre chop a load of veg. Then it's more bish bash bosh than a struggle. If I haven't prepped stuff we veer towards eating badly.

Wishiwasrunning2 Sat 27-Jan-18 20:09:30

Meal plan so far...

Stir fry chicken noodles and veg.

Minute steak, potatoes and veg

Spaghetti and lentil bolognese (from freezer, we just had it tonight)

Chicken fajitas, peppers, baby corn, wraps, guacamole

OP’s posts: |
endofthelinefinally Sat 27-Jan-18 20:10:18

Slow cooker casseroles. Makes life so much easier. I used to make so many different recipes. You just have to add potatoes/rice/pasta. Everything can be frozen.
Never cook just one dish in your oven.
Shepherds pie and lasagne can be cooked together and frozen in portions.
You can do a beef stew in the slow cooker and a big pot if bolognaise sauce on the stove at the same time. It doesnt take much longer to prepare all the veg for both.
I make a chicken casserole that has butterbeans and potatoes in it, so you just scoop it into bowls.
Fruit for pudding.

endofthelinefinally Sat 27-Jan-18 20:12:13

Dont cook two different meals!
Everbody should eat the same. So much easier.

FoofFighter Sat 27-Jan-18 20:19:12

Cook extra for your and oh meals in the evening, and then serve to children the next day?

brownelephant Sat 27-Jan-18 20:19:59

when do you have time to prep?
batch cooking at the weekend?

frozen veg are your friends, a handfull of sweetcorn or peas added to anything will up the veg intake.
frozen chopped onion are a time saver.

if you have time after dinner you or your dh can chop some peppers/carrots etc. for meals or snacks the next day.

Wishiwasrunning2 Sat 27-Jan-18 20:23:34

Yes have time to prep first thing in morning and when kids are in bed, esp if I'm only cooking one meal.

OP’s posts: |
Wishiwasrunning2 Sat 27-Jan-18 20:24:20

What the chicken casserole with butter Beans? (I love butter beans!)

OP’s posts: |
Wishiwasrunning2 Sat 27-Jan-18 20:25:01

Kids are averse to frozen veg apart from peas and sweet corn. Somehow they can tell hmm

OP’s posts: |
endofthelinefinally Sat 27-Jan-18 20:34:44

It is a french recipe.
I am very much a "throw it all in cook" so I dont weigh and measure, but this is what I do.
Fry chicken thighs( bone in for better flavour) in a little olive oil with salt, pepper and garlic.
Chuck into slow cooker.
Put sliced carrots, onions and mushrooms into the frying pan, fry for a few minutes then turn the heat down and put the lid on. Meanwhile add a can of tomatoes and a can of butterbeans to the slow cooker. Add a chicken stock cube. Put the veg in and add some herbs and a glug of dry sherry or white wine.
Chuck in a few herbs if you like.
Let it cook in the slow cooker until chicken is tender. (You can add a little water if the fluid level looks too low). You can reduce the stock at the end.
You can add some small potatoes to save cooking them separately.
Serve with frozen peas if you want something green on the plate.

maddiemookins16mum Sun 28-Jan-18 07:38:19

This takes about 25 minutes, it's one of our go to quick meals. DD finishes it all off for when me and DH get home from work.

Chicken drumsticks - I make a marinade type thing of, 2 heaped teaspoons of Chinese 5 spice powder, 2 tablespoons of runny honey, tablespoon of ketchup and tablespoon of soy sauce. Mix it together in small bowl and marinade my drumsticks in it, leave in fridge (although in the depth of winter I just leave them in the (very chilly) utility room. do this in the morning.

On getting in, bung the oven on to 190. Stick in oven for approx 25 mins.

I then microwave egg fried rice and combine that with some cooked frozen sweetcorn, peas and broccoli.

It's really quick and yummy.

sashh Sun 28-Jan-18 10:35:37


There has been recent slow cooker recipe thread, search that out.

Do you have a steamer?

Put potatoes and veg in one section, then in another you can put chicken or fish in foil parcels, this means you can do individual parcels, yours might be chicken in chili and lemon your child's might just be fish with salt and pepper.

Most things can be cooked this way in 20 mins.

Wishiwasrunning2 Sun 28-Jan-18 10:48:45

Thanks those recipes are great we'll be trying all of these over the next few weeks.

Feeling far less stressed about meals this week, thank you for your help smile

OP’s posts: |
AtleastitsnotMonday Sun 28-Jan-18 18:28:53

I made a really quick tuna pasta make. Put pasta on to boil. In a frying pan quickly fry off a handful of frozen red onion, a clove of garlic and a diced pepper. Add a can of chopped toms, some mixed herbs and a good splash of balsamic vinegar, a can of tuna and sweetcorn. Mix with pasta and tip into an oven dish. Grate over cheese and put in the oven until cheese is melted.
Look at turning one meal into another. Eg Spag Bol one day, add chilli beans and a bit more chilli and serve with rice the next day.
Of if you do a chilli day one, spread on wraps with cheese and serve as quaesidilla the next.
A sheet of ready rolled puff topped with mozerella and sliced tomatoes with black pepper is super quick
Fritata (added bonus of using up any random leftovers in the fridge.)
Another fave of mine is cod fillets marinated in a mix of natural yoghurt and curry paste (paprika could be used as a non spicy alternative). Could do this in the morning in less than 2 mins and just leave marinating in fridge. When you get in place fillets on baking tray and spread the top of each fillet with mango chutney and bake for 20mins. Serve with salad and fresh bread.

Tobuyornot99 Sun 28-Jan-18 18:31:48

Frozen mash, absolute life changer. Not really any more expensive than spuds, no added nasties, defrost / cook in microwave. Honestly for a quid a bag, put with some stew / whatever you've had out of the freezer, it's so easy.

fleaflyflo Sun 28-Jan-18 19:10:40

For the stir fry meals do you make a sauce or buy a ready made one?

Sorry to hijack!

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