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If you both WOTH how on earth do you manage the food cooking/ shopping and get healthy meals on the table every day? I need some help please!

(22 Posts)
foothesnoo Mon 22-Sep-08 17:41:29

Am feeling increasingly ground down by this. DH and I both work full time OTH, although I do a day from home a week. I am beginnning to absolutely hate the whole meal planning/ shopping/ cooking thing and it seems to take hours out of my week.

DH is home long before me and will generally get the children their supper three nights out of five - but I need to either have cooked something in advance for him to give them or give him strict instructions about what they should have. Left to his own devices it will be beans on toast or scambled egg (ok, but where's the veg and fruit?)

Then I get home and we start cooking again - especially if DH has given the kids something quick. We eat about 9.00, clear up, then it's almost time for bed!

We don't have a huge freezer, so can't cook in bulk. We don't eat meat so all those handy tips about cooking a chicken and then eating it for four days running are out!

So I need some quick meal ideas which are healthy and which the kids will eat. Any other tips appreciated - I can't be the only person who has this problem? And any other tips for helpiong me to get organised. Do people have standard menus that they rotate? Eat the same thing every Monday? What am I missing?

Marina Mon 22-Sep-08 18:19:15

We don't have a huge freezer either missus but you need to be creative with whatever space you have. Then you can cook double and freeze half.
Do you eat fish?
Kedgeree made with brown arborio rice is good and fast - a one-pot meal
Pasta (brown de Cecco fusilli, the best wholemeal there is IMO) with broccoli and anchovies (substitute blue cheese, good and tangy)
Piperade made with previously roasted peppers
Curried squash soup with pain de campagne and either Cauldron veg pate or cheese
Spinach and leek pasta au gratin
Shout if you want precise instructions/logistics

Overmydeadbody Mon 22-Sep-08 18:22:26

You don't need a huge freezer.

I prep lots of stuff at once, like peeling and chopping enough carrots for three days and keeping them in a tupperware container in the fridge.

Little things like that.

LucyJones Mon 22-Sep-08 18:26:15

this is why mine are having school dinners to be honest
Then shopping is just for sandwiches, etc after school, breakfast and main meals for me and dh

TheProvincialLady Mon 22-Sep-08 18:31:05

I hardly ever make anything in the week that takes longer than half an hour and we all eat it or lump it. Today we had pasta and tomato sauce (fry an onion, add 3 tblsp tomato puree, water, chopped olives, capers and marinated artichokes, pepper - cook until the pasta and salad are ready). Yesterday we had a stew (fry leeks, add carrots, potatoes and courgettes and a tin of pulses then add stock/herbs and cook - serve with pasta in it or crusty bread). We are vegetarian so maybe that helps but you can buy recipe books for making meals in 30 minutes or less and that is how I got started.

janeite Mon 22-Sep-08 18:39:40

Janeite's patented formula for stress free week day meals:

Cook TWO meals on a Sunday so that you are always one day ahead of yourself. Eg: Cook huge vat of bolognaise sauce on a Sunday and eat half of it with pasta; turn the other half into chilli for Monday. On Monday, cook chilli and whilst it's cooking, cut up the vege (or whatver) so Tuesday's meal is partly ready. Etc. Oh - and have a takeaway on the day you are most knackered (ours is usually Thursday).

ComeOVeneer Mon 22-Sep-08 18:41:51

Slow cooker. Can pepare the night before and leave pot in fridge. Take out in morning and put on before you leave for work.

Beetroot Mon 22-Sep-08 18:42:45

There are quick and easy meals but I doknow what you mean.

fish cakes are good
infact most fish is quick
pizza for the knackered meetings late day
It does not all ahve ot be fresh and uber healthy!

bought pizza is fine once a week.
farm shops do great fish cakes - although Slater- as do most chefs - does a simple one that is very easy.

ComeOVeneer Mon 22-Sep-08 18:43:18

George Foreman grill is very useful too. Cooks meat/chicken very quickly (keeps it moist too). Have with steamed veg and baked potato/sauteed potatoes etc

BecauseImWorthIt Mon 22-Sep-08 18:45:12

Do you do your shopping online? Once you have got it all set up, it will not take long to do, and then you don't have the trawl round the supermarket that seems to take the best part of 2 hours out of my weekend.

Meal planning is definitely the way to go so that you always know what you're doing. It seems a small thing, but knowing what's for dinner removes a lot of stress!

And I think you need to have stern words with your DH about giving the children what you feel is an acceptable meal. Or just give in - nothing wrong with scrambled eggs or beans on toast. Why not do this and then if he really won't give them any fruit, make sure that you do this as soon as you walk through the door - or bark an instruction at him to do it.

Another thing to consider would be to get a slow cooker, and use some time in the morning to chuck everything in the pot.

ivykaty44 Mon 22-Sep-08 18:50:17

meal planner - there are a few knocking about, there may even be a veggie one that someone can send you. It is a months worth of meals on a planner - and then along side each dinner the list of food you need. So you take it shopping with you and use it as a list aswell.
Once you have sorted out a month planner you dont need to keep doing it just re-use the same one.

foothesnoo Mon 22-Sep-08 18:51:34

Marina I would love the pasta recipes.

Provincial I do sometimes throw together a veggie stew (known as a student special by DH) but the kids hate them - you must be better at it than me. We do eat fish and agree that can be a quick meal although my home made fishcakes always fall apart!

Are slow cookers good if you don't eat meat?

Beetroot Mon 22-Sep-08 18:51:50

I could not get my head around the meal planner!!

foothesnoo Mon 22-Sep-08 18:58:33

We do meal plan but that takes bloomin ages too!

Janeite I like your idea of having a meal in hand.

Mustn't be too harsh on dh - he has just called me on the train to say he's cooking me something nice.

WilfSell Mon 22-Sep-08 19:07:46

Hot school dinners, then always have in the fridge or cupboard things to make up the following combos:

ham sandwiches, cheese, fruit, glass of milk

noodles with sesame seeds and soy beans and a touch of sesame oil/low salt soy sauce dressing

rice/noodles (we use the micro rice packets, to the collective horror of MN but they're fine and VV quick), frozen sweetcorn and tin of tuna

pasta, passata, tiny spoon of sugar, grated cheese, frozen peas

pasta, peas, cheese, pesto

None of the above take longer than 10 mins, start to finish, some considerably less time.

I am not a food snob; we both work; we often need to feed kids quickly, very quickly before world war three breaks out. These things work...

If we have a bit more time we also do:

roasted butternut squash and roast chicken pieces (just lob them in the oven, chop the squash once it is roasted, no other work)

DH does a mean selection of curries and pasta dishes, mostly with Quorn from the freezer - cooks much more quickly than meat!

janeite Mon 22-Sep-08 19:11:33

Also -

rice noodles for the children - just pour boiling water over and serve with vege and soy sauce

ditto cous cous

baked potatoes are easy to whack in the oven and then just eat with deli stuff - houmus, olives etc

Amazing stuffed peppers - slice long red peppers in half lengthways and scoop out seeds; stuff with feta cheese mashed with red onion, lemon juice and herbs. Stick peppers back together, pour over olive oil. bake. Serve with salad. Scrummy and ready in about 20 mins.

WilfSell Mon 22-Sep-08 19:12:53

Was it you janeite with the rice noodles tip? I have used that for the last few weeks and they are brilliant and hugely quick! I just have to work out how to get them not to stick together...

janeite Mon 22-Sep-08 19:14:33

Yep it was me. A bit of sesame oil should stop them sticking.

WilfSell Mon 22-Sep-08 19:18:44

You can also buy or make cheap pizzas for the freezer and then just chuck on ham, vegetables etc..

Definitely do online shopping, order a few weeks in advance with essential kids' food items.

The items I listed can often be stored easily and for long periods so buy in bulk if you've room to store them. We also buy lots of cheese, yoghurts, nuts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, small packets of ham (so you can open one at a time not have huge ones sitting there for ages), low salt crackers etc.. You could encourage your DH to provide a 'picnic' tea coupla times a week, but remind him to put fruit on the plate as well as the other snacks!

Fennel Mon 22-Sep-08 19:19:11

We manage by taking turns and having lots of healthy food in ready to cook quickly (organic veg box, big stocks of fruit). And regular favourites which are quick for the busiest nights.

Scrambled egg and toast would be fine if with veg too, in my opinion. The meal doesn't have to look as though it's going to win a cookery competition. AAnd you don't have to be endlessly inventive, children like the same thing over and over. Eggs, beans, toast and steamed brocolli is the sort of thing mine had a lot as toddlers.

Some of our other staples:
Baked potatos with veg and fillings (tuna, cheese, hummous, cottage cheese).
Fish fingers/veggie sausages, veg and some sort of potato or rice or pasta
Lots of variations on pasta + passata/pesto + veg.
Stuffed pasta with spinach or walnuts etc in.

ivykaty44 Mon 22-Sep-08 20:04:44

Pasta pesto and cherry tomatos with sweetcorn - takes 10 mins then grate cheese on top.

veggie sausages with vegtables and yorkshire pudding (aunt bessies) lots of gravy and mint sauce served with mash potato.

Dahl with pitta bread to dip and bombay potato - dalh is much better if cooked ona sunday and left in the fridge for a couple of days. So make it whilst you are making whatever on a sunday.

Friday thai curry - bung frozen fish fillet in slow cook, pour over coconut milk and thai curry paste to your taste, then turn on slow cooker, add a good portion of mixed frozen veg and give it all a good stir (not easy with frozen fish) make sure everything is covered. leave for the day on low whilst you are at work. Cook rice when you come in and serve with the curry. easier than going out for a takeaway wink

blueshoes Mon 22-Sep-08 21:10:58

foot, I plan menus for each day a week in advance. I have so many recipes I don't have to rotate the same food for a long time but I have certain faves I might make every 3 weeks. Big weekly shop on Friday with top ups of bread etc from the local Tesco Metro during the week.

Even if you don't have the space to freeze food, you can always cook portions for 2 dinners at once. You can just keep the second portion in the fridge until you are ready to cook.

Like others, dh and I do a lot of food preparation and as much cooking as possible during the weekend. Due to this, most of our cooking is done by Tues/Wed and the rest of the week just involves reheating food which is great not only because you don't have to cook but also the washing up is much less.

Curries are great for double cooking (and taste better if the taste has had time to steep overnight). For pastas, I make 2 lots of sauces and decant half for the next time I eat it so I only cook the pasta on that day and add the sauce. Roast lamb chops, steak and grilled fish are easy, require minimum prep so can be done on the day. We eat a lot of rice and use a rice cooker. Veg are just grilled or stirfried, so quick and easy.

My basic meal template is some protein (meat/fish and seafood), some veg and some carbs (rice, pasta), although we go veg at least once a week.

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