Working Mums/parents (especially 9-5’ers) how do you plan your dinners for kids?
Lifewithcherryd · 14/12/2022 21:23
this is for the OG’s (everyone that has either already been there, done that) or for the parents currently figuring it out, how do you plan your dinners for your family for when you return home from work (especially if you have younger ones I.e toddlers etc)?
do you always batch cook on weekends or meal prep really well so you don’t spend too long in the kitchen (and if so, how long do you spend cooking when you return from work)
i return back to work in a few months and I’ll have 2 under 4 and will be picking them up from nursery around 5.30pm so that’s fairly late already so I’m after all the tips, advice that you have either for young ones or even school aged kids.
im terrible with meal planning and I don’t want to spend forever in the kitchen after work either so any tips would be much appreciated
Marblessolveeverything · 14/12/2022 21:29
I would assume the little ones will have had dinner so it would be a light quick tea for them e.g. scrambled egg, toasties, pasta.
For the adults we always cooked Monday nights dinner on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday pre prepared slow cooker meals. Thursday would be stir fry / fajitas again pre prepared. And Friday was eat out and meant Saturday I woke to a clean kitchen.
We also alternated responsibility of sorting dinner so the mental planning etc was shared.
user2391 · 14/12/2022 21:32
Well mine have tea at nursery so they are not that hungry, but we still sit down for a family meal around 6. Just do quick stuff (pasta, stir fry, fajitas, omelette) slow cooker stuff (pulled pork, chilli, bolognaise) or freezer stuff (bolognaise, curry)
Kids are 1 and 3
Lifewithcherryd · 14/12/2022 21:33
@Marblessolveeverything ooo I love this idea and definitely here for a clean kitchen on a Saturday! Lol
i definitely think I’m maybe overthinking the little ones dinner then, cause yes they have their tea at nursery around 3.30pm so it’s something to just fill them up a bit more before bed.
UsingChangeofName · 14/12/2022 21:34
The slow cooker was my friend.
Any veg prepped the evening before and chuck into the slow cooker before going out.
Things like a cottage pie or lasagne made the night before so just needs to be heated through.
Then all the meals you can throw together in about 20mins or less - 101 versions of pasta with different sauces.
Accepting that some nights eggs, or beans on toast are perfectly acceptable, and it is fine to have "something out the freezer on to an oven tray" with something like peas / sweetcorn on the side sometimes.
trilbydoll · 14/12/2022 21:35
As pp said surely they have eaten tea at nursery? DD1 had scrambled eggs and tinned spaghetti when she got home from nursery days. They can just have pasta and tuna or beans on toast if they need something extra.
I would cook meals that can just go in the oven when you get home and you eat after dc are in bed, like chicken in sauce with jacket potatoes.
I'm not much of a cook tbh, I eat a lot of stir fry because it's quick and easy (I just buy the stir fry veg bags from the supermarket) or we also eat a lot of Mexican meal kits, same reason. Freezer always stocked with fish fingers.
Lifewithcherryd · 14/12/2022 21:36
@user2391 thank you! I just recently bought a slow cooker so definitely need to try some recipes in it and save some time
Lcb123 · 14/12/2022 21:37
Mine have a hot meal at lunchtime so just picky bits when get home
Justisme · 14/12/2022 21:38
My non working day is Monday. Go into work Tuesday and works from home rest of the week. Partner goes into work Wednesday and his non working day is Friday. however it takes 2 hours a day to do drop off and pick up and we work compressed hours 9+hours so really have to make sure food is ready ahead of the working day.
I have been back to work 6 months now and we managed this by doing a meal plan/ online shop every Friday for the week ahead.
we do three dishes between us, Saturday Sunday Monday are our cooking days. I have. List of meals I cook on a rota, so can just go onto list and know what I will be cooking. Easy.
then the days we work all we have to do is serve up when we get home. Sometimes on Thursdays / Fridays we will have fish and chips/ jacket potato/ oven pizza with veggies etc. quick easy meals
meal prep - aim to cook meals on Sunday (stews are easy and healthy. Chuck veggies and meat in a lot and let it simmer for a few hours)
have one/ two easy meals to chuck in the oven/ microwave meals each week if prepped meals get eaten up.
freeze extra portions- things like curry, lasagna etc.
it’s all about the organisation..
Lifewithcherryd · 14/12/2022 21:40
@UsingChangeofName pasta is definitely my go to already.. ALL the variations lol
love the idea of the cottage pie/ lasagna being made in advance so it just needs to be warmed up
Lifewithcherryd · 14/12/2022 21:42
@trilbydoll im deffo here for the quick & easy!
they do have tea at nursery but it’s around 3.30 so I worry they may be a bit hungry around 6 but I think I’m overthinking it too
FatAgainItsLettuceTime · 14/12/2022 21:42
DD is 8 now but we've both worked full time since she was 9months.
Nursery it was a bit easier because she would have an early tea at about 3.30pm there so when she got home it was just a light supper, stuff on toast, Omelette, that kind of thing.
Now we are all done with work and home for 6pm so during the week we make quick 30 minute dinners with little to no prep needed.
A favourite is to buy big trays of chicken breast/thighs/drumsticks or pork steaks. When unpacking the shopping I split the meat into portion sizes and put it in ziplock bags with some kind of flavouring like honey &mustard/bbq sauce/ lime and coriander and freeze it. Night before take it out of the freezer and into the fridge to defrost. It just needs to go on a tray with another tray of broccoli/ green beans / corn on the cob / cauliflower and all in the oven together for 25 - 30 mins. Or cook the meat and serve with microwave rice or frozen veg.
Enchiladas or tacos are quick and tasty as are stir fry's
One night a week we'll have stuff on toast (beans and fried egg, mmmmm) or soup and a cheese toastie for dipping.
Justisme · 14/12/2022 21:43
Oh and a takeaway once a week usually on a Friday and this is a different one but a bbq (even in this weather!) on a Saturday night lots of meat and salad/ mash on the side - this gives us leftovers for the dinners during the week too!
Lifewithcherryd · 14/12/2022 21:46
@Justisme love the detail of this! Thank you. Love the idea of having a list of meals that you can cook on rota. Definitely great for someone like me that’s trying to get into an organised meal planning situation.
Lifewithcherryd · 14/12/2022 21:49
@FatAgainItsLettuceTime love the organisation of dividing the chicken pieces and pre prepping in advance.
saving the meal ideas too!!
confusedlots · 14/12/2022 21:49
I try to make a big pot of something that will do 2 nights, easy just to heat up again on the second night, chicken in a sauce with rice, pasta bake etc. My kids love bolognaise so I make a big batch every few weeks and freeze, easy just to heat up and put on some pasta. They also like the fresh filled tortellini pasta, which is very quick to do, I always keep a few packs in the fridge as it keeps for quite a while. Salmon and veg is quite quick to make. And sometimes I'll make the fajita filling the evening before so I just need to heat it up for dinner. And then some nights I just do chicken nuggets/fish fingers etc.
qpmz · 14/12/2022 21:53
We don't eat with our toddler as it's just too early. We give her snacks such as a banana if she's been at nursery and eaten there. For us, we cook something quick like fish cakes and eat at 7 or 8. I might eat mine before I put her to bed and my partner will have his whenever. We're not a sit round the table together at 6 type family but it works for us.
Lifewithcherryd · 14/12/2022 21:54
@confusedlots all here for something that can be had for two nights lol
RewildingAmbridge · 14/12/2022 21:59
On the days I pick DS up from nursery after 5 Tuesdays and Thursdays he's had dinner there, much easier all round. Mondays I work but DH is off, so either cooks or gets a batch meal from the freezer. Wednesdays are grandma days so he'll have a batch cooked meal prepared by them or occasionally fish fingers. Fridays I am off, weekends I am off so those 3 days family dinner as usual. I don't batch cook separately but every time I make something like curry, spag bol, chicken paprikash, chilli , minestrone etc I make large amounts and freeze. For DS I use silicone ice cube trays which then pop out into freezer bags. He used to have one cube with pasta, rice etc and some veg now he has two. It's very flexible
Heatherbell1978 · 14/12/2022 21:59
Kids are primary school age and eat when they return home from after school club - some time between 5.30 and 6.30. Nothing creative, pasta, pizza, oven stuff etc. DH and I don't eat until after they're in bed, usually around 8.30pnm
RewildingAmbridge · 14/12/2022 22:01
I also buy big packs of chicken breasts, thighs or pork loin steaks and freeze with various herbs, spices or marinades
ohmyohmy123 · 14/12/2022 22:03
I started following the batch lady when I went back to full time work. She basically uses the same ingredients to make 10 meals in an hour.
4 x burgers
She doubles the recipes so you have 10 meals.
She also does it with chicken and fish. Or you can just adapt your own recipes and use the principles.
It's saved me so much stress doing this! I just make sure that whatever we are having with them is prepared in the morning or night before. I have a microwave rice cooker, pasta is quick but I sometimes double it and save some in fridge to reheat for the kids the next day.
Potatoes are quick to peel beforehand and stick on soon as you get in.
foodtoorder · 14/12/2022 22:08
I'm a few years down the line and remember the "how will we manage meal time" fear from when I went back.
What has worked for me is as pp have said, making sure they have a warm meal at nursery most days so only light teas/supper needed something to share a meal with later.
When making meals at home, cook more than needed and freeze portions to heat and add to quickly.
Generally meal plan with the shopping list each week to use as a guide for the week so you can see clearly what you need to do throughout the week.
All sounds a bit dull and organised but it has helped us to get through the busy weeks with some sanity.
Lifewithcherryd · 14/12/2022 22:09
@qpmz 6 is too early for me too but as long as the kids are sorted, that’s my main bugbear.
foodtoorder · 14/12/2022 22:10
Oh and don't be afraid to resort to something on toast or omelette once a week.
3partypics · 14/12/2022 22:10
Check out taming twins Instagram/website for 'dump bags'.... basically a way of prepping in advance which doesn't involve hours in the kitchen. Lots of her recipes are great.
I tend to make dinners last two nights during the week while mine are little, so I'll make chilli on Sunday for Monday/Tuesday, one night we'll have it with rice and the other baked potatoes or wraps and nachos or whatever so it doesn't get too boring.
If you have an air fryer, always have a bag of the cheap/plain fishcakes in the freezer, literally cook in a few mins and shove some frozen peas or beans on the side and it's a balanced meal that toddler will eat!
My little one will also eat the night befores leftovers if we are eating after her because of schedules, then I'll keep a small portion aside for her the next day and then we'll cook when she's in bed. This is our current situation as she's dropped all naps and now needs to sleep at 6.30pm!
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