Quickie Supper Ideas

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by goldenguru, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    I got hired. I am excited about the job, but dreading being out of my home 40+ hours per week.

    I don't get home until between 5:30 and 6:00. I am starving when I get home.

    For you veteran working women, how do you handle dinner? What ideas do you have for getting dinner on the table before midnight?

    I would appreciate any other working woman tips you have to offer (besides hiring a cook, laundress, cleaning lady since I am designated for these positions as well!!)

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    GG, congratulations for getting a job you were interested in at such a tough time in the economy. :bravo:
    The women I know who went back to work after being a stay at home mom, seemed to try to do all of it and eventually figured out that the had to become delegaters.
    Although you had a traditional arrangement previously, it is obvious that isn't the case any longer. Make up a calendar and chore list. Hubby will now need to step up.
    I'm strange about laundry. I prefer to do my own. Always have been this way. Grocery shopping on line has helped me a great deal and it cuts down on impulse buying. There are some wonderful family meals in our deli case at the market. It's a good thing to fall back on when life is spinning out of control. If you plan a menu, husband can grocery shop. Alternate days when one cooks or the other so he isn't too "put upon".:beautifulthing:
    Cleaning and men seem to be at odds. They don't see dirt or clutter quite like we do. I would be pretty specific with the chore list during the day.

    The other thing is adapt to the changes. Life isn't going to run as smoothly as it did when you were home more. The floor isn't going to be so clean or the meals so homemade but it works. No one can do it all.

    I forgot this was about quickie suppers. Sorry. There are some simple cook books that have meals ready in half an hour. I think the secret is the prep work. If things are chopped and ready then dinner prep will go faster.

    Good luck and congratulations on opening a new chapter in your life. Sorry to have lost my focus on your question.
  3. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Fran hit the nail on the head about prep. I used to set everything up on the weekend.

    I'd buy chopped meat and make mini-meat loaves and/or meatballs and freeze them. I'd buy those frozen chicken tenders (they're flash frozen so they aren't stuck together) and then throw them in the fridge in the a.m. before I left for work (did the same with the meatballs and mini meat loaves - which by the way, I made mini because they cook up in about 20 mins!) so they'd be defrosted when I got home. Roll the tenders in mayo or egg, bread crumb them and toss them in the oven

    Take frozen broccoli, chop some fresh garlic, heat some olive oil in a pan, carmelize the garlic, toss in the broccoli, salt/pepper to taste (if you're carmelizing the garlic, put some salt in with it - it pulls the sugar out of the garlic - or onions if that's your preference), toss in the broccoli (if frozen - throw a cover on it for a few mins. to defrost) stir it around until cooked to the consistency that you like and you've got the veggies too.

    You can do that with zucchini, squash, cauliflower,etc. To jazz any of them up, toss a little of the "shakey cheese" (parmasean) OR while you're sauteeing the veggies, shake 1/2 to a whole envelope of Good Season's Salad dressing mix (you know the stuff that you mix in the cruet) and it tastes fantastic. I've also mixed it in mashed potatos. Fantastic!

    Congratulations on the job! I'm totally jealous of you! ;)

  4. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Congratulations GG!

    I agree with everything Fran suggested about delegating and being specific about chores that need to get done.

    As for the cooking, I do a lot of prep on the weekends.

    I chop lettuce and vegetables, and put them in little plastic containers in the fridge. Instant salad, whenever one is needed. And the chopped vegetables can also go into stir fry dishes, be eaten raw with dip, or thrown into a soup or stew.

    I LOVE my crock pot. Toss in the ingredients first thing, before I leave for the office. Hot meal ready to go when I walk in the door after work.

    husband loves to barbecue, so I enlist him on the weekends to barbecue bulk packages of meat and chicken. Then they're ready to go for salads, soups, stews etc. Or in Little easy child's case, he's happy to just grab a chicken breast out of the fridge and eat it cold. It's nutritious, so I don't really mind.

    Making giant batches and freezing them. I will make a huge pot ful of sauce, stew, soup or something, and then put into single-serve plastic containers. Then put some in the fridge, some in the freezer. Some go with me to work for lunch, some are reheated for dinner, some stay in the freezer for when we need them.

    And then, there's my last resort. Take-out. The few places from which I order do online requests. At the end of the work day, I enter the order on the computer, queue up the delivery time to coincide with when I'm getting home. Don't do this too often because it's expensive, but sometimes...

    That's all I can think of for now.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I worked full-time with three kids under 5 years old. I was also studying. Not much time to do anything but no budget to go buy fast food.

    I cooked in bulk on weekends and froze it in small portions so I could get out a pack of something and accommodate different tastes. I'd cook one-pot meals (I have a store of recipes of you want).

    I also would hit the ground running as I got home after work. I'f walk in, grab food out of the fridge and put it in the microwave oven. Then it was back out the door to collect the mail, go start the washing machine. Get the package out of the microwave oven, serve it up for the kids and settle them to eat. Then throw in the next package for me and husband. Meanwhile I would get out the ingredients to cook another meal on the stove, getting it to simmer stage while the washing finished and the kids ate dinner. Once this new meal (for tomorrow night) was simmering slowly it was time to hang out the washing. The kids would be finished dinner by this stage (I always fed the kids first, getting their hunger dealt with made them nicer to know) so I would put them in the bath. husband & I would eat (in turns if necessary, so we could then take turns watching the kids and reading to them). Maybe he or I would get in the bath with the kids, that way we got clean AND watched them at the same time.

    Kids settled in bed, husband & I would have a bit of time to ourselves and before bed, we'd turn off the stove and put the casserole in the fridge for the next night. We'd used our time well - the pre-prepared food was ready to be eaten ASAP, but the time we naturally had to take getting dinner eaten, washing done, kids bathed - we used for the cooking time for the slow-cook on the stove.

    We couldn't use the crockpot because we were away from home for TOO long, the food would cook to a tasteless pulp if we left it all day. So this method worked for us.

    When the kids were really little, I would take (pre-prepared, frozen) home-cooked meals to the childcare centre for them, or at the later centre they had a chef who fed the kids so I could get away with occasional junk food. Or when I travelled on public transport with a baby, I would open a tin of baby food and feed the baby from it, while standing up on a crowded train. I had it down to a fine art. That way the baby was fed by the time we got home. I also breast-fed the baby on the train, and was able to do it very discreetly. The more crowded the train, the less people take notice of one another. Wearing a large poncho, I could feed the baby without anyone even knowing there was a baby under there.

    For fast meals when you're tired, last night's casserole either didn't work out or you just don't feel like it tonight - omelette is a great fast standby. And salad.

    There were times when I was so extremely tired, I didn't even want to take the time to cook an omelette, so I made an egg flip and drank it down then went to bed.

    Fast food - it's not always that fast. At least, the better quality stuff that isn't already sitting there dehydrating, takes time. Sometimes you may as well just forget about ordering the fast food if it means hanging around waiting for it, and instead just go home and cook it yourself. It won't save you any time, but it will save you money.

  6. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    3 lbs hamburger
    3 eggs
    3/4 c milk
    1 1/2 cup oatmeal
    3/4 c ketchup
    chopped onions
    salt and pepper

    Mix together and form into 2-3 loaves; bake at 350 for 1 hour if cooking the whole thing, appx 30 minutes if cooking 1/3 of it.

    Mix 1/2 c ketchup, 1/2 c brown sugar, and 1 tsp ground mustard; pour over loaf for last 10 minutes of baking (I usually double this for a full batch - the gang likes the sauce).

    My family was never a meatloaf fan, but they all really like this, and they even like to slice the leftovers for sandwiches the next night. I buy cake and loaf pans at garage sales or auctions and use those to freeze it in.

    My family prefers homemade spagetti sauce, so I make it in 5 gallon pots and can it in a pressure cooker. I also can cubed beef to use for beef stew, beef and noodles, or veggie soup. I can chicken and use it for chicken and noodles, or to throw on some tortillas with some shredded cheddar, and bake them up, and you have chicken quesidias in 15 minutes. Using the canned meat saves TONS of time and canning it yourself makes it cheap. I can have a homemade meal on the table in 30 minutes start to finish using one of the canned things above.

    If I have a weekend of bad weather, I will also make up a lasagna, and make 2 or 3 "extra" while I'm at it. I use my garage sale pans to put the extra lasagnas in, cover them in freezer paper, and freeze them. I can set it on the counter when I leave for work, and bake it for an hour as soon as I get home, with NO prep time on the day you eat it.

    The "pop" cans of pizza dough are really good, too. For about $5-$6 bucks, you can have a large pizza ready to throw in the oven in about 15 minutes, and my family loves it. This is a relatively "new" find for us. (ps, I buy grated cheese when its on sale and freeze it, too. It freezes GREAT!)
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2009
  7. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Now that my kids are older, I can usually wing it and throw something together because they are not always home and it ends up being only H and me for dinners. Some of the ways I try to keep things somewhat 'ready' is by breaking up my ingredients when I get back from my food shopping. For example, I split up family sized packages of meats into one pound baggies. If I have chicken breasts, I will put two in a plastic baggie and freeze it like that. This way I can pull out my pre-measured meats when needed. Also, divvying up my veggies and preparing a large salad twice a week - always ready to throw on the table. Also, make a large pot of rice or mashed potatoes on Sunday and then pack into the correct amounts for servings. Also, I buy that partial baked bread sticks in the fresh bakery section of the grocers and freeze. Easy enough to pop into the oven to go with a meal.

    Crockpots are great. Soups, stews, chilis & sauces. When I make any of these, I make extra and freeze for quick weekday dinners. Also, don't discount breakfast for dinners, such as egg omelets and fries or potato pancakes or regular pancakes, frittatas. Make a large veggie filled quiche on Sunday and you can have that for dinner two evenings.
  8. C.J.

    C.J. New Member

    Plan ahead and cook ahead. Ditto to all the other posters about preparing meals in advance, putting them into single serving containers, and freezing them.

    Over the weekend, I made a big pot of spaghetti. Divided it into 16 servings. N* and I both could eat spaghetti 3-4 times a week and not get tired of it.

    Other make in advance meals which freeze well - stock based soups, chili, shepherd's pie, jambalaya, roasted meats & vegetables, stir fry & rice. I'll make all the fixings for burritos, and put the finished mixture in the freezer, and when I want to eat that, I'll heat it first, then put it inside a tortilla. Tacos are always a quick meal, too.

    Don't forget the no-brainer meals: Sandwiches - sliced deli meat & cheese, a few vegetables - Done! I like to make grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup - dinner in less than 15 minutes.

    Congratulations on the new job - I know I'll need to be looking for one shortly - the bank I'm assigned to now is moving it's mortgage operation to Texas in a few months...
  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Here's a list of what helped me the most as a single working mom:

    1) Plan ahead and forget cooking everything from scratch.
    2) Cook things that take longer and that are good as left-overs (casseroles, spaghetti, crock pot dishes) on Sundays. Then, have it for dinner on Sun. evening and Tuesday and freeze part of it if there's enough.
    3) Not cooking everything from scratch means, for me, I buy pre-packaged salad greens and boil-in-the bag white rice and make things like spaghetti sauce by browning my own ground beef and tossing in onion and mushrooms, then mixing it with a sauce from a jar. I also add frozen meatballs (that I buy) to my skillet while I'm browning the ground beef.
    4) Then, for instance, Mon. and Thurs. dinner might be something off the grill plus vegies done in the big toaster over (cooks quicker and takes less time and energy to heat than the big oven) or vegies cooked on the stove- spinach, zuchinni, etc. (Tip- when there are only a couple of people to cook for- throw 2 night's of meat on the grill at one time- ie, beef for tonight plus chicken for the next night or two- it saves time and resources.)
    5) Then, maybe Wed.'s dinner is something quick and easy- a stir-fry and pasta or rice and salad or fish to stick in the oven. And one night a week- usually Fri. because I'd be the most tired- is what I call "wing-it" night. This means dinner is going to be something from the freezer or picked up on the way home or a bowl of soup and sandwich or pizza. It used to mean a possible dinner out, until finances got so tight.

    Oh- I forgot Sat LOL! On Sat is when I would cook whatever I might really want that would take longer. If I could get left-overs out of it or freeze some of it, all the better! Also, I taught difficult child that if there's a dinner he particularly likes but it takes a long time to prepare, he probably won't get it mid-week, but I'd make it sometimes on a Sat.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2009
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    These are all good ideas. You can also cook on the weekend for the entire week, or even the month. There is a cookbook called "Frozen Assets" that describes how to do this adn it is a pretty good plan.

    I hope you enjoy your new job! Congratulations!
  11. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Funny you should post this as I just today got an email from someone that has a HUGE amount of crock pot recipes. I haven't looked it over fully but there are a LOT of recipies in it. PM me your email if would like it and I'll send it to you.
  12. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Let's not forget "binner" (aka breakfast for dinner!)!

    My kids LOVE this!

  13. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    Now that I am working from home instead of going to an office, I have to constantly remind myself to get up and make dinner and the stove is like 10 feet from my desk - It was all good the first two weeks in September, and then I found myself working longer hours, like that was even possible, that I did when I had the office and now slack off a lot doing the dinner thing.

    During the week it was meals in 30 minutes. My staple was the crock pot once a week, and the George Forman Grill. Roasts for the oven were all put together with the veggies and what have you and put in the fridge. Anything that had to be defrosted was taken out in the morning. Usually a call was made an hour or so before I got home to whoever was here to turn on the oven and put the roast in, so when I hit the door starving all I had to do was serve it up.

    Although it seems good to be cutting and chopping and freezing stuff before hand, I know me and I am just not going to be making that as a priority to do over the weekend which is my heavy duty cleaning time and a bit of relaxing. I have a stock of the frozen meals in the fridge which get pulled out when I am too tired to put in a lot of time cooking, mainly for SO as he gets testy when he doesn't eat.

    The boys more or less forage for themselves, so really its just SO and I. But if I am going to cook, he is asked to help -measure out the rice, get the ingrediants together, chop the vegtables, onions, peel potatoes. Since I have been doing that, I have noticed he will start dinner all on his own, even down to finding receipes on the comuter for stuff we have. And I make SURE to make a big deal out of his participation LOL

  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Our family trick is "slice of bread pizza". You use a slice of bread (lightly toasted first if you prefer) and use it to biuld a small individual pizza. After all, pizza dough is bread dough...

    I spread it with garlic butter first if I have any, then sugo (bottled Italian tomato sauce, not ketchup) then bolognese sauce if I have any. After that, whatever you normally would put on a pizza. Then finish by cooking it under the grill. You can use pieces of pineapple or whatever to spell out the initial of the person whose pizza it is, or get the kids to each assemble their own. I've done the bases for the kids, then had bowls of ingredients for them to put on their own. I then put it all on a pizza tray and take it from there.

  15. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    here's a bbq chicken recipe that's pretty easy
    get a big pot and put 8-12 pieces of cut up chicken in it
    squirt a bottle of ketchup on it
    pour a 20 oz pepsi into it
    put the lid on and cook for about 30 minutes
    take lid off cook for about 10 minutes or until sauce thickens

    while chicken is cooking I make a salad and serve it with potato chips

    Being organized was the key when I worked outside the home, try to line up as much as you can before you go to bed, kids backpacks with homework, gym shoes etc. in it, shoes & coat and clothes for each kid (make them pick it and then stick with that decision next day), if take lunch pack it night before.

    I made a "weekly panic" chart on the computer and printed it up - had my whole week on one sheet of paper! calls to make, things to repair, things to schedule, corner for the kids permission slips, homework, chores, medications etc.;

    When cook on weekend would make an extra meatloaf, or freeze turkey, stew, spagetti sause or lasagne squares. Monday usually had leftover roast or ham from Sunday. List of quick meals sloppy joes, bbq chicken, chicken stirfry, taco's. On panic chart list appointments for the week and next column menu (so I could easily see if possible to make something and still make the 7pm PTA meeting) also as a reminder in the morning what I'm grabbing from the freezer and if when I go to grab - if missing key ingredient can default to tomorrow menu (I don't think too well in the morning so I try not to have to at all.)
  16. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    Thanks ladies for all of the wonderful ideas! Sounds like time management and pre planning is key!!

    I have to remember that things are gonna change around here - and well change is hard. So thank you again for all of the encouragement and practical advice! I'll be referring back to this thread often.

  17. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    If you and husband like it, salmon is quick. We don't do it too often as it is spendy, but we marinade it in a teriyaki type sauce, then grill or broil. Can have salad, mixed vegies and rice or a potato with it. I always make an extra piece and then make salmon patties for easy child and I. We made this last night, and I will have salmon patties for lunch today and maybe tommorrow.

    Good luck. Plannning and time management are key, you got that right.
  18. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member

    Congratulations on your new job!!!:D

    You've already received lots of helpful suggestions and some recipes (this thread is making want to eat, lol...) too. I've found "binner" - NVTS is so creative - Love this word!!! - to be a lifesaver many times. And, the plus is that all of my kids will eat it too.

    If you like fish, it takes practically no time to cook... The way crazymama30 cooks salmon is delicious - I cook it this way too. Sometimes I sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top... Also good for when you're in a super rush - Wash and pat dry just about any type of fish, drizzle olive oil over it, sprinkle already prepared seasoning mix over it (I have to use Mrs. Dash seasonings because of husband's health problems), and bake in a non stick pan until it flakes... Very quick and healthy... (I know, this isn't the most "kid friendly" type of dinner... I confess, I'll let my kids eat sandwiches if I make this... )

    As others already suggested, having veggies ready to go, using instant rice, etc. make getting dinner on the table much easier. Best of luck in your new job!!! WFEN
  19. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    It looks like most of us use the same methods. Recently I have begun to use the frozen "steamer" vegetable bags and that really saves time. I have always browned an extra pound of ground beef when cooking burgers or meatloaf and frozen 1/2 pound packs to toss in spagetti sauce or have for taco's etc.

    For my family it is important to not only preplan but to post on the refrigerator door what the weekly menu will be. It eliminates gripes, random yens ;) and keeps everyone from eating as a snack part of the meal plan, lol.

    At one time I had a set pizza pick up night on Wednesdays. For some reason that is a "special offer" night around here and everyone looked forward to the treat. by the way, I also cook on the weekend and I also love walking in the door to the aroma of crockpot or all day oven meals ready to be devoured!

    Good luck to you. I'm thrilled that you are able to work at a job that appeals to you. The rest of the week will soon fall into place. DDD
  20. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    The most important lesson we learned - fresh food often cooks fastest. If you have salad, it's quickest of all.

    KISS principle - teriyaki fish is lovely, you only need to marinate it for half an hour. If you marinate teryaki for too long it can absorb too much salt which you won't be able to get rid of from the dish.

    But you can also cook fish without anything added. husband generally buys fresh fish every Saturday (if it's not too expensive). He brings it hoome and where most people would batter it or crub it, husband simply drops the fish straight into a non-stick frypan. No marinade, no coating, nothing. OK, maybe a rub of butter over the pan. And it's absolutely delicious.

    Easter last year our friends from Philadelphia were staying with us. We took them for a long drive on Saturday down to the Southern HIghlands, and came back home via the coastal beaches and the southern fish market. We bought the fresh fish, took it home and put it straight into the pan. It cooked in about five minutes, enough time for me to grab whatever was raw in the fridge and make a salad. Our friends were either very good actors and good at lying, or they really enjoyed it.

    If I have the luxury of tiime, I "play" with my food. I have a great fried oyseter recipe, but nobody else in the family likes oysters so I get to eat them all, and do I want to go to all that trouble just for little old me? Yep, sometimes.

    But most of the time, we get nourishing, healthy and FAST meals, by mucking around with it as little as possible.

    So now you have a wide range of ideas for a wide range of your own situations.

    Grab what you want, use what you can, remember the rest and look after yourself well in your new busyness.

    Tme management and multitasking is the key.