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Have 5 mo old, working pt, & pooped...what to cook?

s
super_b Sep 24, 2008 10:41 AM

My first post, so please be kind...

I'm sure that there are other posts with wonderful suggestions about this topic, but I can't seem to find them. Here's my dilemma:

We have a 5 month old at home and I'm back to work part-time. By the time my hubby gets home, we're both so pooped that we end up eating sammys or something grilled. I miss cooking and I'm getting sick of both, so I ask you all for suggestiosn for quick, healthy, and tasty meal ideas. Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  1. c
    Cinnamon May 17, 2009 03:27 PM

    Stir-fry can be a great meal-in-an-instant. Curries too. Look for very thinly sliced sirloin at the grocer's, use some coconut oil and quickly stir-fry with a few veggies such as sliced onions and red peppers. A dash of fish sauce at the end and a squirt of lime, and you're basically done.

    Or if you get some red Thai curry paste from the grocery, add a little coconut oil to the recommended amount, stir in the thin beef strips and then a can of coconut milk, and simmer, serve that over rice. If you must, Trader Joe's (if you're in California or another area that has them) has microwaveable jasmine rice that you store in the freezer. As with almost everything, fresh is way better from making your own curry to using fresh coconut and dry rice but that would be way too much on your schedule and in this case the shortcut stuff is still terrific.

    1. m
      masha May 16, 2009 09:06 AM

      Instead of quick foods, if you are not too hungry, consider dishes that are quickly prepped and then go into the oven to bake for an hour or 90 minutes, such as meatloaf, roast, or a casserole. In the meantime, you can put your feet up or, give the baby a bath and phut him/her to bed. Then, come back to the kitchen, steam some vegetables or make a salad, and sit down to a peaceful dinner.

      Alternately, if you want a quick meal, here is one that I've been making a lot: that takes about 1/2 hour tonce you've done it a few times:

      Grilled Chicken Breasts, with tepid potatoe salad:

      1. Take 2 or 3 Boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, and slice horizontally so they are thin. Cover chicken with bottled Italian dressing and turn so they are completely coated. Set aside for about 20 minutes.
      2. Meanwhile, scrub some red potatoes, leaving them whole if they are small, or cutting in half or quarters if larger. Place in casserole dish and add a scant amount of water. Cover and microwave for 5 minutes. Then preheat grill.
      3. While potatoes are cooking. cut up asparagus spears into bite size pieces, on bias. Blanche them for about 3 minutes (i..e, steam over boiling water for 3 minutes, and then immerse them in or run cold water over so they stop cooking.) Or you can leave asparagus whole and grill them when you grill the chicken, and cut up asparagus after cooking.
      4. When potatoes have finished par-cooking in microwave, drain them, cut in 1/2, and coat in olive oil with Kosher salt, pepper, and assorted fresh or dried herbs. (Quickest is just to use some Herbes de Provence). Then place potatoes on grill and cook for a total of 10 minutes, turning to brown evenly.
      5. Add Chicken to grill and cook for about 7-8 minutes, turning half way through.
      6. Tear up some salad greens. Add asparagus to salad, and some julienned red peppers. Dress in vinaigrette. (I use homemade but you could use bottled).
      7. Remove potatoes and chicken from grill. Dress potatoes with vinaigrette and add to salad.
      8. Serve chicken on side, with salad.

      Depending on your appetites will have 2-4 pieces of chicken left over, which can be used for sandwiches, or cut up and used with another dinner later in the week.

      This dish also works with shrimp, grilling for only 2 minutes.

      1. alkapal May 16, 2009 08:47 AM

        make a big pot of beans in the slowcooker. freeze some in individual dinner-size portions. the rest, eat in various "versions" during the week. as a soup, in burritos with rice and veggies topped with cilantro, mashed and fried as "cakes" to top with some meat dish. there was a chow tips article about fixing beans and eating them every day of the work week. http://www.chow.com/stories/11543

        make yellow rice with chicken, add in some frozen chopped bell pepper strips, maybe some black or green olives. easy and quick.

        a "barbecue" pulled pork butt made in the slow cooker can be re-visited in variations, as others have mentioned above.

        1. t
          The Old Gal Oct 3, 2008 08:29 AM

          Never, ever make one. If you do mac and cheese, do two and freeze one. If you make a stew, double it and freeze half. If you buy a roasted chicken, buy two. With the later you serve the breast in various ways, freeze the legs and wings wrapped tightly (no air) in plastic and toss the carcasses in the soup pot. Soup makes itself while you take care of the baby.

          1 Reply
          1. re: The Old Gal
            Whosyerkitty Oct 4, 2008 06:41 PM

            There are some great suggestions here. As a working mom, too, I try and keep our weekday dinners under a 1/2 hour prep time, even with a now 10 year old. Roasted chickens from the deli can be a Godsend, but I also get sick of it, so I sometimes take it off the bone and freeze the meat for quesadilla, chicken salad, thrown into soups, etc. I will pan broil steaks and chops, sauté or bake chicken breasts (marinate in the morning, if that's what you like) or fish and then make rice or couscous pilafs or something while it's cooking. Pre-prep things like celery and onions on weekends so you don't have to do that during the week and just cook the grain in broth, throw the veggies on top of the grain and there you go. Take advantage of salads in bags and nuke potatoes and veggies even if you didn't before. Pan broil beef or turkey burgers and have deli potato or pasta salad. Remember, 30 minutes, max. You can have your meal and have the dishwasher running within an hour, an hour and 15, so you can then relax.

            Alternate nights, or weeks, with your husband so that the burden is not always on you. One of you can do KP one night while the other is feeding/bathing the baby/tossing in laundry (how such tiny things can manage to create so much laundry remains a mystery).

            Plan your meals and do ONE big shop once a week, so you're not running out to get a forgotten item and keep plenty of staples, including things like onions and garlic, as well as pasta and cheeses, so you don't have to take the time to shop before dinner or on the way home. In a pinch you can make pasta dressed with olive oil, some nuked veggies or some of that leftover chicken and parm, romano or bleu cheese with a nice green salad.

            It's important that you eat nutritious, healthy meals (and take your VITS!) now because you're still recovering and especially if you're nursing. And trust me, it all gets easier with time until they start TALKING, and then that's a whole different ballgame.

          2. maplesugar Oct 2, 2008 06:36 PM

            Eggs! Frittatas/stratas and the like come together quick and easy and you can throw in whatever ingredients you like:

            3 large eggs
            1 cup flour
            1 cup 1% milk
            1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
            2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
            4 slices bacon or turkey bacon, cooked and chopped

            Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl mix together eggs, milk and flour until thoroughly blended, then mix in chopped spinach, cheese and bacon (or sub with veggies like red pepper, and onion....numerous possibilities). Bake at 350F for 20 min until set and top is lightly browned. Serve hot or at room temp.

            1. c
              cheesecake17 Oct 2, 2008 04:50 PM

              Take one day a month for yourself, and cook up a storm. I work and go to school full time, so I have very little time to cook as well. One one day I'll make a ton of different items, and freeze them in either single portion containers (for the nights I'm at school and DH eats alone) or aluminum casserole-size dishes. Here's some tried and true favorites:

              -Chili (turkey or beef)
              - veggie baked ziti
              -eggplant or zuchini parm
              -tomato sauce (from fresh or canned tomatoes for pasta)
              -moussaka
              -potato or sweet potato 'pie'
              -soup (all kinds)
              -sauteed spinach casserole with cheese

              Good luck!

              1. j
                jpc8015 Sep 30, 2008 11:36 PM

                I like to make a huge pot of chicken and vegetable soup. Nothing more than a clear broth, chunks of chicken meat, carrots, onion, and celery. Then you can just add things to a portion of it each night to have different dinner. One night you can boil up some egg noodles for chicken noodle soup. Another night you can steam up some rice for chicken and rice. Another night you can make some dumpling out of bisquick, the recipe is on the side of the box. Chicken soup also freezes really well.

                1. pepper_mil Sep 30, 2008 09:39 PM

                  Congee - keep a base (cooked rice boiled in water til creamy) in your fridge, then when you get home heat and stir in whatever you want. It's a great light dinner in a few minutes and your baby will love it when he or she starts eating adult food. I have a couple posts on my blog with recipes and one more to come: http://frugalcuisine.blogspot.com

                  1. Amuse Bouches Sep 30, 2008 06:23 PM

                    I have a one year old and I still miss cooking. We eat a lot of frozen meals (Not lean cuisine -- think Trader Joe's), and pasta with doctored sauces. I also make a quick meatball soup with frozen turkey meatballs, 2 kinds of salsa and chicken broth. Lasagna is another favorite (no boil noodles only) -- I can make it before work and pop it in the oven when I get home. Those precooked chicken sausages make regular appearances -- we grill them on the George Foreman and eat with a salad. Steaks are a great quick meal (easier IMO than chicken in a pinch), and I also make main course salads (one of my favorites is lettuce, tomatoes, corn, basil, and jicama, with ranch dressing, topped with leftover cooked chicken cut up and tossed in bbq sauce, crumbled tortilla chips and grated cheese.) Another favorite is a thai style turkey dish I make -- saute red bell peppers and onions sliced into strips in olive oil, add ground turkey and brown, add sriracha, fish sauce, lime juice and some sugar, and cook until the turkey's cooked through, then add a handful of basil leaves and eat with rice.

                    1. rudeboy Sep 27, 2008 02:07 AM

                      My first thought is that you should assign your husband one night a week to go to the store and prepare dinner. There's that nice interim period where you stay home and practically take care of everything while he works. The problem is that the guy gets used to the girl doing everything in the iterim period. Once you go back to work, which I'm sure is at least partially for financial reasons, both parties have to step up to "the plate." I only know this because I'm that guy. We have a 6 month old......

                      1. q
                        Querencia Sep 26, 2008 06:11 PM

                        Let the oven take care of you, and buy plenty of aluminum foil. You can bake 1) a couple of chicken breasts (bone in with skin so they don't dry out) or 2) a couple of thick pork chops (with a slice of onion on top so they don't dry out) or 3) frozen breaded fish fillets or a ham steak (with canned pineapple rings on top) or 4) boneless skinless chicken breasts with a can of Cream of Chicken Soup (undiluted) smeared over them to make a surprisingly good gravy. With this bake a 1) a couple of nice big Idaho baking potatoes or a 2) a couple of sweet potatoes (bust them open and fill with butter and brown sugar) or 3) an acorn squash cut in half (microwave it for three minutes and it will cut easily) with butter and salt and pepper or 4) frozen Steak Fries. (Naturally you will adjust baking times appropriately.) So the main part of your meal will bake unattended while you lie down or fix the baby or read the mail or whatever. All you need to do then is open a can of green beans or put one of those steamer packages of green peas in the microwave. Use foil in all your baking dishes and pans so cleanup will be minimal. Other suggestions: frozen chicken pies, frozen lasagna, frozen stuffed peppers, a cheese omelet with frozen French fries and hot buttered toast.. Will any of this get you known as a gourmet cook? No, but it will provide a hot dinner during a stressful time in your life.

                        1. r
                          RGC1982 Sep 25, 2008 08:06 AM

                          You need a slow cooker. Pot roast, BBQ beef or pork, come out great. I find that only chicken breast comes out rubbery.

                          You might also need a pressure cooker -- that cuts cooking time when you use it.

                          1. Spends Rent on Food Sep 25, 2008 06:25 AM

                            Since time isn't on our side, now is the time to cook good, simple food. It's not the time to experiment & get fancy. I've tried some elaborate dinners since our son was born (three months ago) and I ended up exhausted, and eating it cold.

                            1.Fresh steamed veggies every night: Since we sterilize bottles every day, I've adjusted the schedule so I do it just before we cook. After sterilizing our son's bottles in a stock pot, I dump out 90% of the boiling water - leaving a small amount in the bottom to steam veggies (I usually add salt, pepper and olive oil to anything I'm steaming). This only takes 5-10 minutes.

                            2. Roast a chicken on Sunday eat it again on monday- since we're also trying to save on $$ the most affordable way to go is buy a whole chicken throw it in the roaster pan with cut up peppers, onions, potatoes ... depending on the size of the chicken you'll get at least two meals out of this.

                            3. Baked mac & cheese, baked ziti, rice, or pasta - cook big batches of starch once a and use it up throughout the week with your steamed veggies and leftover chicken.

                            4. Pan seared steak (or pork chop) - if you do it right it can be done in minutes, and can become your weekly splurge.

                            1. The Dairy Queen Sep 25, 2008 03:06 AM

                              I agree with the others that a crock-pot is a great friend, especially now that it's starting to get more winter-y.

                              A couple of super easy ones we like if you can let them sit about 7 hours:

                              Flank steak+jar of salsa+bag of corn+can of black beans (rinsed). Toss it all in the slow cooker in the morning and, voila, dinner by 6pm.

                              1 sweet potato (cut into 1/2 inch chunks)+ 1lb pork loin (cut into 1 inch chunks)+canned of diced green tomatoes with chiles+1 garlic clove (minced)+1/4 cup orange juice+2 scallions (green parts only, chopped)+1/2 tsp salt+1/4 tsp cumin+1/4 tsp black pepper. Throw it all in the crockpot in the morning and voila dinner by the end of the day. At the last 5 mins, stir in 1 1/2 TBSP fresh lime juice and about 2 TBSP fresh cilantro.

                              Pork chops+ 2 jars of sauerkraut+jar of apple sauce (we actually use sliced apples, but you're short on timy, so go for the short cut)+ sweet potatoes, cut into chunks+salt pepper to taste. Throw it all in the crockpot in the morning (make sure the sweet potatoes are on the bottom) and you'll have dinner by the time you're done. I like to add cinnamon if it's not in the applesauce or if you're using apples. You have to like sauerkraut, though (we do).

                              If you spray your crock with nonstick spray before you throw everything in, clean-up is easier.

                              Also, a friend of mine does this. I don't know if it would work for you. But once a week, she and a neighbor trade off cooking. Say, you take Monday and your neighbor takes Tuesday. On Monday, you cook twice as much of whatever you're doing (say, 2 roast chickens instead of just one) and take half over to her house. On Tuesday, she cooks and brings dinner to your house.

                              Good luck!

                              ~TDQ

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                c
                                CeeBee Sep 29, 2008 08:51 AM

                                I did the flank steak/jar of salsa thing over the weekend, but I added peppers and onions to make it into a fajita-like mixture. The steak fell apart when I tried to take it out...it was sooooo tender. I'm adding that to a regular rotation.
                                I may try the pork loin one this weekend!

                              2. irisav Sep 25, 2008 02:05 AM

                                Basic pasta sauce (shouldn't take any longer than the time it takes to cooked your pasta to al dente):
                                2 cloves garlic finely chopped
                                400g (1 pound?) tin tomatoes
                                1 - 2 tsp salt (to taste)
                                pepper (to taste)

                                Saute garlic over medium heat add tomato, salt and pepper (pasta cooking in the meantime) and cook over med-low heat until pasta is al dente. Drain pasta and add to pan you are cooking the sauce in and mix until pasta is coated. Serve with some good quality grated parmesan.

                                This sauce is incredibly flexible for instance as you saute the garlic you can add 1 - 3 anchovy fillets and saute until they dissolve before adding tomato (although go easy on the salt if you use anchovies)
                                or
                                when you saute garlic toss in some chopped pancetta (or good quality bacon) and again lightly fry before adding tomato etc.

                                Adding dried chilli flakes to any of these recipes is also excellent.

                                1. j
                                  JennyHunter Sep 24, 2008 07:03 PM

                                  My son is almost three and I still struggle - and really miss cooking great meals. Things do get better, but i have also allowed myself some short cuts that I would have been appalled by before I had a child. For example, I find myself buying the pre-cooked brown rice in a bag (Uncle Bens or Trader Joes) that you just nuke for 90 seconds. Ridiculous, I know - but sometimes I can only manage a meat and veggie and the rice comes in handy. And it's really not bad. I also sometimes cheat and get the chopped brocolli, etc.. off the salad bar to make a sir fry. It saves the chopping and prep time.

                                  I agree with the rotisserie chicken suggestion. You can get lots of quick meals w/o having to cook the chicken. Tacos, chicken salad, white bean and chick chili, etc...

                                  I also try the best to make double the portion when appropriate. For example, last night I made Cooks Illustrated Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce. I was able to freeze half of the sauce for an easy dinner in a few weeks. This is something i never really did before but really try to do now.

                                  Another tip - when I but meat I will buy extra too. I will make a great marinade once, and then marinate 2- 3 pc of the meat and freeze in large ziploc bags. Then when I am ready to use I just take them out of the freezer and thaw. They continue to marinate while thawing and I don't have to start from scratch every time. I did this a few weeks ago with the large flank steak from Costco that I cut into 4 dinner size cuts.. I made a great korean/bulgogi style marinade. Then on busy nights, the marinating, chopping, etc.. is already done. All I had to do was throw it on the grill. I also do this with Pork Tenderloins with a chipotle marinade.

                                  Another thing I did that could be frozen was take chicken breasts, stuff them with boursin cheese and wrap them with proscuitto - into like little bundles. I wrap them individually and freeze. Then you can just take out how many you need to saute in the evening. I will make 12-15 of these at a time. Again, you only have to make the effort once! These are good b/c you can pass them off to company if you need to.

                                  And think about using a panini press if you don't already. It will elevate the plain sandwich on those really tired nights!

                                  Good luck. I'll let you know if I remember any other short cuts!!! Hang in there :)

                                  1. t
                                    torty Sep 24, 2008 02:49 PM

                                    If your husband is able to be in the kitchen with you (not multi tasking elsewhere) you might consider interactive cooking meals. What I mean are things like cooking protein and veggies in a flavorful broth at the table (electric skillet works), rice in the cooker or dump in noodles and have soup as the second course. That way other than a little prep, your are interacting during the "cooking" and the eating process- I precious thing in your stressful situation. If you don't do the soup course, the broth can get you started on a quick soup the next day which will become attractive as the weather cools. Fondue is along those lines. Also "build your own" tacos, burritos, baked potatoes and pizzas. You can bother prep and then share the assembly. "Breakfast for dinner" can also be a comforting quick meal. The "appetizer" dinner is fun too- salumi, olives, cheeses, bread, sliced tomatoes, marinated veggies. Pick and choose and chat- virtually no prep.

                                    1. g
                                      girlwonder88 Sep 24, 2008 02:11 PM

                                      Argh, the agony! I'm in the same boat, and it's tough. I will say that it will get better (at least it did in my experience, and my kids are 11 and 2 now)-you'll get more used to the baby thing, the work juggle, you'll get more sleep.....but for now, it's so tough. I find it's easier to get back into cooking when your kids get to be toddlers because they like to come in and watch and help and taste, so you don't feel like you're neglecting them or trying to squeeze it into that precious nap time.

                                      Yeah, the crockpot. Do it, esp now that it's starting to be fall and good crock pot weather (depending where you live, I guess). I have an apple butter pork tenderloin in mine right now, which required almost no prep. I made apple butter earlier in the week, and so that was done. If the meal is good, I'll post the recipe. Pot roast, spaghetti sauces, soup-all wonderful in the crockpot. We love beans, so do those a lot. I also always, always freeze at least a quart of whatever I cook when I make a meal like that, as it makes such a difference to have a freezer stocked up when you get to one of those exhausted days, and saves you from resorting to pizza delivery.

                                      Do you work every day or do you have some days off completely? I work three days a week, and tend to do a lot of cooking on my days home. I do very little housecleaning, as the cooking is much more of a priority for me, so need to get a housecleaner soon. I find if I can cook a good meal three to five nights a week, then the rest fills in with leftovers, maybe a meal out, a meal with friends.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: girlwonder88
                                        v
                                        Val Sep 24, 2008 03:25 PM

                                        Since the subject of crockpot cooking came up, I'll offer this link to site for a woman who is doing 365 days of crockpot cooking...I did try one of the recipes and it was good...will probably try more....she's amusing if nothing else...for what it's worth, here's the link:
                                        http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

                                        1. re: Val
                                          c
                                          CeeBee Sep 25, 2008 06:25 AM

                                          I've been following that site for a few weeks now. I like the vareity of dishes she's done (I guess when you vow to use the crock for a year straight, you have to have variety).
                                          I do like her writing style, too. Quite amusing.

                                          1. re: CeeBee
                                            s
                                            shellyesq Sep 25, 2008 07:52 AM

                                            I'm enjoying that blog, too. I have the stuffed peppers from her blog cooking in the crockpot as we speak. We've had them before and enjoyed them. The good thing about the crockpot is you can prepare everything when the kid is sleeping or someone else is around to keep an eye on the kid and keep everything it in the fridge until morning.

                                            Cooking Light magazine also has a column of recipes that are fast, and I've usually found their recipes to be good and pretty healthy.

                                            1. re: shellyesq
                                              v
                                              Val Sep 26, 2008 04:36 PM

                                              A co-worker brought stuffed pepper leftovers for lunch today....and I about died, it smelled so good...must try her crockpot method...thanks for the rec! The recipe I tried from her website was with eggplant and was Indian, I believe, both things I just go nuts over. She likes Indian food too, I've noticed.

                                        2. re: girlwonder88
                                          LaLa Sep 24, 2008 05:15 PM

                                          how did it go?

                                          http://stores.ebay.com/The-Slippery-M...

                                        3. withalonge Sep 24, 2008 01:25 PM

                                          I feel your pain... I work 75% schedule w/ a 21m.o. at home... busy times! we try to make grocery shopping somewhat of a family event on the weekends... hitting the farmer's market to get some inspiration for dinners for the next week. I'm hoping this will get my daughter interested in different foods in years to come.

                                          anyway, we usually pick a protein or two and try and cook them sunday evening... using the leftovers throughout the week.. and if we're grilling chicken say, I'd cook a couple extra peices and have caesar salad with chicken later in the week.. or tacos or whatever. we try to keep it healthy, and simple. I also subscribe to the CI "sister" magazine "cook's country"... decent, well-tested recipes.. and quicker to prepare.. I pull out the "30 min" recipe cards and shuffle them and have my hubbie pick one or two a week... I do modify the recipes, but they are a good starting point.

                                          good luck!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: withalonge
                                            l
                                            LauraGrace May 16, 2009 06:55 AM

                                            I think Cook's Country is much better for the average busy family than CI.

                                            There. I've said it.

                                            ;)

                                          2. kc girl Sep 24, 2008 12:59 PM

                                            Buy a roasted chicken from Costco or a good supermarket. It is suprisingly cost-effective.
                                            Add Ore-Ida instant mashed potatoes made with milk.
                                            Steam up some broccoli in the microwave.

                                            Also, find sauces and gravies that you like the taste of and make up double batches. Keep in serving size containers in the freezer (zip-lock bags work well if securely closed and not overfilled). A sauce can change a piece of protein into a delicious meal.

                                            Another easy recipe I like to make with store-bought roasted chicken is green bean and chicken salad.

                                            2 or 3 14 oz.packages of frozen whole green beans (or haricot verts)
                                            1 store-bought roasted chicken
                                            Olive oil, garlic, dried Italian spices (or herbes de Provence), salt and pepper.

                                            Add oil and spices to a very large stainless steel bowl on the cooktop. Heat a little to infuse the flavors into the oil (do not let it bubble) low heat. Tear the chicken into strips and add to bowl. Add greens beans. Stir (easy stir with a big spatula).

                                            If the green beans are frozen, slit the bag and place in shallow dish, microwave for about a minute to defrost them. Time may vary, but don't cook them through, just defrost.

                                            Healthy and delicious. And, keeps well in the fridge up to four days.

                                            Add some sourdough rolls or garlic bread.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: kc girl
                                              fresnohotspot Oct 4, 2008 10:16 AM

                                              In a pinch, the supermarket roast chicken is a great alternative and time saver. Some stores have great setups and put out a superb product. Leftovers from the chicken make excellent sandwiches the next day.

                                            2. k
                                              Kai Sep 24, 2008 11:55 AM

                                              I know your pain! Full time working Mum here too with a toddler. Our go-to middle of the week meal is: two cans of oil-packed tuna, mixed in with just-cooked white or brown rice, chopped vegetables that have been par-boiled 2 minutes (green beans, sugar snaps, carrots, zucchini...whatever's in your fridge), a can of mixed beans, some chives/peashoots/sprouts, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 2 Tblsp. of soysauce. It's good cold as well and one of us usually takes it for lunch.

                                              Assuming you have a rice cooker....this is 25 minutes, from start to finish. Rice goes on, boil water for the veggies that need par-boiling, slice and dice everything, open up the can of beans...and quite tasty for a super fast no-brainer

                                              1. Ruth Lafler Sep 24, 2008 11:23 AM

                                                Everyone has different tastes, so I'd start by thinking about what you and your hubby like to eat and what you'd like to cook, and then try to identify recipes you can modify and other ways you can make that happen quickly and easily.

                                                As Ceebee said, when you do have time to cook, make extra of some basic components (grilled or roasted veggies, meat or chicken, carmelized onions) that you can use later in the week (or even freeze and have for weeks). Stock your pantry and fridge with good-quality convenience products -- by that I mean good canned tomatoes and/or pasta sauce, dried pasta, maybe some quick-cooking grains, chicken broth, your favorite condiments, some good cooking cheeses (parm, goat cheese, mozzerella, etc.).

                                                You can take the same ingredients and have a different dish simply by changing the seasoning. For example, last week I had some ground buffalo, so one night I made taco salad (cooked the meat with some onions, garlic and diced squash, added some jarred salsa I had in the fridge and some cumin and put it on a pileof lettuce with some tortilla chips). The next night I cooked basically the same ingredients but used canned crushed tomatoes and some Italian herbs and served it over pasta with fresh grated parm. Neither meal took more than 20 minutes door to plate.

                                                1. t
                                                  tzurriz Sep 24, 2008 11:05 AM

                                                  I have a 9 mo old, and am a WAHM, so I know exactly where you are coming from.

                                                  We eat a lot of pasta. Pasta with veggies, pasta with sausage, pasta with cheeses, whatever. Not necessarily Italian, or even in any way traditional anything, but just pasta with whatever looks good in the fridge that day.

                                                  I also make soups a lot, and the crock pot is my friend.

                                                  Hang in there momma, you're doing great. And pretty soon, the babe will be eating food to, remember you don't have to feed them anything special. He/she will be most happy just eating what you eat.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: tzurriz
                                                    kc girl Sep 24, 2008 12:45 PM

                                                    Yes, the crock pot !
                                                    It has been given a bad rap because of uninspiring recipes and recipes that require a lot of prep. I have found that many meat dishes are enhanced by the slow cook method; the meats get more tender, the sauce gets more intense, deep flavor. And, it's easier clean up than slow cooking in a pot on the stove or oven roasting. You'll see.

                                                    Maybe start a thread on finding incredible crock pot dishes. I have made delicious Pozole, beef short ribs in spaghetti sauce, tri-tip roast, cassoulet, bbq chicken, pork with chili verde sauce, corned beef, and French onion soup. But, there are some really incredible recipes to be found.

                                                    You'd be surprised how a simple jar of commerical spaghetti sauce or enchilada sauce or chili verde sauce can be wonderfully improved in flavor by adding braising beef ribs or pot roast and a few choice herbs or spices. Four or five hours later, the juices blend and the spices infuse into a sauce that tastes like an Italian mama from Tuscany came to your kitchen to cook for you.

                                                    Get some pre-made polenta at the grocery store. It is in the deli section in a cylindrical roll. (Careful, some pre-made polenta is nasty tasting). Cut into discs and spoon over it a stewed meat and sauce.

                                                    I have found that the little $1 packages of regular flavor Ore-Ida instant potatoes are great when made with half milk.

                                                    Bisquick is wonderful also. So easy for a homemade taste. Make chicken and dumplings with crock pot and top with Bisquick bisquits.

                                                    Steamed veggies are fast and easy in the microwave (though some people don't care for the radiation of a microwave). Broccoli is easy prep, and Trader Joe's has inexpensive packages of pre-cut veggies.

                                                    And, having the right tools in the kitchen make meal prep much easier. So, when you get a chance, invest in some quality step-saving products like mandolin, food processor, micro-wave steamer, etc.

                                                    If you want my recipes, I will post. But, a thread on crock pot recipes might already exist on the website. Choose those that appeal to you taste.

                                                    Go to the small print "Search this board" to the direct right of the words "Home Cooking" at the top of this board.

                                                    See, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/559697

                                                    Open http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/552986 and do a word search (Ctrl-F) for "crock pot" to find the one.

                                                    See also, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/495121

                                                  2. v
                                                    Val Sep 24, 2008 11:03 AM

                                                    Welcome! What are your weekends like? If you can cook up a large roaster chicken on Sunday for dinner, then use it for leftovers in a variety of ways during the week, that might help you...after your roast chicken dinner on Sunday, you could do chicken chili or enchiladas, maybe chicken soup or stew, stir-fry, etc. during the week. That might be one way to tackle the problem.

                                                    1. c
                                                      CeeBee Sep 24, 2008 10:58 AM

                                                      A few things I do:
                                                      - next time you have the grill fired up, grill a mix of veggies (I usually do mushrooms, onions, peppers and sweet potatoes that I've marinated in something tasty). I then use those all week...some get chopped up and added to an omlette, some go into a quick pasta sauce, some go on a sandwich with goat cheese.
                                                      - make something bigger on one of your days off and plan to use it up all week...a roasted chicken turns into soup, empanadas, chicken salad, bbq chicken sandwiches; chili gets eaten as is, then put over pasta one night, then put over nachos another
                                                      - i cook breakfast for dinner OFTEN. even a frozen waffle and some eggs are better than most takeout

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: CeeBee
                                                        kc girl Sep 24, 2008 01:19 PM

                                                        In stormy winter, you can also roast veggies in the oven.
                                                        Simple cut 2 red and yellow peppers, 3 or 4 zucchini, 1 large red onion, 12 sections of garlic clove (about 2 whole cloves, peeled).

                                                        (I found the best garlic peeler is this style (open ended silicone tube)
                                                        See, http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/984302/index.cfm?clg=3&bnrid=3181401&cm_ven=NexTag&cm_cat=Shopping&cm_pla=ctlfvtgar&cm_ite=Garlic%20Peeler

                                                        )

                                                        place veggies In a large stainless steel bowl (16 Qt., (aprox. 17 in. diam.)
                                                        (see, http://www.chefdepot.net/mixingbowls.htm

                                                        )

                                                        add 1/4 Cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste (1/2 tsp ??? each)

                                                        Line a jelly roll cake pan with tin foil (just helps with clean up)
                                                        (See, http://www.target.com/Jelly-Roll-Pans-Bakeware/b?ie=UTF8&node=15756991

                                                        )

                                                        Spread veggies in single layer on the pan.

                                                        Roast at 350 degrees for about an hour.

                                                        (recipes vary in temp and time)

                                                        Have a look at these

                                                        http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/oven-roasted-peppers-and-onions-recipe.htm

                                                        http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,1826,145170-239192,00.html

                                                        http://teriskitchen.com/vegetable/pep...
                                                        "There are so many uses for roasted peppers. It can be a side-dish. It can be used as a sauce for pasta. It makes an easy and delicious appetizer when topped on Bruchetta or Toasted Pita Triangles. It is heaven in a sandwich of crusty Italian, French or Pita bread with a good sharp cheese, such as Provolone or Asiago. It can be used in place of the peppers in the Italian Sausage Sandwiches."

                                                        1. re: kc girl
                                                          MMRuth Sep 24, 2008 02:52 PM

                                                          I like to make leftover roasted vegetables - or even just leftover vegetables - into soup. Quick and easy - add some chicken broth, simmer a bit, puree, season, maybe add some fresh herbs and some cream/milk, and you're done.

                                                          1. re: MMRuth
                                                            l
                                                            lexpatti Oct 2, 2008 02:37 PM

                                                            OMG, the best soup I ever made was with a mix of roasted vegies (left overs), then just as you said, chix broth, puree, season - then I added small cubed leftover steak. It was the only chunk in a creamy vegie soup. I couldn't believe how good this was - I don't make soup that often, not my thing although it's becoming my thing. :-)

                                                            1. re: lexpatti
                                                              t
                                                              The Old Gal Oct 3, 2008 08:25 AM

                                                              So true. My granddaughter (age 9) had just completed a week's course at Sur la Tab. To show off her new skills she cooked a dinner for her family. One of the recipes was roasted veggies to include a butternut squash and a proportionate amount of other veggies.
                                                              Both her mother and I made a good amount of soup from those . Simple soup from canned chicken broth and some herbs. It was great.

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