6 month old baby, single mom, want fast healthy meals
i used to love to cook. but with a baby and full time job, i can barely tie my shoes. i don't even have an afternoon to cook a lot of stuff and freeze, unless i hire a babysitter. any ideas for me and my crazy busy life?
Crockpot pot roast - throw everything in and let it cook on low setting all day
Taco soup - ground beef w/onion, thrown in cans of corn, pinto beans, diced tomato, beef broth, 1 pkg taco seasoning
Fruit chef salad - lettuce, deli turkey, mandarin oranges, strawberries, pecans, fruity dressing
My three secret weapons for fast, healthy meals: canned soups (especially Amy's Organic), eggs, and turkey or chicken sausage. (Especially the chicken sausages that come pre-cooked). In the winter soup is especially easy and tasty - add some protein to good store-bought soup and you have a great meal! For example:
Good canned black bean soup (we like Amy's Organic), topped with a fried or poached egg and salsa/ hot sauce.
Canned bean soup (such as tuscan bean, white bean, minestrone) plus chicken sausage that has been browned in a pan and sliced. For example, tonight we had tuscan bean soup with some garlic & red pepper chicken sausage from Whole Foods.
Baked potatoes (we usually half-cook in the microwave and then finish in the oven, because we never think far enough ahead to bake them in the oven) split and topped with store-bought turkey chili.
Turkey or chicken bratwurst with mustard, crusty rolls and a side of store-bought slaw.
Italian turkey sausage, cooked, sliced or crumbled, and added to jarred pasta sauce. Makes good leftovers.
Store-bought rotisserie chicken can be shredded and made into chicken quesadillas (tortillas, cheese, salsa) or chicken panini (with pesto, cheese, maybe some jarred artichoke hearts or roasted red peppers).
Ugh, I've been there (single parent previously, now married again but with two children and a job).
I think the first thing to remember is that you don't need to spend your time with your baby playing-especially as your baby gets older, they find doing stuff with you more interesting than toys anyway, and it's ok, even if you work full time, to hang out with your baby while you get stuff done (I know when I was single and working full time, I had to get over feeling bad about not spending every awake-child moment doing child lead activities).
So, if you have energy to cook one night, put baby in high chair next to you and cook, talk about what you're doing, hand over a potato or whatever for baby to look at and touch and even gnaw on, just get into the process. Is your baby eating people food yet? Making stuff for both of you kills two birds with one stone-and maybe you'll even get baby fed during meal prep.
As far as real practical tips :)-let's see, I love my crockpot and would recommend the "a year of crockpotting" blog. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
(Oddly enough, for our foodie family, the most-raved about thing I've made recently was a crock pot recipe that was a pound of whole italian sausages, a jar of spaghetti sauce, a sliced onion and a sliced green pepper thrown in the crockpot, cooked on low all afternoon, and served on hoagie rolls with mozarella-it was really, really good and took about 5 minutes of prep time)
Roasting a big bunch of veggies is also really simple and can give you meals for the rest of the week. It only takes a few minutes of prep time, and some of the veggies can be pureed for baby, too (I might throw those in a separate pan so you don't have to leave seasoning off of the ones you're going to eat). I made these tonight with my two year old-she had fun trying to eat the raw squash, and I cooked about a week's worth of vegetables in fifteen minutes of prep time.
See if you can trade food with a friend in a similar situation-take turns cooking for each other (I'll cook Tues if you cook Weds, for instance).
I always hate the advice to get stuf done on the weekends while baby naps, because really, you should take any chance you get to sit down, put your feet up, and take care of yourself.
Trader Joe's has great frozen prepared food, simmer sauces, etc :)
We go through stages where we eat a lot of quesadillas-good sharp cheddar, salsa, leftover meat or drained canned beans, avocado. I always cook them in a nonstick pan with no oil.
It will get better! I promise!
Fried rice is a quick go-to meal for me, and works with just about any vegetables. I dice an onion and fry it with garlic, brocolli, carrots, cauliflower, sweet pepper, whatever...add some soy sauce, black pepper, etc or go with a store bought stir fry seasoning. Once the veggies are cooked, I add the rice to the wok and heat through. Sometimes I add a scrambled egg. The good thing about this is you can use rice that's a couple days old (as long as it's been refrigerated) and it's a good lunch meal as well to take to work.
Also, shepherd's pie. (Ok CHers, please don't shoot me for this. She asked for QUICK!). Brown ground beef with a packet of sloppy joe seasoning and some tomato paste. Layer on bottom of a baking dish, top with a layer of frozen corn and instant mashed potatoes, dot with butter, bake 20 minutes. Not so sure how healthy the instant potatoes are, but the rest of it is decent and very easy.
Good luck...I'm sure it must be hard. Hang in there!!