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How do you manage to get dinner on the table?

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Hi there, I'm new to the boards but am getting lots of recipe inspiration! My question is for those of you who work and aren't home until evening. How do you manage to get dinner cooked and on the table? My husband doesn't get home until around 6pm, and I'm an hour later than that and get home at 7pm. We have an 8 month old baby that is going to bed shortly after, and I just haven't figured out how dinner fits in! Tips? Thoughts? Advice?

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  1. I try to do as much prep work when I have spare time as possible, so I can just throw together the pre-prepared ingredients. For example, if I was making fajitas, I'd slice the peppers and onions and put them in a container in the fridge, as well as slice up the chicken. Then when I get home, all I have to do is throw a cast iron pan on high heat and cook everythign up really quickly and assemble add-ons like avocado and sour cream/warm tortillas.

    There's also the option to slow-cook things in a crock pot, and have your hubby boil some potatoes, or make rice or a salad before you get home, then there's minimal scrambling and you have a nice leisurely meal.

    1. It's not easy! Have you thought about using a slow cooker? You can throw all the ingredients in in the a.m. before you leave (or even the night before and refrigerate), set the dial and come home to dinner.

      Otherwise, I'd try to plan out menus for the week on the weekend - do your shopping on Sat. or Sun. and have a gameplan for how your husband can start things when he gets home - who is picking up your baby? If it's him, this would be harder.

      Cook on the weekends - big batch items can be set aside for the week, and/or frozen for future use. Don't know what your tastes are, but you could also try cooking up quantities of dried beans and using them in different ways during the week - ditto for poached chicken breasts or similar items that are versatile.

      If you give us more ideas about what you like to eat, maybe we can offer more specifics?

      GG
      http://www.semisweetonline.com

      1. Here are the search results on this board for "quick dinners", using the advanced search tab to cover all years. http://www.chow.com/search?query=%22Q...

        You might also use keywords like "fast" and "meals". I know that there have also been threads on recipes using (5 or} fewer ingredients and a lot of those are quick to prepare. Another approach is to cook (and search the board for) on weekends, making versatile things like roasts and stocks which can be used in various ways throughout the week, and frozen for the future.

        1. So this is silly, but are slow cookers fire hazards? I've always been leery of going off to work all day and leaving it on but I know it would really be a lifesaver for us.
          My husband will have the baby, so I likely can't count on him to be a whole lot of help in the cooking department on my workdays.
          I work 4 days a week, so I have weekends and one weekday (varies) off.
          We are not too picky. My husband doesn't care for onions or tomatoes but he eats around them since he likes the flavors they add to dishes. Neither of us like mushrooms. We love Mexican, seafood, Italian (although I can't eat dairy or soy right now due to breastfeeding...but that's another post in itself!), typical American fare, etc.

          3 Replies
          1. re: mandypants

            I wondered the same thing, got my slow cooker a couple of weeks ago and have made a couple of things on Sunday at high heat.

            The side of the cooker doesn't get very warm even at high so I think it is safe,no more dangerous than leaving your coffee maker plugged in. I like being able to make 3-4 pounds of food at a time, then later in the week I can just pop a portion in the microwave.

            1. re: mandypants

              i've left my slow cooker on all alone several times and have never had an issue. it's new, tho, a few months old, but it's not an expensive one. Faberware.

              I second the tips to cook big meals and then apportion them out into bags or tupperwares, freeze for future meals, put a container in your fridge or in the sink even before you leave for work in the a.m., and you have dinner ready to just heat up and add a salad or pasta to when you get home.

              1. re: mandypants

                I am a firefighter and slowcookers shouldn't be a fire hazard (unless there are problems with the wiring, etc.) It's about placement and contents of the slowcooker as well. As long as the slowcooker is full of food and cooking away, it should not get hot enough to cause a fire; however, you should be conscious about where your place the slowcooker so that it isn't in contact with items that are combustible like tea towels, curtains, etc. I use a slow cooker all the time (especially when we are at home sleeping) and use either a slow cooker with a built in timer or I have bought one of those light timers ( the ones you usually use to have your livingroom lights or Christmas lights turn off or on automatically) and hooked the slowcooker up to . That way I don't have to worry about it and most importantly the food doesn't overcook. That should help solve that worry about slowcookers.

              2. Never had kids and always worked freelance, but my husband had a standard job and got home about 6. But we rarely had dinner until 8 because we liked to cook. Would it be impossible for you to eat later, when you wouldn't have the baby to deal with. Maybe have some kind of easy first course--soup, cheese/crackers or such--to tide you over until mealtime. That way, with baby tucked in, you can relax and spend time together while cooking. I am totally off base?

                1 Reply
                1. re: escondido123

                  I thought the same thing. Might not work forever, but might be a good way to ease into a routine of cooking while the babe is still young and can be tucked up in bed while dinner simmers away.

                2. For us, its simple preparations and having items on hand that can be used for more than one dish. Tomato sauce, salsa, miso, chicken stock (even the boxed kind) etc.

                  Menu planning is the best way, but we rarely have time, so we plan the week by deciding which proteins we will have (chicken mon., fish tues. beef wed). Then when we shop we see which veg looks good and go from there. We only shop "day of" if we are making fish.

                  But keeping the preparations simple is the key. Also, we have a veggie steamer that works great in the microwave. I have found this item saves a ton of time and clean up. Often, I steam some broccoli and carrots and toss it with a vinegar based-salad dressing (sometimes home made, sometimes not)-done in 60 seconds.

                  1. We are in a very similar situation. My husband and I both work over an hour drive from home, my daughter and granddaughter are home much earlier, however, with school work for daughter the workload is hard for her to be much help. I usually get home around 6:15 or so, and hubby arrives home around 7:30 or 8:00. I no longer wait dinner for him as it was driving me nuts eating at 8:30 or later. I still have trouble getting dinner on the table much before 8.

                    I purchased a triple pot slow cooker a couple months ago, and if I get organized it works quite well. I leave it on low for the day and come home to great home-cooked meals.

                    One of the tips I can give you is PLANNING. I sit down every Sunday morning and plan out our dinner menu for the week. I go through cookbooks, magazines, flyers, Chowhound, etc. to find inspiration, I also look at what our timing is like during the week on certain days and adjust from there. Then I make a list of what I need to purchase for each meal and do the shopping on Sunday night when it is quieter (then make adjustments if I couldn’t get something on my list).

                    I try to buy pre-cut fresh veggies whenever possible, and tend to keep things on the simpler side during the week. We often have: chicken breasts (even from frozen) in mushroom soup, served over rice with steamed veggies on the side (this takes about 45 minutes even from frozen – I just pop it in the oven when I get home – 350 F, and then make the rice and veggies; if you put this together in the fridge your hubby could probably get it in the oven after he gets home probably would take an hour from the fridge). I have substituted pork chops in this recipe but prefer to brown them first, so I don’t make this ahead of time. I will also spend a whole day making Bolognese sauce, chili, soups, etc. and freeze ahead of time for future use (this means you have to remember to take them out to thaw – which I am terrible at).

                    I agree with the fajitas – they are super simple to make when everything is prepped ahead of time. Same with stir fries. You can cook the rice the night (or a few days before and refrigerate), do all your prep ahead of time on your day off, marinade the meat in the fridge, then quickly cook it up and reheat the rice when you get home.

                    One of the men that I work with is a slow-cooking guru! He and his wife use their slow cooker at least 5 days a week. They do all the prep the night before, put everything in an old ice cream pail in the fridge overnight, set up the slow cooker in the morning and come home to dinner on time every night! The have teenagers so they get them to add things when they get home from school – like potatoes, etc. that only need to be in the last hour or so of cooking.

                    Hope this helps, I will keep an eye on this thread to see if I can get some great tips for our family as well.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: nsstampqueen

                      FWIW, I dont' take my soups, stews and chili out ahead of time to thaw. I usually freeze them in heavy freezer proof ziploc bags, stick the bag in the microwave on defrost for long enough that I can get the frozen block of whatever out of the bag (two minutes or so) then put the frozen block of whatever directly into a pot on the top of the stove on low heat. I will sometimes add just a little water: helps with the thawing while cooking process and, in addition, I find that the freezing process sometimes intensifies the flavors (with my soups especially for some reason) and the water helps even it out. (if you do this, start with a very small amount, ie a quarter cup or so, of water, and taste first).

                      If you are able to cook even one or two soups or stews during the weekend or your day off, this can be your weeknight supper with bread and either a salad or perhaps a plate of roasted veggies. (just peel various root veggies if peeling is needed/desired, season with salt and pepper, toss with a little olive oil, and stick in oven. Do this first if you are serving them to give them time to roast).

                      in the summer, dinner will often just be a big salad and bread. easy to put together at the last minute.

                      1. re: susancinsf

                        Soup and stew are great for cook-ahead meals, but unless they're very chunky they're tricky for babies and toddlers to eat. Eventually you can use a piece of bread to sop up the brothier/creamier soups for a little one to eat, or use rice for the same purpose, but that's definitely advanced self-feeding . . . of course, the OP didn't say whether she wanted to try and feed her baby the same thing she and her husband were eating.

                        EDIT: this wasn't specifically in response to you, susancinsf -- just a general thought on the prevailing make-soups-and-stews vibe on this thread.

                    2. four generations of my family had the same answer for you: Leftovers! Cook once a week.

                      1. In addition to the great advice you've already received, I'd offer encouragement to use your lunch hour to grocery shop. Obviously, not everybody has grocery stores near their office, so this might not work. But I've found that I can use that time to pick up that night's dinner materials, or even ingredients for the rest of the week. If the ingredients are refrigerated, you might be able to use your office's fridge/freezer until you leave for the day.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: LaPomme

                          I keep a cooler in the car year-round.

                        2. I stay up late (until around 11:30 or so), so I often get going on cooking the next night's dinner at 9:00, after kids are sleeping. It is actually sort of relaxing. I will make a batch of roasted vegetables at the beginning of the week and this way, I can just heat some up throughout the week. Or I will make a baked ziti (or something like that) and just reheat it the next day.

                          If you are going to have something like a stir-fry, as already mentioned, do all the prep the night before. Get a rice cooker. Your husband can start it at 6 when he gets home.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: valerie

                            Agreed. I'm retired now but over 35 yrs of working, almost always reheated something for dinner, then later in the evening cooked most or all of the next night's meal, and more. It takes very little extra time or effort to double the portions you are preparing, so you can freeze or refrigerate the extra for future meals.

                          2. I'm a big believer in leftovers! I cook a lot - A LOT - over the weekend, so I serve different leftovers until Tuesday or so. Winter cooking is particularly easy, as stews and soups are very easily cooked in large quantity, divided into smaller containers, and frozen for later reheating. I also adore my crockpot - to quote the ron popeil, 'set it and forget it'!. Also, don't be afraid of relying on frozen food when need be - french fries, chicken nuggets, and pizza are NOT the worst things in the world. Breakfast for dinner is another oldie but goodie - scrambled eggs, french toast, omelets, and pancakes can all be whipped up relatively quickly.

                            1. I do so many of these same things so I won't repeat.

                              I use my freezer for "pre-prepped" ingredients that I prep on weekends. It really saves me from having a boring weeknight dinner! Especially when I have things like fresh herbs in ice cube size blocks, individual servings of chicken breast, frozen lemon zest, blanched veggies, black beans, homemade sauces, etc.

                              I take 15 minutes in the morning to pull out my dinner makings from the freezer, then I pull out the pantry items (rice, pasta, canned whatever, etc) and leave those items on the counter to either remind me what I am doing when I get home...or to leave a note for my SO to "please start a pot of plain rice" or whatever. Dinner is so much easier for me this way.

                              1. You have already gotten some great advice from some great home cooks on this thread. I also find planning ahead, along with some actual cooking ahead on weekends/ days off to be the key to getting dinner on the table. I start the week with a plan, check recipes to make sure I have everything I need, do lots of cooking ahead on weekends, check my menu each night to see if i need to take anything out of the freezer for the next day, use my crockpot a lot!!! We eat a lot or soups,( at least two kinds, home made every week) pasta, casseroles, ethnic foods, ( enchiladas, pot stickers, stir fries, fajitas, tacos....you get the idea) meat loaf, etc. I also do a lot of cook once, eat twice things, like this week, we roasted a turkey for Sunday dinner, and today i made turkey tetrazzini and a turkey wild rice casserole, as well as turkey stock and from that, a homemade turkey minestrone soup. Another quick and easy meal to get on the table is homemade pizza. (I buy fresh or frozen whole wheat pizza dough, but you could also make it yourself ahead of time) ...just shape dough into pizza pan, pour (canned works fine, you're going to season it up anyway) sauce over it, add pre-shredded cheese, and whatever toppings you like, bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, and it's done. Serve with a salad, or not. Also check out "Desperation Dinners" cookbook and website, they have great advice about how to get a meal on the table in 20 minutes or less, and good ideas on how to stock your pantry and freezer to accomplish this, truly not easy feat. Good luck to you!

                                1. We also fine it helps to have a plan for the week - and the bulk of our prep (and even cooking) is done Sunday. We almost always have soup one night a week, which gets made on Sunday, refrigerated, and reheated Wednesday (possibly the hour your husband is home before you he could reheat?). Because there are just two of us, we always have leftover soup, so that gets frozen in a quart container - that, with fresh bread, is a perfect later meal, and can certainly go into the slow cooker on low for several hours - what actually works for us it to put the quart of soup on the slow cooker Sunday, do most of our cooking/prep for the week, clean up, then have dinner all ready.

                                  Also, things like pot roast or pork roast, etc can easily be cooked ahead, then sliced and heated gently to serve later on (I've got a pot roast up for this week).

                                  1. Can't echo the plan ahead bit loud enough. I decide dinners for the week on Saturday or Sunday, shop that day. I know the days I'm home late, so need a quick dinner, and the days I'm home earlier so can spend more time with it. I also know where I can stop, and when, if I want to pick something up mid-week. But the weekend plan and shop is what gets us through!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Splendid Spatula

                                      Yes- backup plan! I always have several individually-wrapped servings of lasagna and burritos in the freezer. One night last week, I got hung up here and was 2-1/2 hours getting home, so instead of the breaded chicken cutlets we'd planned , we saved those for Saturday and my husband pulled a couple of hunks of lasagna out of the freezer instead - they were nuked and ready by the time I got home.

                                    2. As a mom of twins, i can understand how difficult getting dinner on the table is, especially when you still have babies! I'm probably repeating what has already been said, but planning ahead, cooking ahead, using a slow cooker, and having a back-up plan is always a good idea. When my kids were still very small, I would take a few hours during one day ( usually hubby's day off) and fix 2 or 3 meals that I could quickly reheat during the week. Dishes like, chicken pot pie, lasagna, chili, soup, etc. I would also cook a big roast or a couple of chickens and then use the leftovers to make different meals throughout the week. So, leftover pot roast would turn into shredded beef taco, of leftover roast chicken would turn into a chicken stir fry. The best advice I can give you is, don't think that every dinner has to be fancy or creative. It doesn't. Save your experimental cooking days for your days off, when you have plenty of time to enjoy it.
                                      Gook luck!

                                      1. Our favorite "make double and freeze one" dishes: mac and cheese, baked pasta (ziti with tomato sauce and ricotta for example), beef or pork stew. I put these in 8 x 8 Pyrex dishes and defrost in fridge for a few days before baking - to cut baking time.

                                        We also eat a lot of soup. I do many variations on pureed vegetable soups (broccoli, winter squash, celery root, parsnip, carrot) which I freeze without cream, then defrost and add cream just before serving.

                                        I wash lettuce ahead and keep in in plastic bags - with paper towels thrown in to absorb excess moisture it lasts many days. I also make vinaigrette in a big jar and keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. This goes on salads, cooked vegetables, cooked lentils (little green French lentils are ready in 20 minutes), etc.

                                        Consider sandwiches for quick meals: BLTs are great - make extra bacon on Sunday morning and have BLTs on Monday. We have a grooved cast-iron pan that we use for a make-shift panini pan just by stacking another cast iron pan on top. With this we make quick "paninis" using leftover steak, chicken, roast pork, etc, plus cheese, olive spread, hummus, mayo or whatever we have.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Junie D

                                          I was just thinking about panini as a good option. Quick, easy, and doesn't even require real cooking. Also, I think pizza has been mentioned, but sometimes I keep Boboli pizza crust around for a quick and easy dinner. My husband likes his with pepperoni, I like mine with vegetables and my kids like it plain. Not every dinner has to be gourmet....

                                          1. re: Junie D

                                            Stuffed baked potates is also great with extra bacon cooked on the weekend...we do that a a large salad....perfect!

                                          2. I certainly agree with everyone's advice to plan ahead and cook ahead.
                                            I will also add the recommendation of planning a late afternoon snack: my husband and I found ourselves starving and grumpy by the time dinner was ready with a schedule similar to yours. Now we both ensure we have a good snack at 3-4pm so that we enjoy both cooking and eating dinner without suffering from low blood sugar.

                                            1. Thank you all for your responses! So planning ahead and cooking big on days off...seems so simple, not sure why I didn't come up with it on my own. I will be starting that this week, thanks again!!

                                              1. No kids, but I'm the cook and am rarely home before 7-7:30, so casseroles, soups and frittatas make a regular appearance on our table this time of year. In the summer it's a lot of salads and gazpacho/cold soups.

                                                Make double and freeze half for a later dinner. I include a note with cooking time & temp. Uncooked casseroles work really well — just put frozen in the oven, turn the oven on and when the oven is pre-heated set the cooking time. I have never needed to add extra time.

                                                Our freezer currently holds: enchiladas, lasagna, bean dishes, shepherds pie, potato leek soup, sweet potato soup, jambalaya, tamales, pasta sauce, ratatouille, frozen squash, pesto, various greens, and other assorted fruits and vegetables. The squash combines with onion and broth to make a rather decadent soup with a swirl of pesto.

                                                I try to get a lot of prep work done in advance. Greens get washed and stored when I get home from the grocery store. Dinner is a kale, potato and vegetarian chorizo soup, so I'll chop onion for tonight and tomorrow's dinner.

                                                1. In our house, I'd boil it down to two things: meal planning, and cooking for the week when you have time: over the weekend. Planning your meals for the week in advance eliminates the time you may spend asking "what's for dinner?", and you can plan meals that take less active cooking time and allow you to do more in advance. Cooking as much as possible over the weekend allows you to combine prep work like dicing onions, so you only have to do it once for multiple meals.

                                                  During a typical week, we'll have:

                                                  1. Soup and salad: soup from the freezer that we made the previous weekend, salad comes together in 10 minutes including whipping up vinaigrette.
                                                  2. Homemade pizza: dough made on Sunday, you can make 2 or 3 at a time and freeze them, toppings prepped over the weekend, the only thing to do before you eat is roll out the dough, shred the cheese, top it and bake it.
                                                  3. Frittata: uses a lot of the same ingredients that you would top a pizza with, comes together fast and cooks fast.
                                                  4. Some big stew-type dish that we cooked over the weekend and saved leftovers.
                                                  5. Falafel: you can make enough for 6-8 servings and freeze it, then all you need to do is pan-fry it.

                                                  1. We're in much the same boat; our child is a bit older than yours, but on much the same schedule. We didn't even try to eat together until a few months ago. Yes, planning; yes, slow cooker. (In fact, we had chicken cooked with barbecue sauce in the slow cooker for dinner last night on sandwiches; we'll get one more round of sandwiches out of it, as well as a couple of barbecued chicken pizzas.) Anything you can do ahead, do ahead. Anything you can buy prepped, buy prepped. The freezer section is your friend: frozen peas, ready-sliced peppers, and frozen brown rice are all staples in our house. I haven't tried the chopped frozen onions, but my favorite recent discovery is pre-chopped frozen garlic, which I found in my store's organic freezer case. Shredded carrots, pre-cut butternut squash, bagged salads: it might cost a bit more, but your time is worth something, too. (You can do all of this yourself, of course, but if your life is like mine, you don't have time to sit and chop forty cloves of garlic. Ever.)

                                                    In a perfect world I'd make everything from scratch, but in this world I make the best choices I can given my situation. That said, there are certain things I've decided it's worth it to do. I make my own chicken stock in the slow cooker (this is super-easy, btw), do a long-simmering pasta sauce when I can, freeze pesto in the summer. If I'm making meatloaf, I double the recipe and freeze half uncooked (although, for the record, our meatloaf consumption has gone way down, because meatloaf takes a long time to bake); if I'm making soup, half of it goes into a big ziploc in the freezer.

                                                    And, most importantly: I'm sure somebody already said this, but you're not going to be able to cook like you did before you had the baby if you want to all eat together. Go easy on yourself! Yeah, we have chicken marsala night or homemade meatloaf night, but we also have frozen pizza night and tuna melt night and Hooray-Daddy's-Going-To-Pick-Up-Thai-Food night. If you want to eat together, the important thing is that you eat together.

                                                    1. It can be tough - My strategy is to do a 'full meal' on the weekend, usually Sunday that will give me leftovers for the week ie' roasted chicken made into other meals through out or make brown rice that will go into other meals.

                                                      Then have my kitchen, pantry and frig prepped w/ all the stuff that I need. It can be difficult, but it's definitely do-able. I've worked 12 - 14 hour days and have almost wept when I opened the frig and leftovers were there and ready for eating. Crockpot never worked very well for me but they may for you depending on who's the last one out the door ( I've rarely cooked anything 12 - 14 hours and found it palatable but I do totally trust my crockpot ).

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: JerryMe

                                                        Just one note on the Crock Pot - depending on the length of workday, it is likely worthwhile to spend a few more $$ to get a programmable model so that it'll shut off and switch to "warm" when the cooking time is over . . . while the Crock Pot is definitely not for everyone, I cannot imagine a situation when food cooked 12-14 hours is tasty!!

                                                        GG
                                                        http://www.semisweetonline.com

                                                        1. re: gansu girl

                                                          Actually mine is programmable and will automatically switch to low. I still don't like most foods that are in there that long.

                                                      2. In addition to my previous suggestion, I had come across a show on the Home Shopping Channel for a cookbook called "The Big Cook". It is written by a couple of ladies from here in Alberta, and it's all about cooking for one day, making lots of meals. I plan to go buy the book this weekend. It contains 73 recipes - beef, pork, chicken, vegetarian, etc. I am going to try attaching a photo of their sample recipe to this (but have no idea whether it will work or not).

                                                        Their website address is: www.thebigcook.com and you can even order the book direct.

                                                        I will post some reviews of recipes once I have picked up the book and actually used it!

                                                         
                                                        1. I think you've gotten alot of really good, practical advice, but thought I'd share my situation.

                                                          I stayed at home with my son until he was 2 1/2 yrs old. I had to go back to work as I was going thru a divorce. All of a sudden I had to cope with picking my son up at daycare, hurrying home and getting dinner ready for us, all after a long day at work. I'd leave the house at 7:30 am and not get us home til after 6 pm. A 2 1/2 year old needs just as much attention as a baby, (he was talking and pretty active. I never plopped him in front of the TV, he was always in the family room next to the kitchen) so you can well imagine what I had to cope with every night I had him with me. Basically, I kept meals very simple, throwing a piece of meat (lamb or pork chops) or chicken under a broiler, cooking either pasta or potato (mashed is easy) and steaming or roasting some veggies. Making dinner rarely took more than 30 minutes from start to finish. I rarely used canned/frozen product but didn't hesitate if I needed to. And yes, the dreaded "blue box", AKA Kraft Mac n Cheese, made the occasional appearance too. Dessert was simple, a piece of fresh fruit cup up, apples, oranges, whatever. Gradually I learned to do some prep the night before if possible (marinating chicken or meat) and using prepared frozen veggies if needed (the large veggie stir fry bag from Costco was a lifesaver). I never thought of casseroles at that time, but once in a while I'd make lasagna and cut-up/freeze the leftovers.

                                                          Can your husband can make any effort towards dinner at all? Think like a single parent--how would he/you cope? Can he put a pot of water on to boil, preheat the oven, do any prep work? It will be less effort when you get home.

                                                          Dirty dishes got done when the sink was full (better for the environment not to waste hot water) which I still do now. Who cares if the sink is full unless company is coming? Occasionally I did take-out, or went out for dinner when I was really, really tired/stressed from work. But mostly, I cooked every night he was with me, 5 days out of 7.

                                                          Also, take some time to make sure your kitchen is really, really well organized. I rearranged my cabinets several times to make sure everything was where it worked best for me. I still do it, 21 years later (and my son complains when I move things and he can't find them). I think it's finally perfect. Another thing I did was start my own recipe book, where I retyped my favorite/frequently used recipes into one long Word document. It is organized by ingredient type: poultry, meat, starch, veggie. I keep it next to my cooktop/oven which is the center of my kitchen triangle. I can't tell you how easy that made everything, so I didn't have to hunt for my favorite meatloaf recipe or whatever. I still add to it with new recipes I've made and know I'll make again, and just put it in a small 3 ring binder with other useful info.

                                                          Make sure your pantry and freezer are well stocked with everything that you need. Some weeks all I needed to buy were dairy and fresh produce. You can buy extra meat/chicken, freeze what you don't immediately use and thaw product as needed.

                                                          Most of all, try to RELAX! and don't stress if dinner isn't up to your prior lifestyle. Enjoy your time with your husband and baby, life will get easier in some ways (hopefully your baby will be healthy, learn to talk/walk etc) and more complicated in others (think school/homework/after school and weekend activities). The journey is so worthwhile, I can't imagine my life any other way.

                                                          Good luck to you!

                                                          1. Hi - having a baby definitely makes everyday life seem like a jugglnig act. Eventually you will get into a new groove and adjust. In the meantime, what worked for me (I have twin boys that are now almost 6) - make dinner the night before. Maybe not cook it the whole way - for example, if making a roasted chicken dish, I brown, make the sauce, chop the veggies/onions, etc., get everything in the pan. When I got home, I'd take the pan out and let it get to room temp while the oven was preheating. Pop it in the oven and let it cook while I played with the babies.

                                                            If you went this route, your husband could pop the pan in the oven since he gets home before you and then dinner would be ready (or close to it) when you got home. Other thing, with a young baby (8 months is still young to me), I'd feed the babies a simple meal (steamed pieces of veggies, cut up fruit, etc.) and then my husband and I would eat after we got them into bed. For the babies, I cut and steamed everything in advance - i.e., I'd steam a couple days' worth of broccoli, chop up a bunch of fruit, etc. so I could just take stuff out of the fridge and serve it to them cold. Really helped with their dinners.

                                                            Good luck!!

                                                            1. Good for you for still trying to get dinner going! It is so much easier to just grab something full of fat and carbs on the way home or pop in a frozen dinner than it is to wash, chop, and plan for veggies and healthy foods, but it is well worth it.

                                                              You're setting a great example for your child, and trying to make time for healthier food is something that you will all be much happier for later.

                                                              1. Big ol' glass of wine...that's how I manage to get dinner on the table.. ; )

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                  LOL. .........or TWO glasses....then you don't care if its a bit late :)

                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                    Oh, man. A year and a half ago I'd +1 the heck out of this, but these days if I had a glass of wine with dinner I'd be asleep before it ever hit the table.

                                                                    But . . . someday!!

                                                                  2. I applaud you for even trying to cook, with a full-time job and an 8-month-old. Those days are a blur to me. I don't remember what I cooked or ate when my daughter was little. I agree that Crock-pots help. If you don't want to leave it on all day, cook your dinner at night, turn it off when you wake up and put your food in the fridge to reheat later.