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Jan 17, 2011 11:51 AM

How do you manage to get dinner on the table?

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?


      1. Here are the search results on this board for "quick dinners", using the advanced search tab to cover all years.

        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.