Does this sound familiar?
It’s 5:30pm, you’ve had the day from hell.
Your boss was in a funk, the deadline for the project you are working on just got changed to URGENT, the computer system crashed and the meeting with your colleagues was testing.
You quickly shutdown your computer, grab your handbag and keys and rush out of the office because if you leave any second later you’ll be the last parent at pick up and the daycare centre will have started charging you overtime rates.
You jump in the car and start navigating the traffic with what seems like every other person in your city.
You finally arrive at the daycare center and get the run down on what the kids have been up to for the day while you quickly sign them out. You’re almost out the door before being called back to sign the accident report informing you of the†grazed knee incident.
You tackle the kids into the car, pleading with them to stop fighting against the seat belt. Finally you’re back on the road, negotiating the traffic which seems to have got even worse in the time it’s taken you to win the seat belt battle.
As much as you’d love to be able to hear the news report on the radio, you spend the commute home singing nursery rhymes, attempting to answer all the “Why?” questions and intervening to avoid an all out brawl after your youngest just pinched her sister.
All the while, passing drink bottles back and forth… and teddies… and dry biscuits.
Oh and driving!
Eventually you arrive home and pile the kids through the front door hurrying to dump the mountain of bags and clothes and drink bottles and soft toys on the bench.
Their tired and hungry.
So are you.
And then it dawns on you…
What are you going to cook for DINNER!!!??
All you want to do is order in pizza but you know you really should provide something a bit more nutritious for you and your children.
Take a deep breath.
Help is here.
Use these 6†lifesaving tips to get you through…
1. Do Weekly Meal Plans
I know you’ve probably read this/thought this/been told this a million times before.
On nights like that, having done a meal plan can seriously be the difference between you calling the pizza guy or whipping up a quick healthy meal you actually want your children to eat!
2. Invest in a Slow Cooker (and use it!)
On a day like that, wouldn’t it be lovely to walk through the front door with the smell of pulled pork wafting through the house?
And all you have to do is throw together a simple coleslaw salad?
Slow cookers are a working families best friend. Not only are they cheap to buy (check out your Op Shops or Gumtree for a second hand one), they allow you to save money at the butcher because you can make any cheap cut of meat taste divine!
Think slow cooked beef casserol, pulled chicken or pork, lamb shanks, vegetable stews… the possibilities are endless!
3. Use Your Freezer
It’s a great idea to cook a†double†batch of pasta sauce, casserole, quiche, lasagna, taco filling, pulled pork/chicken to freeze so that on busy nights, all you need to do is defrost and heat it up!
So maybe you forgot to meal plan this week and the fridge is looking a little empty.
Hopefully you’ve got some of that spag bol sauce you remembered to put in the freezer on Monday night?
Peas and any other vegetable you like are also great to have frozen. These are perfect to add into a quick stir fry, fried rice or noodle soup.
Actually my girls LOVE eating peas straight from the freezer!
Frozen spinach is also a winner.
Simply defrost and heat up some frozen spinach.
Stir through some ricotta or parmesan or feta or cheddar (surely you have some cheese in your fridge?).
Add some herbs, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Top on toast, pasta, mushrooms, eggs…
and hey presto!
You have yourself a meal.
4. Stock Up On These Pantry Essentials
Ok, so maybe you didn’t get around to meal planning this week and you’ve eaten the last of your frozen prepared meals.
You find yourself staring into the abyss of your pantry still contemplating calling that Pizza guy.
Hopefully there are some of these staples staring back at you:
- canned tomatoes and/or pasatta sauce
- canned tuna (or any other fish)
- canned legumes or red lentils
- quinoa, brown rice or basmati rice
- balsamic vinegar
- coconut milk/cream
- an array of spices
- pasta or noodles
- Soy sauce or Tamari or miso paste
It’s amazing what you can do with a can of tomatoes, tuna, and some frozen spinach (everyone has spinach in their freezer right?).
Just add some herbs like basil or oregano (dried or fresh)
Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper and you’ve just made a pasta sauce.
Not enough time to cook the pasta?
Serve it on toast or with quinoa or stir some cannellini beans through.
Red lentils take no time at all to soften.
ANOTHER RECIPE IDEA:
Add a cup of red lentils with a can of tomatoes, can of coconut milk or cream, 1.5 cups of water or stock, some spices like ginger, cumin, cardamon, cinnamon, coriander and mustard seeds.
Within half an hour you have yourself a delicious dhal (add in†any veggies you have lying around just a few minutes before it is finished cooking)!
Still not sold…
SUPER SIMPLE RECIPE IDEA:
Cook your favourite noodles and add in any veggies you have fresh or frozen with a splash of soy sauce/tamari/miso.
Add egg or tuna.
5. Keep Your Egg Collection Well Stocked
Eggs are so super versatile.
They’re ready in minutes.
They are the perfect option on a night like this.
Poached, fried, boiled, scrambled, omelette, fritatta, baked…
Serve on toast with avocado, spinach, tomato and cheese.
Dinner done in under 10 minutes!
6. Batch Cook Grains and Legumes
Cook up a big quantity of your families favourite grains and legumes so they are ready and accessible to have with eggs or some quick poached or steamed fish or chicken and serve with any veggies you can find.
If you store them in an air tight container, they will last around 3 days in the fridge.
So there you go…
Pin, bookmark or print these tips so the next time you find yourself at the end of a horrible day, struggling to find something quick and easy to feed your family, you’ll be able to pull through without having to call the pizza guy!
Leave a comment below to share how you will tackle dinner time after your day from hell.
Author: Brigid Creasey – Wholesome Mum
Brigid is extremely passionate about spreading health and wholefood nutrition information as far as she can, particularly for all the busy mums who are confused and worried about how and what to feed their children.
Sign up to her free email series where Brigid will show you how to enjoy wholesome, healthy food without feeling like you’ve spent the whole day in the kitchen.