Friday, September 18, 2009

How To...Cooking Family Dinner (A Working Mom's Guide to Making a Home Cooked Meals During the Week)

Many families have busy schedules these days, and we are no exception. As a working mom I find it incredibly difficult to get home, fix dinner with a hungry 17 month old hanging on my leg, and keep my sanity while doing it. A few weeks ago, I decided that something had to change, so I implemented a plan that has worked really well for us so far.

  • Every week, I do meal planning before I go to the grocery store (this saves us money too). I write the meals on my calendar.
  • I cook my big meals that may require more time to prepare on the weekends while the baby is napping and hubby is home to distract the baby (if necessary).
  • At least twice a week, we eat leftovers. (Leftover night at my house is on Mondays and Wednesdays while hubby is at school).
  • On Mondays and Wednesdays, after Baby Boy is in bed, I fix the meal for the next day.
  • Friday's is the anything goes night, some nights we have pizza, some nights we go out somewhere that will serve us our food quick, or we pick up some take home after work.
Here's what we at this week:
  • Sunday: Poppyseed Chicken, Green Beans, salad.
  • Monday: Leftovers.
  • Tuesday: Spaghetti with Italian sausage.
  • Wednesday: Leftovers.
  • Thursday: Taco Soup
  • Friday: Pizza night
  • Saturday: Venison Steaks, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies. If I have time during the day, I may whip up something decadent for dessert.
I think this plan works because by making the bulk of the meal the night before and only having to warm it when I get home, eliminates many excuses (such as I'm too tired, we don't have anything to eat, or I'm starving and can't wait long enough to cook something). I also think by eating leftovers 2 nights a week and then cooking gives me a chance to recharge.

What easy weeknight meals do you cook? Leave a comment and let me know.


  1. Hello and happy Friday!
    thank you very much for your comment and visit.
    wishing you a great weekend!
    hope to see you soon!

  2. -->I appreciate the planning but we often forget to defrost something in the morning for dinner that night. We do a lot of mexican themed foods - - tacos, taco salad, taco pie, fajitas, enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos... it seems to be quick on the fly. Plus, in the summer I like to use the tomatoes from our garden.

  3. Great post! Even being home, now, I still struggle with "what's for dinner"? I like your plan of attack for the week!

    I try to do a lot of prep work on Sunday for the week so it's easier to throw whatever together.

    Another quick fix is I will buy 3 heads of romaine lettuce and get it all chopped and washed up, then it's ready to go in a giant bowl in the fridge for the week. I like to bake some chicken breasts with olive oil and an herb mix I pick up at Sam's club. Cut that all up and it's ready to put in burritos or on the salad for a quick meal.

    I also buy frozen Tilapia and my go-to meal when I don't know what to fix is that with some mixed veggies...takes 15 minutes, literally!

  4. You know, you REALLY hit the nail on the head with this post. Planning is key, that's all there is to it. I bet your life just feels so much more organized now. Sometimes I plan and sometimes I don't - and you can always tell when I don't!!! Good for you ~ keep it up!! I make this taco ring I found at A Joyful Chaos - you use crescent rolls and taco "meatballs". I made the meatballs ahead of time and then that night, you just put the crescent rolls in a circle, put it together and bake it - SUPER easy and my kids loved it!! Here's a link to that recipe: It looks difficult but it couldn't be easier!! Thanks for that poppy seed chicken recipe - I've already copied it and printed it out. That's a keeper for sure! ♥

  5. thank you thank you thank you for the idea & motivation!! I am terrible at being organized with meal planning and that has GOT to change:) Thanks!

    Happy weekend!

  6. That is an excellent plan! I will have to try it out. It is very hard to get dinner on the table with a 22 month old and a 4 month old.

    Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!!

  7. That poppyseed chicken sounds good. I'll have to find someone to make it for me so I don't ruin it. :)

  8. love your blog found you through theta following you now

  9. my husband would love you.. we have no plan in my house. trader joe's makes some mean frozen meal though!

  10. Oh man, I need to get back on a system...

  11. Kraft website has something called 5 Meals 1 Bag. We use that sometimes and it is great!