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Easy dinners after daycare
What do other working parents do?

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#1 jobo77

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:31 PM

I have been back at work p/t now for nearly a year and from next week will be upping the ante and doing 3 days a week. We have long days - leave home around 715am and then with traffic, how far my work is from home etc, don't get home until sometime between 5-530pm. DH does the same hours as me often travelling part way in our 1 car on those days.
I need to come up with some easy dinner ideas that ideally just involve reheating as the kids are usually at our heels for dinner the minute we walk in the door, despite eating snacks (apple, crackers or the like) in the car after pick up. Not to mention the afternoon tea they get at daycare right before I pick them up... rolleyes.gif
What do other working parents do for dinners? They get full hot food at daycare each day and I must confess to feeding them things like scrambled eggs and toast, baked beans or a sandwich in the past because of this but I probably need to get a bit more organised! I think I'm feeling a bit daunted by the 3 days although it was my choice to do it.

#2 knittingkitten

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:35 PM

I think what you're feeding them at night is fine if they get a full lunch at daycare.

We do toasted cheese or snack plates with cucumber, cheese, cherry tomatoes etc. Or I defrost the spaghetti bolognese portions while I cook the pasta.

Edited by knittingkitten, 01 January 2013 - 08:39 PM.

#3 SeaPrincess

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:38 PM

No idea, but I'm returning to work in 2 weeks time, 3 days a week, and am wondering exactly the same thing. I usually have dinner on the table for the children earlier than I will even be home.

#4 codygirl

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:40 PM

Absolutely nothing wrong with scrambled eggs or baked beans original.gif.

I keep pasta sauce in the freezer for those kinds of nights, also stir fries/ fried rice - they can munch on the veges as you cut them up (carrot sticks etc).

Double cook batches of risottos etc in winter and there is always salads in summer.

And when all else fails - omelettes!!!

Good luck going back 3 days, it is crazy but it seems that much busier, I go with planning and letting your standards slip original.gif.

#5 Chardonnay Buffay

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:40 PM

I am in the same boat - 3 long days a week - my DH is on 12hr rotating shifts so it's up to me to feed the children.
I do a big freezer cook up every few weeks. It includes - zucchini slice, banana pikelets (minus any sugar), mash potato and sausage, and any random casserole I can come up with.

On day care days, just microwave and serve. On the days I'm home, I'll cook something for all of us. Oh and apricot chicken risotto defrosts really nicely too.

I must say that on day care days, the children get defrosted 'slops' so to say, and I will cook a separate meal for us later once they're in bed. Works better when you're exhausted!

#6 liveworkplay

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:41 PM

The 5 of us have to be out the house by 715 and, on a good night, are back by 530pm. At that time I find it easy to chuck on some steamed veg and some type of protein(chicken kebabs are a favorite). Takes less then 20 minutes but if you want it quicker, have the veg cut up ready to chuck in.

Our horror night is not getting home until 730pm. That is "cheese toasties or egg on toast" night laughing2.gif

If I'm organised (rarely) I'll make a lasagna, spag bog or quiche.

ETA: I work 4 days a week, DH 5 days.

Edited by liveworkplay, 01 January 2013 - 08:44 PM.

#7 Lyn86

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:43 PM

What about quiche/frittata?
Or cooking on the weekend then just warming it up? (Lasagne, spaghetti Bol, pasta bake).
Or have left overs one night, something easy the next (scrambled eggs, beans on toast), then a proper meal the third while you ease into it.

#8 Super Cat

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:46 PM

I don't have any full meal ideas but I find those pre packed, throw in the microwave steamed vegetables a blessing on nights like that. I throw them in an omelette or serve them with sausages.

Our other quick meal is sausage and salad wraps or chicken and salad wraps. The kids love them.

#9 Silvermist~

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:48 PM

I have been working 3 days a week for a couple of months and now am about to start 4 days.

I have a "food bank" in the freezer of meals I have prepared for work days.  Mostly curries, pasta sauces and casseroles and then I just cook rice or pasta to go with it.  I use my slow cooker a lot too so dinner is ready as soon as we walk in the door.
I also have a night where we have eggs or left overs.
My 3 year old has a hot meal at day care (sent by me though) but my 5 year old is at school and has a cut lunch, which isn't always eaten so I like her to have a good square meal of an evening.

The kids are starving hungry as soon as we get home so are usually eating apples and strawberries while I prepare dinner.

#10 JuniorMint

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:51 PM

Chardonnay, how does the frozen mash potato turn out?  I have thought of doing this as the kids love it but sometimes I can't be bothered waiting for the potatoes to boil on a crazy night?

Do you eat it yourself or just the kids?   Hmmm I could do that with sweet potato and pumpkin too.

#11 No girls here

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:53 PM

When my older two were in day care, we would just do baked beans, sandwiches, salads etc.  

I figured that they got at lunch time what they would usually have for dinner on a non-work day, so I just had to give them a lunch equivalent for dinner.

#12 feralisles

Posted 01 January 2013 - 08:55 PM

Can you cook on the weekend and just reheat on work nights?
I'll often make a big pot of soup for that purpose.  Toasted sandwiches are another good idea if you have a sandwich press.
I can put together a noodle stir fry or fried rice in under 10 minutes if I have the precooked noodles or microwave rice in the pantry.  The kids can always snack on raw veges as you chop if they can't wait!

#13 EBeditor

Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:02 PM

You can buy frozen mash from the supermarket, it doesn't have any preservatives or crap in it and tastes OK.

I tend to cook in advance and defrost (spag bol is always a hit) or do grilled cheese on toast with salad, or baked beans on toast, or omelettes.

Couscous cooks in only a couple of minutes so that is good to serve with leftovers, or with chicken skewers. I have sometimes used instant rice too.

#14 Lifesgood

Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:03 PM

I usually prepare the kids meals on the weekend or my days at home and have them ready to heat up on a plate/in a bowl or plastic container so we literally just walk in the door, pop them in a microwave and serve up.

Any of the options PPs have mentioned above can be prepared in advance and reheated. We also do chicken and vegetable soup, bacon & lentil soup, casseroles involving various meat/veges in the one dish, mini-pies with mash & beans etc etc.

#15 aztecblue

Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:08 PM

I'm in the office 4 days a week. We (DH, me and DS) all leave at 6:45am and I don't get home with DS till 5.

DS is 22 months and at the moment I still prepare a different meal for him. So I cook up a huge batch of things like pasta bake, zucchini slice, lasagna etc and freeze. I just defrost and he eats at 5:30 then gets a bath. After that, I get started on DH and I's dinner whilst he watches an episode of In the Night Garden.

Over the next few months I am going to transition DS to having whatever we eat, so I will just make another portion of whatever we're having for dinner that nightn and keep it for DS's dinner the next night. It means he's always going to be having leftovers on those 4 nights though.

#16 Mozzie1

Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:10 PM

In summer, we often just have salad with chopped, stir fried chicken breast - takes about 10 mins to cook.

We also usually have these beans in the freezer (they are super easy to cook)


We then use them to make burritos or tacos, or just have them with rice or with flat bread in a bowl. Super easy.

#17 Guest_CaptainOblivious_*

Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:18 PM

We have a stockpile of cooked frozen sausages in the freezer and some frozen veggies. I just chuck the veggies in a pot of boiling water, put a couple of sausages in the microwave and dinner is done.

The kids love it and it takes no time at all.

DP and I normally eat later when the kids are in bed, so we cook extra and the next night the kids often have leftovers from our meal. It means they get to bed on time and I get to have a break between the after work chaos plus dinner bath bed routine before I actually have to cook dinner.

#18 SnazzyFeral

Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:27 PM

We often have BLTs or cold meats and salad. On reflection we eat a lot of salad because it is so much easier.

#19 luke's mummu

Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:34 PM

My son has a hot meal at daycare, so sometimes only toasted sandwiches or baked beans at dinnertime.

#20 MsFeralPerthFembo

Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:37 PM

DD goes to daycare 2 days a week and on those days she gets one of the following:

- Sandwhich
- Salad with cold meats
- Beans on toast
- Frozen left overs from another night.

She likes all those things so works for us.

#21 eilca

Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:42 PM

We do dinners like home made pizzas (on pita bread), tacos (bulk made mince and frozen) and lots of cuts of meat and chicken that go with easy salad and vegetables.

Like others we try and cook in bulk and freeze meals.  And I find any left overs always become gourmet dinners when topped with pastry.

#22 Libster

Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:46 PM

When I was working full time I would either do very easy dinners like toasted sandwiches or macaroni cheese or I would cook a meal the night before and put it in the fridge for the next night. I did meals like chicken drumsticks in lemon & herb with rice, spaghetti bolognaise and chicken schnitzel with mashed potato.

#23 Silver Girl

Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:59 PM

QUOTE (Mozzie1 @ 01/01/2013, 10:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
In summer, we often just have salad with chopped, stir fried chicken breast - takes about 10 mins to cook.

We also usually have these beans in the freezer (they are super easy to cook)


We then use them to make burritos or tacos, or just have them with rice or with flat bread in a bowl. Super easy.

We make a similar recipe. It's so versatile. It also works with cous cous which as PP mentioned is super quick and easy. I've used it as a pasta sauce too. Whatever way I serve it, I usually top it with avocado to serve.

Lots of freezing and bulk cooking happens here too. I love leftovers, no shame in them IMO.

#24 Jane Jetson

Posted 01 January 2013 - 10:09 PM

We eat a lot of meat 'n' veg style meals on hurried days - not very exciting but they get the job done. So chops and salad, leftover cold chicken from yesterday's roast and steamed veg, etc. Boring but functional. At a pinch I'll do my old favourite from childhood, tuna salad. Fortunately the kids will both eat a range of good cheeses which liven salads up a bit.

There's also a fair amount of pre-frozen spag bol, or stew served with rolls. Burgers cooked on the George Foreman Grill (I still feel silly owning one, but it is surprisingly good) with rolls and lots of salad only takes 10 minutes. If all else fails there is Leftovers Pasta, which is basically leftover meat cooked with a whole bunch of cherry tomatoes, some spinach and frozen diced onions, lemon juice, white wine and whatever crappy dried spices go with the meat, then Parmesan. Takes as long to cook as the pasta does and they seem to eat it.

I *can* actually cook, I just don't get time to do it properly much!

#25 lucky 2

Posted 01 January 2013 - 11:05 PM

I usually have a batch of home-made pasties in the freezer (meat and veg) also spag bol, chickpea curry, chilli con carne.
Other left overs from the fridge, ie risotto.
I don't like to cook a meal after work if I can avoid it but I suppose I'd have to if I worked full time.
I make rice in the microwave as I don't have to watch over it and it's easier to clean.

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