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Smarter Mom: Beat the Dinner Dash!

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Evenings in my house are one enormous mad rush from the time my husband comes home to the time we finally get the kids to bed (usually late)...does this sound familiar to anyone? And one problem I face a lot is getting a decent meal on the table in a timely fashion.

Tonight, for example, was such a disaster that I finally gave up and fed them sandwiches when the chicken still wasn't done and it was past bedtime. I have a few tricks, but this is one of those posts where I turn to you nice ladies for advice because this kind of crazy? I am over it.

Here are my "no-time-to-cook" go-tos:

Slow cooker. If I have some time in the morning, I LOVE the slow cooker. Even though most meals take some prep and so I am unlikely to use it on mornings I have to get out the door, it's great on days  I have a slower morning but a busy night. We walk in the door and dinner's ready, even if we have to bolt it down in 15 minutes before the next thing.

Pasta and sauce. I hate tomato sauce, but love pesto, which you can buy in big tubs in most decent-sized grocery stores. It's expensive, but 1) throw a little of the pasta cooking water in with the pesto when you're coating the noodles. It thins it out but the sauce clings like crazy and 2) Freeze whatever you don't use in an ice-cube tray, pop them out when they're frozen, and use it when you need it. I throw in vegetables like peas or sauteed zucchini to up the health quotient.

Freezer cooking. I haven't done this in awhile, but making big batches of freezer-friendly things and freezing them in meal-size portions is a lifesaver on nights when you just cannot deal with cooking dinner. Enchiladas, pot pie, lasagna...just about any casserole-ish thing freezes really well and reheats nicely.

But I need your advice, Smarter Moms! How do you get a decent dinner into everyone on busy nights without resorting to the drive-through?

by on Jan. 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Replies (51-56):
by on Jan. 28, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Crockpots are awesome!  I use mine as much as possible during the week.

by on Jan. 28, 2013 at 8:00 PM

I keep things that I cooked ahead of time in the freezer so that all I have to do is heat it up.

by on Jan. 29, 2013 at 1:39 PM

if i know i'll be busy, i throw something in the crockpot!

by on Feb. 13, 2013 at 12:49 PM

I think you really need to get it together...if you just take the time to think about what you want to cook, it dosen't take a lot of time to prepare for crock pot cooking...just add the ingredients and the cooking is off..You can cook many entire meals in the crock pot while you are at work and when you and the family enter the home you will not believe how great your meal smells and when you taste it ifs unbeliveable..


by on Feb. 13, 2013 at 1:59 PM

i cook as everyone is hungry because busy nights here are when no one is around the same time

by on Feb. 13, 2013 at 2:12 PM

I slice the chicken breast in half until they are only about an inch thick. Bread or sauce and bake at 400 for about half an hour. Pork chops also cook quickly at 400.

Get frozen bread dough out in the morning.  Use it for pizza crust with salad bar veggies (usually, they only last a day or two, so the day after grocery shopping), shredded cheese and sauce. Make it thin crust. Bake at 400-425 for 10-15 minutes.

Microwave steam broccoli, snow peas or "oriental blend". Use rice noodles and make a quick lo mein sauce (or use jarred). Sprinkle with peanuts.

Scrambled eggs.

Italian sausage cook quickly on the stovetop.

I broil fish right from the freezer. Takes about 20 minutes.

I cook two nights' worth of chicken breast or steak and make salads the second night.

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