There were two things I *tried* to do - and was only marginally successful at either. (Primarily because, by nature, I'm not a planner.)
First, I'd try to find simple recipes....something that didn't require a lot of brainpower because, once I got home in the evening, I didn't have a lot of brainpower left. Places like allrecipes.com has "Quick and Easy" recipes (or something like that).
Second, I'd try to make something on Sunday that could be eaten during the upcoming week, and maybe even freeze some. Examples are chili, or spaghetti sauce, or some sort of casserole.
I recall before going back to work full-time in 1993, after giving birth to child #3, was to buy a 4 slice toaster. It really helped in the mornings and my adult children to this day love their buttered toast!
In our house my husband and I divided and conquered for the meals. He managed breakfast and packing lunch for the kids (till they could take over, but he still made sure there was food on hand) and I was in charge of dinners. I will admit that sometimes the kids watched TV while I cooked (I know, bad mom) and we probably ate out and ordered in more than we should have.
I went through a phase of batch cooking where I would make a bunch of meals for the freezer on Saturday...that worked pretty well till I got tired of doing it! I also tried purchasing meals at "Super Suppers" for awhile but the kids complained..they liked my food better! I would generally plan ahead and we would eat the same meal two nights in row...that worked as long as the meal was tasty!
In general, having dinner around the table was really important to us and we made it happen one way or another. I miss those days...even finding broccoli in the centerpiece cause my son pulled a fast one!
When my husband and I married, we both worked full time. I told him that it was not fair that I had to do all the cooking. He said he didn't know how to. But I told him that if he was smart enough to get a masters degree, he was smart enough to follow a recipe. So we began cooking on opposite weeks. It has worked well and we have different styles of cooking do we never get bored.
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My nest is now empty, but I am proud of the fact that I made it a priority to put a home cooked dinner on the table most nights on top of my 50+ hour a week engineering job. I was also a very involved parent volunteer. I will say that it got harder to do once the kids had all their extracurricular activities in high school. They had to eat on the run when they could squeeze it in between football practice and marching band (we had a great team of parents that brought food to the football field after practice so the football players that were also in the band could eat. We also had a great volunteer group that made tons of food for the high school drama club so no one went hungry. We all took turns making it happen. But when I cooked at home for the 4 of us, I always tried a big cooking project every Sunday (roast beef, ham, turkey) that I would serve as leftovers later in the week. Monday was always Scout meeting night (I was a Girl Scout Leader and a Boy Scout Merit Badge Counselor) so that night was usually something I started in the morning in my crock pot. I can remember when the kids had catechism on Wednesday night, we always had pizza that I picked up on the way home from church. I had a neighbor that worked nights so she dropped the kids off after school and I picked them and the pizza up on the way home. Also, I really liked to use my pressure cooker. I kept a blog of my experiences here: http://motherskitchen.blogspot.com/ that I started writing in 2006 when my kids were 11 and 9. They are now 21 and 19. So my advice is make dinner at home whenever you can, and join up with other parents to make dinner happen when you can't.
I am currently in the midst of working 40+hours and caring for a toddler. Frozen veggies are a miracle. Those along with a protein and either rice or noodles and everyone is good to go. Tuesdays are pizza night :)
The nights I am feeling good, the fancier the meal. But frozen corn or frozen peas, I am telling you, wonders of the modern age.
Thank you, Star! Great suggestions!
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