Need Ideas for rushed Weekday Dinners?

Avatar for e13lorena
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Need Ideas for rushed Weekday Dinners?
Wed, 01-14-2009 - 11:47am

I need some motivation and some ideas for our rushed, crazy busy weekday dinners. Most nights I get off at 5 go pick DD#3 up, pick DD#2 somewhere different, then pick DD#1 from home - take them to dance (mon and wed), we usually stop at the library after dance to kill the 30 - 45 minutes (the trip home and back would be pointless) until we pick DH up from work and then head home. We get home around 7:30ish.

I've been feeling so rushed lately we've been stopping out alot and I really hate to do that. We have tons of food at home. I stock up good, keep a good freezer and pantry full. I just don't "feel" like cooking or it's so much easier to just stop out - UGH!

I want to get to the point where we only stop twice a month - once for fast food and once at a sit-down resturant - Logan's has this great deal - 2 meals (with 2 sides)

Avatar for momtb4
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 01-14-2009 - 12:02pm

Most meals, with prep done ahead, are super fast to throw in the crockpot. You will need a timer, though, or stuff will get over cooked. It takes about 5 minutes to throw a roast, potatoes and carrots in the crock, plus about 5 minutes to peel those potatoes.

You can do a chili mostly from cans. Have all your cans clean and ready to open and dump. If you want meat in it, have the meat cooked up the night before.

You can throw in a whole chicken, on top of foil balls to hold it above the inevitable grease and put together sides when you get home.

Last night, I made pork chops, broccoli and candied carrots in 30 minutes. We were eating in 30 minutes from the time I walked through the door with the raw food.

I just can't imagine not having dinner before 730 each evening, with kids. Maybe you can pack something for dinner and take it with you. Spend that time before picking up dh having dinner with the kids. They probably don't care if you have sandwiches, chips and carrots. You can also pack a better/more substantial dinner for those evenings, if you can find access to a microwave to heat things in. I bet the kids all have a hot meal at lunch, so does it really matter if they have a cold meal for dinner? I have a cold lunch every day and usually a hot meal for dinner, and it doesn't matter.

Oh, you might also do breakfast for dinner. You can make up a bunch of waffles on the weekend and heat them quick in the toaster or under the broiler. You can scramble some eggs. Or, you can throw together a super fast salad with greens, veggies, some kind of meat.

Does any of that help? I'm hungry now! LOL

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-01-2007
Wed, 01-14-2009 - 12:41pm

Okay i will try to help but I'll be honest my meals are usually boring.

Last Saturday I bought a 6pk of romine lett @ Sams. Walmart is next to it. So I also bought some items for a salad. Then I went home and made up a big thing of salad.

Avatar for turtleemom
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-25-2007
Wed, 01-14-2009 - 1:26pm

We have a similar situation. On scout nights, DS and I eat early (5:45) and it is usually soup, bread and a fruit. Or I may do some kind of salad with chicken breast in it. After DH gets home and takes DS to scouts he eats about 8:30. I just reheat whatever the soup or toss him anothe rsalad and throw the chicken on top. Another night we get home from karate at 6:30 and I have the crockpot ready or it is eggs and smoothies, sausage/bagel. I have the table set and everything out that I might need to help cut a few minutes. Another night DS has a class in the city (1.5 hours driving each way)and we are gone from 3 until 8. I bring along 2 snacks and we do take out. That day I do cook him a big lunch that is more of a dinner type food ( meatloaf or porkchops and sides)and then DH just reheats when he gets home.

My favorite crockpot chili recipe is
1 lb raw ground sirloin
2 cans kidney beans -drained
2 cans diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion
1 packet of chili seasoning
1/2 chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper

Throw it all in the crockpot for 8 hours on low. There is enough for seconds for the 3 of us and then enough left for leftovers. It is challenging to juggel cooking and classes. Heather

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-21-2003
Wed, 01-14-2009 - 2:53pm

When using the crockpot, I almost always put everything in the removeable crock the night before and then stick it in the fridge. In the morning, all I have to do is pull the crock out of the fridge, stick it into the outside heater/liner thingie and turn it on. Takes less than 30 sec. of morning work.

You could also get the meal together the night before and let it cook overnight. In the morning, put it all in the fridge. At dinner time that evening, you will just need to reheat the meal in the microwave. When doing this, I put the food on plates and reheat a plate at a time. Takes less time than reheating the contents of the entire crock.


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-06-2003
Wed, 01-14-2009 - 7:06pm

The crockpot is an obvious choice and you've gotten lots of ideas.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-13-2007
Wed, 01-14-2009 - 11:35pm

One of my favorite easy dinners is kalbaisa (sp?) with instant mashed potatoes. It only takes a few (5-10) minutes to fry, while you make the potatoes, and we eat red cabbage with it. You can heat the cabbage in the microwave (you buy it in a jar), but we prefer it at room temperature.

Putting the crock-pot together the night before is an awsome idea. I think I made swiss steak that way, once. I don't remember how to do it now, but my husband almost did back flips it was so good. Again, I would use instant potatoes.

If you made spaghetti sauce on the weekend, all you have to do is boil noodles when you get home, and you can even splurge on a bagged salad that you mix the dressing into. They're usually a bit expensive, but I look for them on sale, and use a coupon if I have it.

Or if you made a pasta salad with lots of veggies the night before... most Costco's sell a pre-made rotissarie chicken that's reasonably priced. That would be one healthy dinner that's ready to go, and not too expensive.


Avatar for mom_x_three
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sun, 01-18-2009 - 11:16pm

our favorite quick meals

grilled cheese and tomato soup

tuna helper and veggies

spaghetti and salad

maybe bake some chicken, meatloaf,etc on the weekend and then reheat for dinners during the week

crock pot meals may actually not be a good idea if you don't get home until that may overcook unless you can put it in fairly late


happily married since 2003...a blended family with 4 kids, 1 grandchild and second grandbaby due in September

Sherry<with 3 kids, 2 beautiful granddaughters

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2003
Mon, 01-19-2009 - 11:32am
i remember the day, when i used to host the stay at home mom chat here..( yes i am dating my self...) everyone was all a buzz about once a month cooking. it's a great idea, if you have that one day a month where you can do that.. so i took it back a step. i cook all my meat ahead of time.. like chicken breasts for casseroles and soups ( i also save the stock) my hamburger for spaghetti and chili... i freeze it all... in individual recipe sized packs..
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-01-2008
Mon, 01-19-2009 - 11:49am

Is DD1 old enough to help with dinner? I assume she is since you pick her up from home (unless someone is home with her). Maybe she could put something in the crock pot before you come pick her up. If she's coming home from school, she could do it right then. That would give it several hours to cook. Depending on what you're cooking, it might work out.

There really are tons of fast meals - some of the suggestions on here have been great. I especially like the precooked meat.

We cook taco meat and put it in the fridge/freezer b'cuz DH uses it for lunch. He cooks 1# (which lasts over a week), puts 1/2 in the fridge and 1/2 in the freezer and then just heats the amount he needs for the day. When he runs low, he pulls more out of the freezer. You could make a fast spaghetti meal that way, too.

And chili would be easy for DD1 to throw everything (including precooked meat) into the crock pot for you (again, assuming she can) and it will be warm in time for dinner.

Hot dogs, coney dogs, etc. are great with chips - or you could make some potato salad or macaroni salad on the weekend.

Do you have a George Foreman grill (or similar)? That cooks meats really quickly and helps us when we're pressed for time.

Frozen pizza is another idea. Sure, not entirely the most nutritional thing you could eat, but neither is fast food :) You could have canned (or fresh) fruit as a side and make it a little better for you.

Something like chicken nuggets that you throw in the oven for like 15-20 minutes (or microwave but I think they taste funny that way) would work, too.


Avatar for e13lorena
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 01-19-2009 - 2:26pm

Having DD#1 start something in the crock is a great idea! That way it wouldn't get over-cooked from being in the all day and she loves to make dinners for the family. We used to do a kids cook night about once every couple of weeks!

Thanks for all the great ideas!