I find myself always busy with two kids (4yrs and 1 yr) I find it hard to even make dinner. This is starting to bother me. I want to provide a basic, easy, yet good for everyone to eat dinner. Does anyone have this problem? Any suggestions on dinners to make or books to buy? I used to make dinner every night. I haven't made dinner in weeks! Help!

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Louise - posted on 07/04/2011

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Its always better if you have dinner ready before there hungry rather than waiting untill there hungry before you prepare it.Slow cookers are great,or you could prepare it ready an hour or so before you cook it if using oven pans ect.Ive got 6 kids aged 1,2,5,6,8, and 11 and i always have dinner prepared for about 3 o clock then i only have to cook it.Cleaning up and washing the pots is my most hated as it takes over an hour every time we eat as theres 8 of us.lol.In my house its like sunday roast with the amount of dishes.There are some good cook books such as " you are what you eat" or"ready steady cook" or cook books that do just soups,pasta .You have to be prepared ,alot of people do there menu for the week.I just buy a mixture of fish,meat veg fruit pulses and grains ect and decide on the day what im making and cook from there really.Good luck with your cooking

Tarilyn - posted on 12/24/2008

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I only have one child, but some days she feels like 4 or 5 lol! She's extremely active and was walking no support at 7 months, running at 8 months...so I have always had my hands full! I will be honest, I do NOT cook every night, and I don't believe anyone should feel they HAVE to! Now onto some tips! Make BIG portions!!! Make twice as much as you know you will eat and freeze half or set it aside for lunches!!! Make double or triple batches of things like soup, or tomato sauce!! (I won't store buy my things because I have many severe food allergies, but I find by making thing from scratch, it tastes better, is better for us, and making such big portions, I can use one thing for 2-3 meals...which saves tons of time!) I find cooking in the slow cooker its barely enough for one meal! I never cook for just one meal plan and simple! I always at least double it! Save time, money and energy! (I have a couple of "disabilities" of sorts, so my energy is a big issue for me. Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia are among those, which make life HARD, more so when you through a child into the mix! When my husband is home, I make 2 or 3 meals in one day...its exhausting for me, but if I make double or triple batches once a week, then we always have spare meals in the fridge and freezer! It's a huge help for me! Also, sometimes its as simple as making a salad as a main meal. I know most people don't like that, BUT if you make a garden or ceaser salad, whatever you like, through some shredded or chunked cheese on it (cheese strings are fun for kids, and then they get to "play" with their food), grill up some chicken (you can do this when you make another meal of chicken and just freeze it so you pop it out in the morning or microwave it and its ready to go) and add some nuts and you have all your food groups and honestly it takes less then 5 minutes! You can put all the veggies on the side to make it a make your own salad if you have picky eaters! Stir frys are another fast meal, that are quick an easy, you can prepare the veggies and meats ahead of time again as well, which cuts down on prep time (do it with another meal again) and you can always buy your favourite frozen veggie pack for it as well! Throw it on rice or pasta and in 15 minutes you have a meal! Also, pasta, quick as can be! You can make your own sauce ahead of time as I said before, or you can buy a can or jar of sauce and just heat that as the pasta finishes cooking! In another 15 minutes you have a meal. You can add some bread to that and make a simple salad if you choose and your set!!

I hope some of these ideas help you Tracy! It's not hard, but sometimes you need to think simple. Also, if you don't have time or energy every night dont feel bad about it! I aim to make dinner 4-5 days a week...and then if we can afford to eat out one night we do, and otherwise we eat leftovers or have fend for yourself nights, and all we do is make something simple for our daughter. A sandwich, a bowl of soup, a frozen pizza, etc! Good Luck and I hope I was of some help for you!!!

Bobbi - posted on 12/23/2008

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On the weekends I cook a large quantity (1 gallon size) of green beans as well as a large size of macaroni (don't put the cheese on it) and a couple other veggies. If I have time I also will boil a few chicken breasts. Then I can throw together a really good meal in minutes. Also, I buy ground beef (actually chuck) in 10 lbs. or more. I go ahead and brown the whole thing and put it in the freezer in 12 oz bags (The amount 1 lb. makes when browned) Then I can make hamburger helper or taco salad quickly.

Brenda - posted on 12/23/2008

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I know what you mean, I have 5 children and I have the same problem. Some days work out great and other I can't get anything together. The sad thing is half of the kids are old enough to make there own, but don't want to help out in the kitchen. Alot of times I try to preplan, it seems to make it much easier. I make alot of home made food, but get a little help. Like premade noodles and sauce,spice it up w/ a little love and all you really have to do is cook the meat. When I get lazy, Hamburger helper and dazzle it w/ some love. You just have to use your imagination. Believe me, I do it alot.

Laura - posted on 12/23/2008

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If you buy hamburger in bulk, brown it before you freeze it because the already cooked hamburger defrosts in no time. I toss it in the microwave for a minute or so and I can break it up into the pan and make up a hamburger helper. I also use chicken and tuna helper. As a full time working mother of two I make no apologies for using convenience stuff.

Niki - posted on 12/23/2008

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Invest in a crockpot and look on www.epicurious.com for recipes.
I wake up in the morning and while I'm putting the bowls of cereal together, I'll cut my potatoes, throw in baby carrots, a package of lipton onion soup, some water...salt and pepper, thyme and rosemary, with a nice fat roast or chicken or chicken pieces. This usually lasts for about 3 nights of dinner, or 2 nights and a lunch. :-) There are a lot of crockpot recipes that help. You can get home and have a full dinner cooked with that homemade aroma filling the air.

[deleted account]

chiken can go along ways and you can buy in "bulk".

we make cicken quesidallas(boil chicken season the ways youwant shredd it put it on flour tortilla add cheese and stuff youwant and you done)chicken casarole,chicken helper.....then you add some vegitables....



also pizza ia one thingyou can realy change up and make healthy.mke vegi pizzas spinach pizza's...



we biol most ofwhat we eat frying takes longr(well meaning yu dont have o stand there while it boils you can do other things) an isnt healthy.



its not as hard as it seems to get your ntrition in.think variety and everthing adds up.like that glass of juce you may have just had.



and keep recipes simple.tacos are somewhat easy.....

Christina - posted on 12/23/2008

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I am a mother of an almost 5 year old and an almost 7 month old....I too have had this problem. Two things that I ALWAYS have on hand are Uncle Ben's ready in 90 seconds rice and a variety of frozen vegetables. Frozen cook WAY faster than fresh (and you don't really lose out on the nutrients.....and you don't have to go to the store every freakin' night) and 90 second rice....need I say more? I was really surprised at how good it is. I can season up some chicken, throw it in the oven, and not think about everything else for another 45 minutes. Even easier is shrimp! I try to do a variety of things, but for the particularly busy nights, I don't feel badly doing dinner like that. My man is a chef and doesn't get home until late, so I really make an effort to cook something (and have the kitchen cleaned up by the time he gets home...ugh!), and if I don't, I simply say, "I did the best that I could". Which is true, and I am sure it is for you too...so don't beat yourself up.

Shannon - posted on 12/23/2008

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Sign up for the Kraft foods magazine. It's free and it has great, easy, kid-friendly ideas!

Kari - posted on 12/23/2008

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I am a mother of five, ages 10 down to 16 months old. I am lucky to be able to stay home and it still is hard to fix dinner. I think you just have to say "no excuses" and make dinner. Just go into the day setting the meat to thaw and plan it from morning. If I wait til midday to think of something I get to flustered and will go with mac and cheese, or hot dogs. I buy the giant bags of frozen veggies: broccoli, green beans, and there is a great stir-fry veggie mix(we had tonite in fact). I like to buy the large packages of meat. Tonight for instance I put in the oven 8 chicken thighs with a quick marinade/sauce of apricot jam, sesame oil, garlic, and red pepper flake (adjust to taste) and a little acid(either rice wine vinegar or lemon juice. The chicken cooks in 30-40 minutes and I set the veggies on the stove with a little garlic and olive oil. Serve with a little buttered bread and dinner is served. Most of my children eat what's served all gone. But don't feel bad if you don't have time. Sandwiches and soup/fruit goes a long way.

Ryne - posted on 12/23/2008

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My two kids are pretty much the same age. My husband and I both work until five and after picking up the girls don't get home until after 6. Dinner can be rough. We give in about once a week and stop and buy the $5 pizza otherwise we cook ahead. I try to re-use leftovers to make something creative. I don't like the crockpot b/c of the scrubbing afterwards but the liners seem to help! In the summertime we usually grill on Sunday afternoon for the whole week! We cook chicken and burgers and dogs and brats,etc and bag them up for the week. Makes packing lunches easier too! Good luck!

Jennifer - posted on 12/23/2008

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yes, it's rough. I can make food; but FORGET about the dishes :) Here's what works for us.



crockpot cooking

cold sandwiches for all

*only cook kid foods (they're easy), and adults get to eat leftovers, junk, or cereal.



*the last one has saved me in many ways. We have a sick son, and we are exhausted. The basic needs get very basic in this case. I let my hubby know upfront that I've been too exhausted lately and just want a break from dinners. I work hard not to feel "mommy guilt" and provide for my children. I also can loose some weight this way, and dh doesn't mind eating foods that kids don't eat (like say throwing a steak on bbq).



Easy sides help too; like applesauce, jiffy cornbread (my family raves about this easy cheap side), cottage cheese, canned fruits.



The only thing left to do is a meat; have your freezer stocked with differnt types of meats. Also the fridge with different sort of marinades. Broil in oven.



We also like "hash". Which is everything and the kitchen sink. It always starts with skillets fried potatos and onions. Then I add in the chicken thighs, leftover hamburger, thinly sliced pork or ham and you're done. It's not fancy or pretty, but tastes good.



I do think though expectations are too much, and we shouldn't feel guilt :)

Laurie - posted on 12/23/2008

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UGGGH... I have the same problem... My kids are 5,4,and 2 and I work full time. It is so hard to plan dinners after working all day. I found a cookbook called "Busy Moms Weeknight favorites" by Southern living. I have found it to be very helpful in planning easy, healthy meals that all will eat.

I usually try to make a menu for the week and go shopping on Sat. or Sun. so that I have everything that I need. I buy frozen veges and some premade side dishes to make nights even easier!!

Best of luck to you. Happy Holidays

Kim - posted on 12/23/2008

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I also plan ahead for the week. I pick out 6 meals, make the list, and buy what I need once a week. I subscribe to Cooking Light magazine. Every month I copy the recipes that look good, easy to prepare, and not too many ingredients. I keep the ones we liked, toss the ones we don't. You can also find a Cooking Light book in any bookstore, they have a 20 minute meals with less ingredients. I also find cooking chicken in the oven, cutting it up, and storing in the fridge can be used for a couple meals. I'll add it to a box of flavored noodles, add frozen veggies, that's always easy. Use it for chicken tacos, chicken chili (get McCormicks packet of seasoning, add a can of beans, can of corn, done), and casseroles. One easy one is chicken chow mein. Get a can of chow mein noodles, chicken and rice soup, cream of chicken soup, small can of evaporated milk, and some chicken. Mix together in casserole dish with a lid, bake for 45 min at 350. Hope these ideas help.

Christina - posted on 12/23/2008

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I try to plan my meals for the week. Every Sunday plan for the week and then go to the store to get what you need. You can do several weeks in advance if you want. That way you can think of different meals that are healthy and quick to make. I find that spaghetti is one of our favorites and it is quick to make with a salad and bread. I also like to use the crock pot. McCormick has great packets for the crock..stew, stroganoff, beef barbeque, etc. You just throw it in there and let it cook and you just need to make a side dish to add to it, like bread, salad, corn on the cob. It is simple!

Nichole - posted on 12/23/2008

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I have a 4 yr old and a 7 month old. I work full time until 4:30 so by the time I pick up the kids and get home it is 5. Until a couple of weeks ago I hadn't made a decent dinner since the baby was born ( he's a demanding little guy). Finally I said things have to change. I do a lot of crock pot cooking, make my menus ahead of time and will prep things the night before so I just have to throw it in the oven. We also do pizza one night a week and left overs one night. Good luck!

Merilu - posted on 12/23/2008

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do you have a dinners2go, or mygirlfriends kitchen around? At ours we can go in on friday and pick up with they have made for the week as meals, their frozen and are fairly inexpensive I think the small meal feeds 2-3 people for $12.

Rebecca - posted on 12/23/2008

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I am a mother of 2, 41/2 and 2 1/2. I work part time from home in such a way I work up to dinner time, so no pre-dinner time to cook! I find that I like using the crock pot. When I'm making lunch, I just pop everything in the crock pot at the same time I'm making lunch, then dinner is ready to serve as soon as I'm done working! In many ways, it is about scheduling your day for both you and your child, too. I try to remember life before kids, and how there were certain things that simply must be done at certain times! Once the kids get used to the idea that you are cooking (after MUCH repetition), they WILL begin to understand and cooperate! To sum up....buy a crock pot, and a few crock pot specific books or go online to bhg.com or bettycrocker.com. They both have good specific crock recipes.

[deleted account]

I think it's just about making time for it. This makes it sound easy, I know, but I simply buy pizza once a week, cook for two nights in a row (only vegetables differ, which saves so much time!), have so much soup in the freezer... I'm lucky to have a quiet kid, but maybe it works for you too.

Sonya - posted on 12/23/2008

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About three months ago I signed up for Dinnerplanner on line. "Dinnerplanner.com" I hate cooking and I do not like shopping for groceries, but this made it so easy for me. It gives you five recipes a week and a grocery list for all the items. It is emailed to me on Friday's and I print it out and take my shopping list to the grocery store. The meals are very simple and the best part is my kids actually like the food. I don't like cooking because I have extremely picky eaters and no one would actually eat my food, but now they love what I cook. Because my shopping list provides me with everything I need, I feel like Rachel Ray when I go to the refrigerator and open it up and pull out all the ingredients I need for that dish. Some of the menus seem complex but they are not. It cost me $15 for three months worth of recipes and grocery list. My sister-in-law just had a baby and started using the dinnerplanner. Her husband loves the meals. Goodluck!

Casie - posted on 12/23/2008

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I like to make meals like chili and others that I can freeze and heat up, then we can still have nice meals with littel prep time that night. I tend to make them on a sunday afternoon. crock pot is nice too. Kraft food and family has a gret new web site and easy to prep meals. I hope that this is of some help. Good luck!!

Maija - posted on 12/23/2008

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Things I do:
If you can cook in bulk and freeze do that but I can't say I've followed that advice. Try omlette or savoury pancakes - very quick. Mini pizza made with any veg you like and cheese on top of a base of tomtato sauce or puree. For the base use an english muffin (or other flat round piece of bread). Can be frozen. Pasta only takes 7 - 12 min to cook depending on the variety. Veg can be steamed above the same saucepan if you're lazy. Add cheese and herbs at the end. Buy ready made sauces or make some and freeze in bulk.

Shannon - posted on 12/23/2008

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I have a 5 1/2 yr. old & 17 months. Two wild boys!! I work 8-5 M-F so I am in the same boat as you. I usually try the crock pot recipes or Campbell soup recipes that don't take more than like 20 minutes to make. I still don't cook every night but when I do these are the easiest. Good Luck!

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