Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another Installment of Dinner Time and the Working Mom

I used to not stress so much about what I was making for my kids to eat, for the most part I felt like it was balanced and always had a veggie so they're good right? Now, you may or may not know that my kids get sick a lot in the winter. They are both in daycare and what kids don't get sick? What does sick kids have to do with cooking? Well, since you asked I'll tell you.

Awhile ago HB and I had a discussion about how we'd tell each other things our children said even if we didn't think the other would want to know. Mostly I was talking about sex and drugs but it can apply across all things.

Anyway, HB told me my Daycare Diva asked her about my carrier monkeys (what I call my sick kiddos) always being sick and asked if I fed them a lot of processed chicken nuggets and stuff. HB said not to her knowledge and shrugged it off.

Then her little Logan happen to tell her that my carrier monkeys are always sick because all I do is feed them junk. HELLO?!! WHAT??!! Sister HB asked Logan where he heard that, and guess what? From Daycare Diva's youngest Parrot daughter. I have no doubt that she said something in front of her and she was parroting it back to Logan. So fine! Whatever! Needless to say I was FLAMING...FLAMING I tell you. But oh well, whatever.

But truly, I don't just shove chicken nuggets in my kids mouth every day and even if I did, who doesn't feed their kids something like that every now and then? Isn't it a toddler staple? Seriously, when you're a working mom sometimes the time you have to cook is so minimal that chicken nuggets just seems like a good option.

Being a working mom and also having a husband that doesn't work your average 8-5pm job sometimes makes it more difficult to meal plan. I leave my job a few minutes after 5pm and drive the 10-12 minutes to daycare. By the time I get the kids in the car and make it back home it's already 5:30pm and they are starved! Plus they got to bed at 7:00pm so there is not a lot of time for cooking, eating and quality time there.

Now because I can't have them snacking on Cheetos and not eating their healthy dinner I toss them a few crackers and let them fight over those while I try to make dinner. But I don't like the mess that comes with two young kids scrapping over crackers so I came up with a plan. Sure this plan sucks up a good chunk of Sunday but when I do this I can dodge the misguided mother guilt bestowed upon me by Daycare Diva plus feed my kids yummy easy meals.

First I cook as many things as I can. I spend probably half the day cooking different things, lagsana, fried chicken, different soups, whatever I can think of that is yummy and not too hard. This is what I spent my Sunday doing.

For breakfast fun I made these Apple Cinnamon Pancakes. I got the idea from Jen and they were fabulous.

That's one Big Pancake. This was an experiment that turned out nicely. I did it because it was breakfast time and the boys were begging for an apple but I was making pancakes so I peeled one yellow delicious apple and cut it up into the batter. The batter was your basic box batter that you just add water too so it was quick and easy and a few shakes of Cinnamon and you're good. JimmyEatWorld liked these so much he even said he'd take them over his usual Chocolate Chip pancakes (which I try not to make since as HB would say "thats just eating a cookie for breakfast"). I like to make a lot of batter so I can make extra pancakes to refrigerate for during the week.

Then for lunch I made this. I got this recipe from HB (she wanted to make sure i gave credit to her) and its super easy.

Mexican Minestrone

  • Brown 2 lbs of ground beef. Drain and set aside. You can add some taco seasoning if you want, but its not necessary.

  • 3 cans of Rotel tomatoes (2 original and 1 mild for my family)

  • 1 lg can of corn

  • 1 can of pinto beans drained and rinsed

  • 2 cans of condensed Minestrone soup

  • some water, I don't know how much. I just put enough so it looks right. I'd guess 1 cup

  • Salt and pepper to taste and cook.

And you get what is pictured below. YUMMEE! I made some corn bread to go with this dish and it tastes great on the side or crumbled into your bowl to make one big dreamy soggy goodness. And with making such a large batch JimmyEW and I can take it for lunches. Its perfect to jazz up my boring sandwich and warm and yummy enough to keep me from running across the street and spending $5 at the restaurant there.

Then for dinner I made Shepard's Pie. JimmyEW did NOT want me to make this. He thought this was going to be disgusting but since he was having some flair up issues with his wisdom teeth and needed to eat something soft I said too bad and decided to make it. Mind you, I've NEVER made this before but had it as a child and always loved it.

I found a simple recipe online, because I am very simple so I need simple.

  • Start boiling 4-5 potatoes medium sized potatoes. Peel them and I cut them so they cook faster

  • Brown 1.5 of ground beef and drain it

  • saute onions and carrots in a skillet with 1/2 stick of butter, then add peas and corn. Now I used fresh carrots that I chopped up but I used frozen peas and canned corn. That seemed to work fine.

  • Once your veggies are all soft and cooked add it to the meat and combine with about 1 cup of Beef broth. You can add more or less depending on how moist you want it to be.

  • Potatoes should be done, drain and whip them with the other 1/2 stick of butter, salt and pepper to taste.

  • Pour meat and veggies into a casserole dish and spoon potatoes on top. Use a fork to fluff up the surface, you don't want it to be smooth or else it might not look as pretty as mine. Then bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

  • Broil for another few minutes so the top potatoes will brown and look all pretty like mine.

And this baby will feed us for probably 3 meals plus JimmyEW loved it! Add the hearty soup that can also act as a meal and I've got 4 of 7 meals for the week. Sure it may get boring, but I have to say they both taste better than frozen chicken nuggets and the boys seem to like them.

What are some things you do to make your life easier? Any tips? Share them in the comments section by clicking the little Gimme Me Some Sugar.
BTW, this title isn't meant to lock out any working dads who struggle with what to make for dinner-its just a catchy title. Just thought I should add that :)What's that? You want to comment? Just click on the itty-bitty words below that say "Gimme Some Sugar". Can you see them? Good. We can't wait to chat with you.


Brother Jimmy Eat World said...

And man do I enjoy the homecook meals now (much more than frozen pizza ;) This past sunday was a homecooked marathon! I even got to have a egg, cheese, salsa, burrito for a night cap.
Thanks babe, you rock hard!

Sister Sunshine said...

Way to go Sassy! This is Sister Sunshine adding her two cents worth. Brother Bobo and I have also been doing the home cooking thing instead of eating out so much and we really are enjoying it. We usually make the meal together and then reward ourselves with a nice glass of wine to go along with our delicious dinner. If you are looking for some good and easy recipes go to allrecipes.com. Also the book Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely has awesome recipes that are quick and very tasty. Her book helps you plan dinner for the week and gives you a shopping list. It is also is divided into seasons, so for example the summer recipes you don't use your oven, just your stove top or grill. Check it out. It's one of my favorite cookbooks.

Sister Honey Bunch said...

That soup is delicous! I make a huge pot of it and really does last forever. We eat it for dinner one or two nights and then I take it for lunch a couple days. Throw some corn chips in it--really yummy that way.

And Sassy, a chocolate chip pancake really is just a cookie. With syrup on it.

And just so it is known, Sassy doesn't feed her kids crap and I totally love that we have my kid around to rat people out.

Ashlee said...

My daughter will only eat COLD hot dogs, chicken nuggets, apples, and bananas. We are grateful she EATS. She has reflux and has had it since the day she was born. It's only been about the last 7 months or so that she's eaten these food items. Before that all she would eat was ice cream and soy formula. Not soy milk. That was yucky! Soy formula. The expensive stuff. Sigh. I love she eats chicken nuggets EVERY day. :0) It's protein right?

As far as easy meals go...I'm pretty sure I am Queen in this area. This is where some of my OCD comes into play though. So get ready. At the end of the month I begin planning the menus for the ENTIRE next month. It takes several hours. But saves time during the week when I realize it's 4:30 and I have NO idea what's for dinner. Anyway..where our weeks can get busy I plan the quick and simple meals for the busy nights {like tonight} and then the not so quick but simple dinners for the other nights. Check out my recipe blog www.burnham-baking.blogspot.com to see some of my stuff.
February's meal plan is posted to my fridge right now. I just checked what's for dinner tonight. We have piano lessons at 4:30 clear across town. So we have to leave at 4:10 and then don't get back home until 5:15 usually. I have a PTA meeting I need to be at 1 1/2 hours later. Not much cooking and eating as a family time in there. We usually eat pasta on nights like this.
BUT! My mom did the make and freeze stuff when I was growing up. Shepherds pie was always on her list too! Yummy!

Sister Honey Bunch said...

Ashlee, you are my hero!

Emilie said...

This may sound cheap and awful, but honestly-the Hamburger Helper and it's friend (Chicken Helper) have really come a LONG way since I was a kid. *gagging*
My family LOVES the Chicken Helper Fetuccini Alfredo...it is SO easy, and you can either use the frozen diced Tyson chicken breasts, or leftover rotisserie chicken in it if you don't feel like browing up the chicken (And they obviously know me, because they made a special notation JUST FOR ME telling me how to make it if I don't use fresh chicken :) )..The HH Lasagna and Stroganoff are yumm-y, too..add a nice loaf of french bread (with or without the ooey gooey butter and garlic spread on it, and it's a great meal with a veggie side.
I also like to make chili or chicken and dumplings on the weekend because they can last for a few dinners and a couple lunches..

Emilie said...

Oops, I forgot..I have a to die for chili recipe if your family likes that..let me know if you want it!

echolily said...

We love making chili, soups, and shepherd's pie too! Something fun to try is to skip the marshed taters on shepherd's pie and use cornbread batter instead. Make everything else as you usually like it. In mine I use ground turkey and chicken broth. You can use 1 lb of meat and then add in some kind of bean to make it a bit cheaper too. I love kidney beans in ours.

Sister Sassy said...

sister sunshine- Yay! Glad to see you commenting and I'll have to check out those book.

Ashlee, can you post your meal plan so I can steal it?

Emilie- JimmyEW would have a fit if I tried to use Hamburger Helper. He used to have it all the time as a kid and it makes him want to vomit. Part of why he didn't want to try the Sheperds pie. But...maybe now I can convince him to try it out. SUre, I'll take a chili recipe, I love chili!

Echo- good idea about the extra beans. Your corn bread alternative reminds me of a weight watcher meal I really liked that was hominy, corn, tomatoes and another bean with the corn bread on top. Super yummy and would fit with Momisodes reccommendation to cut meat out of some of our meals.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just started reading the other day, and I love your blog!

I try to pull something from the freezer the day before, and then I just keep things really simple. Tonight I'm making stirfry beef with brown rice. I'll probably throw some A-1 on it and call it gourmet.


I got suckered into buying a ton of Tastefully Simple from some friends, so I just use the different sauces to keep things interesting. That way, we might have the same meat every week, but it has different sauces each time.

Also, I stick to things that cook quickly. Instead of chicken breasts, I buy the breasts that have been cut into strips (still fresh, just cut up), so that they cook in about 10 minutes rather than 35 to 40 for a full breast.

tired mom said...

Hey sassy, Maybe you can try having some precut carrots, celery, green peppers for the boys to snack on on the way home from daycare. It may make them more patient as you try to get dinner going. It works for mine.

Also I think you need to rethink the daycare diva!!! that is so ******** rude!

Sister Sassy said...

Leah, I used to sell tastefully simple lol! Good idea for the cut up chicken, that is one reason why I tend to not do chicken.

Tired mom.. ugh. JimmyEW had a smack down conversation with her (eyes fill with dreaminess as I type) and she has gotten better. The kids are happy there and they (especially Daycare Dad) love my boys so I need to just grit my teeth and bare it. But Kiki will be doing part time preschool next year so...

mom of 2 said...

I like to make extra and I freeze for when I don't have time or feel like cooking. We also enjoy eating breakfast for dinner...biscuits, sausage and eggs...add some fruit and it's semi-healthy! :) Taco meat is another one I like to make extra of. I usually keep shells and a can of refried beans on hand and usually have lettuce and tomato as well. It's so easy to thaw out the meat and heat it up quickly...yum! Spaghetti sauce is another good one to make a large batch of and freeze. And when all else fails, I've usually got a pound of hamburger meat and a box of Hamburger Helper. It's not fabulous, but better than nothing!

Ashlee said...

I posted my February meal plan just for you along with a how-to. :0) Think of it as my Valentine's Day present.....just for you!

Wade Huntsinger said...

OK so I will be honest. I will eat anything my sweetie puts in front of me and most of the time she even fixes my plate. I am spoiled for sure. TC is an old fashioned cook as she learned from her mom. Last night we had; Pork Chops (fried of course) REAL mashed potatoes (it took 6 pounds for all of us), turnip greens, and homemade gravy, with homemade biscuits. Am I lucky or what. Throw some vinigar on them greens, along with some ice tea. BAM

Sister Big said...

I'll second a previous message. One of our favorite dinners is breakfast. How often do you get to eat those big, wonderful breakfasts? Omelettes, sausage, english muffins. Easy, quick and good for you. You might even be able to justify a chocolate chip pancake, aka: cookie, for dessert.

Martha said...

Dinners are the worst at our house. I'm usually home, so time for cooking isn't the problem for me. It's the ATTITUDE from my little pumpkin! She hates EVERYTHING. And I don't want to always cater to her.

Here's my favorite fast meal: Lite Kielbasa - I either quickly heat it up in the frypan or MW. Then I serve that with Wheat pita bread (not the pocket-type...it's a flat bread you can find it in the deli section) - I heat up a frying pan, spray it with cooking spray and brown each side of the bread. And then I like a big green salad with shredded carrot, shredded purple cabbage (I buy these pre-shredded in bags) cucumber and tomato and drizzle it with a mustard vinaigrette.
It's not at all fancy, but it's super-fast.

And Daycare Diva better WATCH IT. Or I'll go all 'Elizabeth Hill' on her.

Jen said...

I NEED some of your Shepherd's Pie! It looks so good and it's so cold here and I don't feel like cooking and that Lean Pocket is just calling my name. The age-old battle...

High Hopes said...

Sister Honey Bunch you can the daycare diva to stick it up her nose for me. We eat very healthy in my house and I buy organic veggies, meat and juices to put in my dd's lunch. Even little organic cheddar bunnies crackers (like gold fishies). I even have a juicer and make homemade juice. BTW I am not a vegetarian - I like steak too much and don't eat tofu weiners pretending to be the real thing afterall whats the point. No faux food here.

I do the make things for the week gig as well, it makes my life easier and I especially love pancake Sunday, I make enough for the week.

So you would think with all of this healthy eating that my kid wouldn't get sick - right? - wrong, my daughter gets colds left and right and she has mild asthma. When she gets a cold it tends to go into pneumonia. According to the pediatrician she is just one of those kids that bugs seem to like. I was like this as a child, so there is a genetic component.

My dd's teacher has also commented on how healthy her lunch is, at least two pieces of fruit, fresh juice and some cracker thingies.

Our kids get sick because maybe the daycare diva isn't clean enough in her daycare. Washing hands is where it counts and if they aren't doing it properly it isn't going to matter how much good stuff you feed them. Is she washing the toys your kids play with regularly? Does she wipe down the surfaces?

So the next time she slams you, you may want to suggest she do a better job of disinfecting. You could always offer to bring in a blue germ light and go through her daycare digs, I bet she would be more than a little embarrassed.

Sister Sassy said...

Thanks everyone for your comments, and High Hopes, thanks for the ammo for the next smack down. Hopefully it won't have to happen.

Btw, her youngest daughter has been sick all winter...course she prob blames it on my kids giving her things :)

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

First of all, the kind of guilt trip Daycare Diva laid on you makes my blood boil. I really, really hate it when women are not supportive of other women in terms of their choices, lives, etc. We need to help each other out!

Your solution sounds great, though. And there's a wonderful e-mail list, that I'll find and get to you that helps with that kind of planning in terms of cheap, nutritious cooking that can be done in batches and is family-friendly.

You can toss it, but it's a great newsletter! ;-)

And no, I haven't gotten to South U. for that Cheese Delight yet!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Oh! And thanks for the linky love!


High Hopes said...

Sster HB,

I went through something similar with my daycare provider, she was a know-it-all biotch. I just about gacked out when I went in and found her feeding my 3 year old fruit loops as "treat". I blew my ever lovin' gourd because I always packed great lunches/snacks . She always new better than any mom. But I will say for the most part she was good with my daughter and I knew she was safe.

If she gives ya grief send her to the cool chicks blog and I will put her in her place...

Simple Family Supper lady said...

Your food looks WONDERFUL!!! Getting supper on the table is soooo stressful! I am on a mission to help reduce this stress! I have a sample menu, with the shopping list and all the recipes for EASY meals!!!!