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View Full Version : Help! Easy suppers that keep well needed!



Monkey
09-04-2008, 02:39 AM
I'm a stay-at-home with three kids. Two are too young for school and demand lots of attention; my husband and my oldest son get home anywhere between 5 and 8pm.

There are several things that must be done each day that can't be done until my husband gets home. Lately, dinner has had to wait until everything else has been done...meaning that supper time has typically been around 10pm, not a happy time for toddlers.

I desperately need meals that:

*can be served cold or gotten to a certain point and then "held" until my husband gets home

*use a minimal number of ingredients (this is due to availability/time, not to cost)

*allow me to stop preparing food and tend to toddlers at irregular intervals

*use natural, unrefined foods whenever possible (whole wheat flour, brown sugars, brown rice, no 'pasteurized process cheese food', limited additives)

Anyone who can provide links or give suggestions will receive my most heartfelt thanks. Rep points, too. And I'll give you a crit in SYW if you do SYW. And anything else you want to ask of me, within reason. :)

mscelina
09-04-2008, 02:51 AM
This is one I used when my kids were little. You can substitute the ground beef with ground turkey if you like. Good for kids and hearty enough to keep hubbies happy too.

Macaroni Lasagna--

1 box uncooked macaroni noodles
1 lbs ground beef (chuck, turkey etc)
1/2 lb sausage (again, turkey sausage will work)
pepperoni to taste
tomato sauce (or, if you stew sauce like me 5 large ripe tomatoes)
green peppers
onion
red or yellow peppers
herbs to taste
1/2 cup wine
1/2 cup water
dash worchestershire sauce
as much cheese as you can stomach (I usually use a pound of mixed cheeses when all is said and done)

1. Make sauce. In cook pot, set tomatoes to stewing in wine and water. Mince onions, peppers, herbs (I use oregano and basil, fresh if you can get it, fresh garlic--2 cloves--and a little rosemary). Brown sausageand ground meat; add herbs and vegetables and cook until just tender. Set aside. Take stewed tomatoes and run under cold water--this should make it easier to remove the skins. place in blender with juice from stew pot. Puree'. Add to pot with meat and herbs. Add worchestershire sauce to taste, add additional water or wine until sauce is desired consistency.

2. Make macaroni noodles. Drain and set aside.

3. Pour noodles into baking pan. Add pepperoni if desired--I use about half a bag. Then, over pepperoni add cheese of choice until completely covered. (I use fresh-grated cheddar and provolone) Pour sauce over cheese and noodles. Add another layer of cheese (I use more cheddar and slice very thin strips of mozzarella--you can mix and match the cheeses according to taste)

4. Bake until cheese is melted and golden brown.

This recipe keeps well, refrigerates and keeps well, and actually tastes better the second day. You can, of course always cheat too--favorite bottled spaghetti sauce, bags of cheese, bottled dried herbs) but make certain that you add the fresh, cooked meat and fresh sauteed vegetables to give it that good flavor. Very hearty dish.

Elaine Margarett
09-04-2008, 02:55 AM
I'm a stay-at-home with three kids. Two are too young for school and demand lots of attention; my husband and my oldest son get home anywhere between 5 and 8pm.

There are several things that must be done each day that can't be done until my husband gets home. Lately, dinner has had to wait until everything else has been done...meaning that supper time has typically been around 10pm, not a happy time for toddlers.

I desperately need meals that:

*can be served cold or gotten to a certain point and then "held" until my husband gets home

*use a minimal number of ingredients (this is due to availability/time, not to cost)

*allow me to stop preparing food and tend to toddlers at irregular intervals

*use natural, unrefined foods whenever possible (whole wheat flour, brown sugars, brown rice, no 'pasteurized process cheese food', limited additives)

Anyone who can provide links or give suggestions will receive my most heartfelt thanks. Rep points, too. And I'll give you a crit in SYW if you do SYW. And anything else you want to ask of me, within reason. :)

Ah the good ol' days. <g>

Fear not, there are lots of things you can make! My latest fav is a baked ziti with sour cream that I got from www.allrecipes.com. (It's super fast if you go with the jarred sauce, and very toddler friendly.) Allrecipes is a great site! They have all kinds of features like search by ingrediants; thirty minute meals, etc. You can copy and paste reviewers' tips and suggestions regarding the recipe before printing it, a handy feature.

And have you tried putting dinner together (or at least some of it) while the kids are napping? It doesn't take long if you can get 15 minutes of uninterrupted time.

Good luck!

Monkey
09-04-2008, 03:10 AM
Thank you both!

My family has no problem with red meat and can handle more cheese in a meal than most people eat in a month, so the macaroni lasagne sounds great (although I'll probably cheat and used canned sauce - but hey, I do grow my own basil!)

I'll check out the allrecipes site, too!

mscelina
09-04-2008, 03:11 AM
Allrecipes is great. Lots of fun recipes there.

And yeah, if you cheat it's really easy. All you do is cook the noodles and then dump everything else on it. And the more cheese, the better IMO. ;)

stormie
09-04-2008, 03:24 AM
Too funny about the cheese. The more cheese--ANY cheese--I put into my meals, the more they eat. Amazing.

Clair Dickson
09-04-2008, 03:49 AM
Anything you can slide in the oven can they be put on low until Hubs/son gets home-- also see if your suace pans are considered over safe. Some are, or you might get some. You can make Spaghetti then combine into a large pot and stick into the oven at a low temp. Or Chicken Alfredo (we used bertolli? which was mostly natrual but you can find easy recipes too.)

*Bias alert: I don't have my own kids, but based on my experience with other kids, I believe the notion that "toddlers can't/won't eat certain foods" is bunk. My folks waited until we were hungry enough and Oldest Bother and I would even sit down to a dinner of mussles and spinach and happily eat. Anyway.

RECIPE
I do any easy chicken parmesan type meal that prepares quick then slides in the oven.
Need one large 9x13 or so pan (I use a glass one like I do for lasagna)
Takes 1 jar spaghetti sauce (or two if you like it extra saucy)
At least 2 cups Mozarella Cheese (we're cheese fiends here, so I usually go heavy on the cheese.)
Boneless Chicken Breasts or Tenders
Parmesan cheese (1 cup)
OPTIONAL: Package of noodles

1. Pour half of spaghetti sauce into bottom of pan.
2. Pour half cup of Parmesan cheese in bottom of pan
3. Lay chicken across bottom of pan.
4. Pour half spaghetti sauce over chicken
5. Cover chicken in cheese (Best to keep cheese on chicken, but it's okay if it gets elsewhere.)
6. Cook in oven at 350 for 30 minutes or more. (I use frozen chicken breasts tenders that come individually frozen and cook closer to 40 minutes) Make sure chicken is cooked through.
7. Serve (optionally serve extra saucy and/or with noodles.

RECIPE:
Easy Lasagna
Find a box of lasagna noodles that has "no boil" instructions. Follow those. You can stopp at any point during prep. And, it can stay in the over on low for quite a while.

TIP:
My mom makes her chili and stews by cooking them in a large pot in the oven all day, then turning the oven to low and pulling it out whenever anyone wants another bowl. A crock pot works well for this too, if you own one. But if you don't, the oven has worked for my mom for some 40 years.

Of course my mom was also pretty good at telling us kids that she was not at our disposal while she was cooking, too. She say: "I have TWO hands and they're ALREADY helping YOU." And we'd scurry off to do something for a while waiting while scrumptious smells filled the house. This thread is making me hungry...

Siddow
09-04-2008, 04:02 AM
My basic, quick-on-the-draw meal is any type of broiled meat (chicken breasts, pork loin or chops, london broil, salmon, etc...) and salad.

My kids chow on salad, they love it. I buy romaine a couple times a week (get two meals--12 servings!--out of one head), and top it with stuff I prepare and keep separate in the fridge: diced red onion, drained and rinsed wax and green beans, chickpeas, kalamata olives, feta, grape tomatoes. Yes, they eat this stuff, lol!

I just broil the meat with the basic SPG: salt, pepper, garlic.

Hubs can either heat up the meat, or eat it diced cold on top of the salad.

Fraulein
09-04-2008, 06:38 AM
Make what you can on the weekend and freeze it. Defrost what you've made whenever you're ready to serve it. You could freeze a homemade pizza, a mixture of stir-fry, or a stew/soup with a side of brown rice.

Fruits and vegetables can be freshly prepared as side items while the munchkins are napping, e.g strawberries, apples or bananas treated with lemon juice, carrots, or broccoli.
Frozen vegetables are easy to prepare in the microwave.

Good luck! :)

Monkey
09-04-2008, 06:41 AM
Thanks, everyone, for all the great suggestions. :)

Robin
09-04-2008, 04:11 PM
This is where the crockpot comes in handy too. If my kids had to wait until hubby came home every night before they ate, they would starve. He is supposed to get off at five, but usually isn't able to leave until 6, 7, sometimes much later.

I've learned the hard way. Pork chops and chicken breasts look so sad when they shrivel up and dry out!

Sarita
09-04-2008, 05:01 PM
I make this broccoli pie that pretty much requires you to dump everything into a quiche/pie dish, throw it in the oven and walk away. Cheesey, eggie, yummy. I usually serve it with a simple tomato salad on top.

I'll go dig it up this afternoon for you, if ya like :)

Sarita
09-05-2008, 12:32 AM
Impossible Broccoli Pie from Betty Crocker's Cookbook

2 packages of frozen chopped broccoli (10 oz each… I use fresh 1 lbs)
3 Cups of shredded cheddar
2/3 cup chopped onion
1 1/3 cups milk
3 eggs
cup buttermilk baking mix (like bisquick)
Salt/pepper to taste.

Preheat to 400. Grease 10” pie plate. Rinse broccoli under cool water to thaw, drain well. Mix broccoli, 2 C cheese and onion in the plate. Beat milk, eggs, baking mix and salt/pepper until smooth. Pour over broccoli/cheese in plate. Bake 25-35 minutes, until knife comes out clean. Top with remaining cheese and bake until melted. Let stand for 5 minutes.


This is good hot or cold, kind of like a quiche. Aaaaand, I think I’m making it tonight. Simple! With a tomato and cucumber salad.

ajkjd01
09-05-2008, 12:44 AM
Spicy Apricot Chicken

4 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 c. Russian salad dressing
1/2 c. Apricot All-Fruit (found in jelly aisle)
1/2 T. dried onion flakes
1/2 T. thyme

Mix all ingredients except chicken. Arrange chicken breasts in slow-cooker. Pour mixture over chicken. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.

This freezes really well too, so when I do it, I generally double the recipe. If you double it, I wouldn't double the liquid mixture...would only do 1.5 times the ingredients, otherwise too much liquid.

JoNightshade
09-05-2008, 12:58 AM
I have one recipe that can be adjusted for whatever I have on hand. Basically it's a rice casserole dish with mixed veggies, meat, soy sauce, and salsa. This is how it goes:

Cook like 4 cups of rice (4 cups when uncooked, I mean).
Cook up some ground beef, about 1/2 lb. I do it in a wok, then dump it out and put in the veggies.
Veggies I include: Canned corn. Canned white beans. Canned... you get the idea. Also bell peppers are good. Mix in about 3 tablespoons of soy sauce for flavor. You could also add thyme. Mix this up with the meat.

When the rice is done, put half of it in the bottom of the casserole dish. Now put the meat/veggies in the middle. Then pour on a thin layer of salsa and top with the other half of the rice. You could put some paprika on the top, but not necessary. Now this is ready to go whenever you are. Just pop in the oven at 350 for like 20 minutes.

Monkey
09-05-2008, 01:30 AM
Robin, I'd forgotten my poor, neglected crockpot. ;)

Saritams8, that sounds wonderful. My only problem is that bisquick and the like tend to use lots of white flour or otherwise super-refined flour. Do you think it would work with cornmeal, wheat flour, or somesuch? This sounds so good, I need a way to make it work. :)

Ajkjd01, that sounds very YUM; just the sort of thing to get me to fire up the ol' crockpot!

Joe, I love "everything but the kitchen sink" recipes where you can throw in whatever you happen to have. Thanks!


These are great, guys!

vixey
09-05-2008, 01:41 AM
I completely sympathize with what you're saying. I highly recommend Once-a-Month Cooking by Wilson and Lagerborg. Every recipe is easy and freezable. If you don't mind dedicating a few (maybe several) hours on a weekend (when hubby can either help or distract kids) to cooking/prepping and freezing several meals for the week. You can order it from Amazon (so you don't have to run an errand to the book store to get it):

http://www.amazon.com/Once-Month-Cooking-Revised-Expanded/dp/0312366256/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1220564284&sr=8-1

stormie
09-05-2008, 02:32 AM
Here's one that can be slow-cooked or fast, and held on the burner or in the oven to keep warm, and kids love it:

French Onion Chicken
Brown chicken pieces in skillet.
Add two cans of Campbell's French Onion soup (I found that's the best for this recipe.)
Simmer, covered, for as long as the soup doesn't burn off. Or cook faster on a high heat, uncovered. This tastes best when the chicken is cooked 'til falling off the bone. And tastes even better the next day. So make a lot.

Sarita
09-05-2008, 04:30 AM
Saritams8, that sounds wonderful. My only problem is that bisquick and the like tend to use lots of white flour or otherwise super-refined flour. Do you think it would work with cornmeal, wheat flour, or somesuch? This sounds so good, I need a way to make it work. :)Okay, here's what I do, because I'm really health concious, too.

I cut the cheese in half, yeah, in half. It still tastes amazing and cheesey. You just don't need 3 freaking cups! I use 2% organic milk. And I can't remember the name of the mix, but I get it at Wegman's, in their organic section, it's basically a baking mix that's made with wheat flour and spelt (er, I think!) But I know it doesn't have white flour in it. You can also make your own baking mix. It's basically just flour (your choice what kind) baking soda, powder, and salt. Here are a couple I found:

Ingredients:

1 cup soy flour
2 cups soy protein isolate
2 Tablespoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar

Ingredients:
8 Cups Flour
1 1/4 Cups Nonfat Dry Milk Powder
1/4 Cup Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon Salt

Monkey
09-05-2008, 05:46 AM
Sounds great, Stormie!

And Saritams, thanks for the alternates! That definitely helps. :)
Cheese and whole fat milk are all good, though. We could use a little more meat on our bones!

kikazaru
09-05-2008, 07:00 AM
The best things to make that will "hold" are soups, stews or things with sauces - spaghetti is great because you can make a whack of pasta ahead of time, and then just pop it in boiling water to reheat for your husband and top with sauce. Some other ideas, chili, beef stroganoff (with egg noodles or rice), chow mein, stir fries etc. You also might consider cooking rice, pasta or potatoes ahead of time, have some frozen veggies at the ready and you just need to thaw some chicken breasts to pan fry to have a meal ready in no time.

Some things to have in your pantry/fridge/freezer that you can make a meal in a hurry. Canned beans/lentils, canned cream soups (makes a quick base for soups/stews) beef and chicken stock (box, canned or granules), canned tomatoes (can use them to toss with some pasta and basil with a sprinkle of parmesan for a quick meal, or in soups or sauces) frozen vegetables, I have peas, whole green beans, and corn and various mixed veggies which I can just grab and have as a side dish or toss with some chicken, add appropriate seasoning for stir fry, or toss in some broth for soup, thicken that and its stew.

Another thing, I have 2 kids and they are starving the moment they get off the school bus, so I have found it so much easier to feed them earlier than later. If dinner is waiting for them as soon as they get off the bus, they are less likely to be cranky, they also don't fill up on snacks while waiting for dinner as well. Then if they are hungry later on it's easy to give them some yoghurt, cereal, cheese crackers, fruit etc before bed.

Good luck to you.

stormie
09-05-2008, 05:48 PM
Another thing, I have 2 kids and they are starving the moment they get off the school bus, so I have found it so much easier to feed them earlier than later. If dinner is waiting for them as soon as they get off the bus, they are less likely to be cranky, they also don't fill up on snacks while waiting for dinner as well. Then if they are hungry later on it's easy to give them some yoghurt, cereal, cheese crackers, fruit etc before bed.
Actually, that's a great idea.

Monkey
09-05-2008, 07:36 PM
I ordered the book, Vixey. :)

Thanks for the ideas, Kikazaru!

Now I've actually got to sit down and put together a shopping list!

Elaine Margarett
09-05-2008, 08:26 PM
Another thing, I have 2 kids and they are starving the moment they get off the school bus, so I have found it so much easier to feed them earlier than later. If dinner is waiting for them as soon as they get off the bus, they are less likely to be cranky, they also don't fill up on snacks while waiting for dinner as well. Then if they are hungry later on it's easy to give them some yoghurt, cereal, cheese crackers, fruit etc before bed.

Good luck to you.

I forgot I used to do this, too! My daughter was a picky eater and thought lunchtime was social time so she didn't get a lot of eating done. I'd have dinner all ready when they walked in the door. It's amazing how well picky kids eat when they're hungry. If I gave her a snack to tide her over, it would take the edge off her hunger and she'd pick her way through supper.