Finding that work-life balance is a beast for moms. Use these 10 tips to be a working parent who gets dinner on the table all week long!
Going back to work after kids is a tough gig. Your life has changed, and being a working parent is a juggling act. I see you—trying to cook dinner every night after a hard day of work. But, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do ALL the work stuff AND all the home stuff. Working parents who cook dinner all week work smarter, not harder.
I know! I’ve been you trying to build a business from home AND taking care of all the home stuff. It’s impossible. But, after much trial and error, I’ve got the plan that will take away all that stress of getting dinner on the table night after night.
These 10 secrets are the key to being able to manage a full work week AND still cook dinner every single night!
How Do Working Parents Make Dinner Happen?
There are a few tricks to getting dinner on the table every weeknight. It’s not rocket science, but it does take a little bit of strategy to create the magic. Trust me, it won’t spontaneously happen on it’s own.
Juggling work and home is completely possible if you have the right game plan.
Below, I’ve got a few big-picture ideas that will surely get you feeling a little more balanced with work and home.
Working Parents Need Easy & Quick Dinner Ideas
Follow these 3 TIPS for getting dinner on the table in a hurry on those busy week nights after a long day of work. I live and die by these tricks to make my work week manageable!
#1: Easy One Pot Dishes
There’s only one thing I love better than a simple delicious recipe—an easy clean up! That’s why it’s so important to keep that clean up to a minimum on the weeknights. I mean, you barely have time to cook. Don’t add the stress of a pile of dishes to it!
Check out my favorite one pot dishes for a busy weeknight meal. Taco Pasta and Turkey Tetrazzini are my kids’ favorite stove top dinners as of late. Fist, we love TACO anything! And, you can easily sub out the turkey for chicken, and you’ve got a total winner one pot meal! It works both ways.
#2: Five Ingredients Or Less
Easy peasy mac-n-cheesy! I mean, 5 ingredients. You can do 5 ingredients. It doesn’t have to be anything mind blowing. It just has to be simple, tasty, quick and (healthy is a bonus!) VOILA! You’ve got dinner on the table with ease.
Check out these totally doable 5 Ingredient Weeknight Dishes! First, this uber easy New Orleans style BBQ Shrimp Sheet Pan Dinner has to be my top dinner. You won’t believe how fast this prep & cook time is! Street Corn Soup is a super easy prep and cook dinner for any night of the year.
#3: Slow Cookers
I know. Crock Pots. Sigh. Does anything super tasty ever come out of those things? YES! It’s just about knowing what ingredients to put together. That’s my job! 😊
Check out these fool proof crock pot ideas that will bring that slow cooker of yours into the 21st century! A new family favorite of ours is Chicken Cacciatore. But, it’s not to be outdone by this updated super easy Korean Crock Pot Pork. Spicy pork tacos anyone?
Manage Cooking & Working by Taking Shortcuts!
Don’t try and reinvent the wheel every night of the week. Remember, you’re feeding your picky, HANGRY, bouncing off the wall children. Shortcuts are essential.
#4: Cook Once, Eat Twice
I love a dinner that does double duty! Cook one time, and then use the left overs to transform into a whole new dish. Or, you can even double a recipe (like easy Spinach Lasagna) and freeze one for next week!
You can transform leftover chili into a tamale pie, use left over crock pot pulled pork for tacos, or left over roasted chicken can make a mean pot pie. Try this Meyer Lemon Spatchcock Chicken. It looks like you’ve spent all day in the kitchen, but it’s a super simple short cut dinner!
With a little planning, you can push those weeknight dinners out effortlessly.
#5: Ready Made (Premade) Main Dishes
Okay, time for a reality check. Are you STILL trying to cook ALL parts of your meals every single night? If so, bless your heart. Your objective is to get a good dinner on the table and avoid the drive thru. One clutch secret of working parents who put dinner on the table at night, is they don’t try and do it all EVERY night. It’s unrealistic.
Take the win here and get those precooked rotisserie chickens, bbq pork, or chicken salad from the deli. My hub’s favorite quick dinner is my BLT Chicken Salad Sandwich. No cooking required. “Assembly Only!” And, my kids have been loving the Margherita Pasta Salad this spring.
Save the simmer all day meals for the weekend!
#6: Ready Made (Prepared) Side Dishes
If you’ve made a meatloaf or roasted a chicken, kudos! Now, get out of the kitchen and stop trying to kill yourself over the sides. Also, if you’re just trying to get something on the table fast, then premades are the way to go.
Bagged salad, premade pasta salad from the deli, or even amazing dips and spreads can turn a meh dish into a TOTAL winner! Check out these Gyro Meatballs for a quick dinner idea (pssst! The ready made tzatziki is what MAKES this dish!). Also, premade guac is a must-have pairing with my Veggie Taquitos.
#7: Frozen Veggies
Y’all. I keep a healthy stock of all types of frozen veggie products in my freezer at all times. The trick about using frozen veggies is to just not overcook them. Green peas aren’t supposed to be mushy or brown. Green peas are my veggie BFF. I put those things in everything. They even make a delish pesto! Also, frozen corn. It can go in cornbread, quesadillas, taco meat, soup, chili, you name it!
But, more than just plan old veggies, you can buy amazing kid friendly veggie sides like tots made from carrots, squash, or broccoli. You can also get things like cauliflower gnocchi, or fun spirals of any veg nowadays. These are your friend! Embrace the frozen.
#8: Buy In Bulk
Parents who put dinner on the table every night often like to stock up on those things they use all the time in their favorite dishes. The best way to source things like chicken, canned tomatoes, fresh fish, or frozen veggies is through a big bulk store like Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s Club.
Things like the giant package of precooked rotisserie chicken (already pulled for you) have saved dinner on more nights than I can say. A giant package of chicken can be broken down into at least 4 bags and frozen individually. Popping one of those little baggies in the microwave and making some quick tacos or a one pot dinner is key to surviving the week at my house!
Working parents who cook all week long use ample amounts of shredded cheese, ready made meals, and prewashed salads! Added bonus of buying in bulk is that your wallet will thank you.
Team Work Gets Dinner on the Table
Moms are rock stars. We do it all. But, honestly, it’s too much. We don’t have to get burned out and exhausted trying to accomplish IT ALL every waking minute. You’ve got resources you may not even realize!
#9: Plan Ahead
Okay, here’s some tough love. If you’re still winging it every weeknight when it comes to putting dinner on the table, then you’re stress level has got to be through the roof. You need to take a minute and get real. If putting dinner on the table most nights is something that you really want to do, then you need a plan. Winging it isn’t gonna do your stress level any favor.
Now, this site is full of quick recipes and ideas for getting food on the table at night. But, if that seems too overwhelming to sit and plan out, then don’t worry! I’ll do it for you.
That’s right, friend! I’ll be your #1 untapped resource! I’ll give you my weeknight meal plan, which includes recipes for the entire week, a grocery list for shopping, and a plan of attack for your family. Ready to put it into action? Just sign up HERE, and I’ll send it to your email.
#10: Share the Cooking Duties
What is the ultimate secret weapon that working parents MUST have to get dinner on the table all week long? You guessed it—team work. Like we say at my house, Team Work Makes the Dream Work!
If your partner is working too, then you both have crazy demands on you. But, it is NO secret that the majority of women carry the mental load of what to cook for dinner. Even when both parents are working!
So, it’s time. It’s time to have that talk that you don’t want to have with your partner. He needs to start getting hands on at dinner—even if he can’t boil water. That’s right! There are too many short cut premade options out there for the cooking challenged.
This is where we started in my house! TRUE! My husband didn’t take on the responsibility of cooking dinner at all. That was all on me. But, I felt the stress of that BIG TIME. Putting dinner on the table every week night was a huge priority for me. And, I didn’t want it involving a drive thru. I mean, there’s only so many burgers a girl can eat. Plus, it AIN’T cheap to eat that way.
There came a point, when we had to get our grownup pants on and make a plan.
Real Meal Plan for Working Parents
Sounds intriguing right? Well, the plan I’ve created for Freaking Delish is the same one I use at home with my husband. It’s called, Taking Turns In The Kitchen. It helps us plan for the week, and it divides up the cooking duties. Everyone gets a turn. Everyone has to take responsibility. It’s that simple.
I give you some easy weeknight dinner recipes that include one pot dishes, 5 ingredient meals, and other quick dishes that aren’t labor intensive. But, I also provide you with some incredibly delicious ideas for how to put ready made ingredients to good use!
If your partner can’t make a meal to save his life, he can still follow what I like to call simple “assembly” style recipes. No cooking, just assembly required! Sounds easy, right? Well, sign up here and try it out! Get my one week plan sent straight to your inbox.
Then, if you like it—I’ve got another amazing plan that will get you through the month!
Dump Dinner Time Stress
Working parents who cook night after night are using these secrets to get dinner on the table. These tricks of the trade really take the drama out of dinner time. I promise, if you pick any one of these tricks–your life is gonna see some stress relief.
So, let’s recap: To be a working parent who cooks all week long, you need to set your focus on:
- Easy One Pot Dishes
- 5 Ingredients or Less
- Slow Cookers
- Cook Once, Eat Twice
- Ready Made Main Dishes
- Ready Made Side Dishes
- Frozen Veggies
- Buy in Bulk
- Plan Ahead
- Share the Cooking Duties
Don’t forget to sign up to get my meal plan for the week! Get ready to dump the meal time stress & start taking turns in the kitchen! It’s time, girl, it’s time!