Working Mom, Health Dinner Meals

Updated on October 11, 2013
J.S. asks from West Monroe, LA
18 answers

So i am a full time working mom, and my husband works well over full time. I try to cook every night to stay away from fast food. However, I seem to be in a rut. I feel like i am cooking the same thing over and over again. I really like to use the crock pot. I make veg beef soup, salsa chicken, gumbo, and roast in the crock pot. What do you other working moms do to keep a variety in your house? I need new ideas and pinterest isn't helping lol.

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So What Happened?

I've got some great ideas from all of y'all (thank you!) hopefully i can expand my options. I have thought about the freezer meals, but I never seem to have enough time to get everything together and meal prep time. I might have to send the kiddo to his grandma for an afternoon and try to do that. I love anything dumped in a crock pot and cooked so that would be right up my alley! lol

Featured Answers



answers from Detroit on

I like to have the same basic ingredients and present them differently on busy week nights, like baked potatoes (topped with steamed broc, cheese, salsa, tomatoes, kidney beans -or chili) and tacos (topped with almost exactly the same stuff). Easy, and some is already prechopped the night before.

I also like to make big pots of soup or chili in the crockpot, then freeze the leftovers. Before heading to work, I pull out a frozen jar of something, and let it defrost in the fridge all day. I also do this with lasagne. When I cook, it's always in batches.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

We are so busy I'm in a position of quick but healthy. I'll heat up some chicken and then mix it with rice or pasta and some vegetable. I'll put pork chops in those oven bags with a little water ginger and paprika. All taste very good says my family. Spagetti night, Lasagna on the weekend that last a few days.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Washington DC on


Make a menu for the week. It really does help you. Spend Sunday afternoon browsing through cookbooks and recipes, look in your cabinets and freezer to find out what you have in stock, then look at the sales fliers and then plan your shopping list.

If you send me a PM - I will send you the Mamapedia Cookbook that one of our mom's put together.

Here's one..

Beef Bourguignon with Red Wine
1 lb. bacon, cooked, reserve grease
3 lbs. beef, cubed
1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 ribs celery, sliced
2 carrots, diced
4 to 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

Slowly cook bacon in large skillet; remove to Crockpot. Dredge beef cubes in flour, brown in bacon fat. Transfer meat from skillet to Crockpot. Sauté vegetables and garlic in bacon fat; remove to Crockpot.

Lemon Dill Chicken

Chicken – three to four boneless, skinless breasts, washed
Butter – one cup
White wine – (if desired) 1/8 cup
Garlic – fresh or powdered, to taste
Salt – 1 tsp
Paprika – 2 tsp
Dill – a lot (to taste)
Sliced mushrooms – fresh or jarred

Melt butter in heavy skillet. Add wine, garlic, salt, paprika and dill, stir. Add chicken, cover. Cook on medium low heat (not boiling) for 25 to 30 minutes, turning chicken midway through cooking. Serve over rice or noodles.

this is one of our new family favorites!!

Cheesy Taco Pasta
8 oz wheat pasta (I used Barilla medium shells)
1 lb 95% lean ground beef
1 oz packet reduced sodium taco seasoning
1 ½ c chunky salsa
½ c water
¼ c fat free sour cream
¾ c shredded 2 % reduced fat cheddar cheese
¾ c shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used extra sharp)
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
2. While pasta is cooking, place ground beef in a large sauté pan and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the beef as it cooks. When the beef is cooked, drain any grease from pan. Add the taco seasoning, salsa and water and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes or until pasta is done cooking.
3. Once pasta is done, drain pasta and add it to the beef mixture. Add the sour cream, cheese, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Cheese will melt when thoroughly mixed. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Yields 6 (1+ cup*) servings.

Butternut Squash and Sausage Casserole

One butternut squash
One l lb sausage
One 1lb Hamburger
One onion
Maple Syrup OR Brown Sugar
Salt & Pepper

Peel and cube butternut squash, while cooking hamburger, steam squash.

Cook sausage, hamburger onion. Drain fat from meat.

Combine steamed squash. Stir. Add maple syrup or brown sugar to taste. I put about 2 Tablespoons of each in. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve HOT!!

Broccoli Casserole

16 oz broccoli florets (frozen bag is fine, thawed)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 egg
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup onion - finely chopped ( you can put in less - we like onions)
2 cups crushed cheese crackers
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put broccoli in large bowl. Add in egg, mushroom soup, shredded cheese, mayonnaise onion and cayenne pepper. Once thoroughly combined, put in casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, combine crushed crackers and melted butter - coat the crackers.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes until golden brown.

Hopefully these will get you started


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My typical crockpot meals:

Whole chicken - season with my go-to spice mix that I make in a large batch and put in a shaker, throw a whole lemon and some herbs in the cavity, wrap some potatoes in foil and place on the bottom of the pot with some large slices of onion, place chicken on top and cook. The potatoes cook nicely and keep the chicken off the bottom so it's not stewing in juice all day.

Sweet and sour pork (chops or cheap ribs), served over rice

Country-style ribs and beans - a couple of cans of kidney beans, browned country-style pork ribs, a small bottle of A1 and a jar of jalapeno jelly. Mix the jelly and sauce, put in beans, ribs, jelly/sauce mix and let cook. The ribs are tender, sweet and spicy and the beans are yummy too.

Some girlfriends and I got together last winter and spent a day doing freezer meals for the crock pot. You assemble everything at once, bag and freeze. Then the night before you need a meal, you throw it in the fridge and the next day, dump the bag into the crock pot and out the door you go.

For non-crockpot meals, I really like things you can throw in the oven. Chicken legs are great - they're cheap, easy and flavorful. Just season them, throw in a baking dish (lined with foil for easy clean up), bake for about a half hour, add some BBQ sauce, bake a little longer and you're done. Pork tenderloin is very fast - sear in a skillet on the stove, finish in the over for 10 - 15 minutes, make a pan sauce and you're done. Fish topped with buttered breadcrumbs, parsley, lemon, salt and pepper and baked is easy and flavorful. For salmon, I pour some soy sauce and honey into a baking dish, let the salmon soak in that for a while (you can do in the morning and put in the fridge), then bake until opaque.

We also like frozen meatballs with pasta or as subs.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Huntington on

I just did my monthly meal plan. Here it is:
Beef and broccoli (done in crock pot) over rice (rice cooker makes it even easier)
Chili (crockpot) and cornbread (kids make it)
Pumpkin bread (I will make the night before), scrambled eggs, bacon
Roasted chipotle chicken (, mashed cauliflower, green salad
Meat loaf, mashed potatoes, green salad
Orange chicken stir fry over rice
Baked Ziti (easy kind- storebought marinara)
Sandwiches and tomato soup (canned)
Pigs in a blanket, green salad, cut up fruit
Lasagna soup (crockpot)
Smoky maple bbq chicken, coleslaw, storebought rolls
breakfast sandwiches and hash browns
White chicken chili
Chicken noodle soup (leftover from last week- in freezer)
Frozen lasagna, garlic bread and broccoli (on Halloween- need something easy)
Cheesy chicken and stuffing (easy recipe- i make my kids put it together, that is how easy it is!) with rice and green salad
Ribs (on our anniversary)

I work full time but cook from scratch a lot. But I also try to find some shortcuts for those busy nights such as
-Breakfast for dinner
-some storebought/packaged items like rolls, sauces or canned soup pn busy nights
-Kids know how to cook and will help
-Make double batches and freeze for another night
-Cook the night before

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I am in a rut, too! I cook every night and I feel so bored with it lately.

Google pork chop recipes - I do mine simple, with some coconut oil on a skillet, spices like dried sage, dill, etc, garlic, pepper - whatever you like. Then I sautee some peppers, onions and fresh garlic cloves (add toward the end to avoid burning) in a separate skillet as a side/topper for the chops.

I love to slice up red potatoes and season them pretty heavily, the fry them up in some coconut or olive oil.

My go-to when trying to get it on the table fast is pasta - we use gluten free, but whole wheat is great too - one we love is fresh hot pasta, topped with a cold mixture of lots of diced, fresh roma's, diced fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and a dash of italian dressing and olive oil to your preference. Mix that up, add some salt and pepper, and pour the cold mixture over the hot pasta right before you serve.

I like to "make my own" garlic bread - I get a crusty loaf from the store, then top it with garlic butter spread, or just regular butter, add some garlic salt and lots of fresh shredded mozz, brush the bottom with olive oil then bake a few, broil a few. YUM

Beef stroganof in the crock is so good and easy.

Do a whole chicken in the crock. It takes such little work and is so good.

Italian sausage soup (AKA winter soup) - OMG to die for. I can send you my recipe, or google "winter soup" and pick the one that sounds good to you. I use italian sausage, spinach (which you cannot taste and the kids eat it up!) and carrots, white beans, etc. It is so easy and so good.

Wet burritos - I just made this the other day. Ground turkey, onion, taco seasoning (you can use store bought or make your own for healthier alternative), refried beans, throw it all in tortillas, mix 12 oz sour cream with a can of cream of mushroom soup (I normally don't use this kind of stuff but it really works here and you don't get much on each burrito), spread a little of sour cream mixture on bottom of 9x13 casserole, stuff your whole wheat tortillas with the meat mixture, top with the sour cream mixture and lots of shredded shart cheddar. Bake at 350 for 25, take foil off at the end for 5 minutes to make sure cheese is nice and melted.

Bison chili is amazing if you can get your hands on some. I can send you my recipe for that, too.

Stuffed shells



All of the above I make after coming home from working full time, or I put some in the crock. My lasagna tastes best in the crock, and I just made meatloaf in the crock and it was amazing!
I could go on and on!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I get in ruts as well. The nights we have all 6 kids, I stick to the same boring menu because everyone seems to be picky. I can't stand slaving in the kitchen to hear grumbles at the table that they don't like what I've made. When it's just my husband, myself and our daughter, I branch out and get more creative. Some of my family staples are spaghetti, tacos/burritos, ham steak and macaroni and cheese, manwhich, hamburgers on the grill, chicken on the grill with a side and veggies, steak on the grill with a side and veggies, breakfast for dinner, and pizza. Some of the crockpot meals I've made are beef stroganoff and a pork tenderloin roast. With the pork roast add bbq sauce, shred, and put on hamburger buns. It's quite tasty.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

We love:
Pulled pork...sandwiches one night...nachos another.
Shredded chicken in many options!!! can make enchiladas or make chicken and dumplings or just season, add a veggie and roll/biscuit.

We make chili mac... spaghetti noodles w no bean chili, sauce (ketchup and Worcestershire) add onions/cheese and parmesan if you like.

Ditto making the double batches for stuff and freezing for another night. So nice to know you have it!

Ditto the breakfast for dinner!! best thing ever!!

Added: Forgot chicken or pork chops with mushroom (or similiar soup) and Stove Top stuffing. Put chicken/pork in a pan mix 1-2 cans of soup with 1-2 packages of stuffing. Put on top of meat, cover and bake. Fast easy and good!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I made it two full months without repeating a meal. WOW! I was surprised. We tried lots of new things (I asked a lot of mom's on here) and we rarely eat out at all. If we do, it's pre-planned into our schedule and budget.

I will message you the different meals I made if you'd like. I don't have them on this computer, so send me a message if you want them and I'll send them to you on Monday.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

My good friend writes a food blog for busy families who want healthy meals. It's called

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You can also do tacos, fajitas, "leftovers for dinner", breakfast for dinner, pizza (make your own or out of a box), spaghetti, stir fry/vindaloo, fish...

How old are the kids? Can they plan a meal?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I don't really cook. I heat up chicken and we just have fresh stuff with it, like vegetables and fruit. Fish sometimes. I'm at home and I don't even have time to do hardly that amount of food prep, let alone sit down and eat it. The kids are all so small.

Kudos to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I make all of the following in the crock pot if you want recipes pm me.

Ranch/taco chicken
Herb roasted chicken
Greek chicken /potatoes
Bbq chicken
Pork chops
Pork tenderloin
Pork roast
Italian beef
Italian sausage and peppers
Swiss steak
Beer chicken
Beef stew

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wichita Falls on

We do breakfast for dinner once a week. In addition to being fast, it's also cheap. (kids love it)

Spaghetti and meatballs
Sloppy joes and raw veggies
Chicken tortilla soup

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Rachel Ray has a cookbook called 365: No Repeats that I've recently gotten into. I don't love everything in there, but that's like every cookbook I suppose. I make a meal plan either Saturday or Sunday and then I try to do all the prep work on Sunday. I chop all the veggies and put together all the spices I can and then put them in a large freezer bag and store them in either the fridge or freezer. Then, the day of the meal, I just pull those out plus the meat or whatever else I need and put it together. The meals from Rachel Ray's cookbook are all 30 minutes or less. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

O. thing that has helped me keep a variety is to use a small notebook or notecards and write O. entree on each page/card.
I'm sure you have a wider repertoire than you think, and seeing the ideas helps you plan the week.

Super quick?
Thawed chicken tenderloins into a ziplock bag. Add olive oil on bag to coat. Add seasoned breadcrumbs to coat. Place on sprayed cookie sheet & bake 20 min. on 350. Nothing more delicious! Or easier. (Make twice what you'll eat that night.) add a veggie/salad.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I like meals I can make the night before and then pop in the oven when I get home, like meatloaf and lasagna. Plus they usually have leftovers and no one in our house minds eating them a couple of days in a row.



answers from Chattanooga on

Have you looked at the freezer cooking for crock pots on Pinterest?

You basically prepare a bunch of recipes on one day, the. All you have to do for cooking is remember to pull something out the day before, dump it in the crock pot, and cook. It works well with lots of recipes!

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