Working 9 to 5 (and still feeding the family)

Astute watchers of VS will have noticed that I’ve been a bit absent. Never one to veer into idleness, I’ve gone and filled up my spare middle-of-the-day hours with a part time job that landed in my lap quite fortuitously. Too scared to resist fate, I’ve gone with it, figuring I can still tend Vegie Smugglers well in the hours left over.

Interestingly, after ‘living the dream’ of working from home for a year, I find I’m happy to be back out in the workforce. Seems I quite like having a reason to chuck on some lippie and I quite like contact with real people. But immediately I’m thrown back into those fraught post-work dinnertimes where the kids are cranky, I’m tired and the fridge is ominously empty.

But it doesn’t have to be a disaster. It is possible to work all day and still feed the kids a healthy dinner. Here’s how…

PLAN

Yes, I know. Boring. But as the old cliché goes, fail to plan, plan to fail. Spending an hour on your weekend or day off doing a menu plan and large grocery shop will ensure you have everything you need for food success, all week. If you hate doing it, buy my e-book. I even give you shopping lists and meals for 6 weeks. Or use one of my free plans as a guide. Click here or click here.

EBB & FLOW

When you make your plan, you’ll hopefully see the spots in your week where cooking is possible. Grab these opportunities and make larger than you need quantities. Especially things you can freeze, or rejig for the next night. Make a meatloaf that will feed you tonight, and still tastes good sliced on toasties tomorrow. Or cook enough pasta for a leftover pasta frittata.

FREEZER LOVIN’

No matter what your work status, your freezer is your friend. Use it. Love it. Stack it. Bless it on those nights when you get home to find absolute chaos erupting.

Try filling it with these (click the pic to go to the recipe)…

Adam's bolognaise

Bolognaise actually tastes better after a sit in the freezer. Genius!

End the war with a stockpile of mash in the freezer.

Freeze in portions then reheat and mix with tinned tuna & extra cheese.

vegie smugglers chicken pasta and vegetable soup

Pasta, chicken and bacon amongst the vegies…and it defrosts just fine.

This recipe makes plenty - freeze some of this too.

Freeze in small containers and you can always make a quick healthy pizza.

My kids love these so much, they don't care about what's inside.

My kids ate these weekly for almost two years.

DINNER SOS

And on the nights when it’s all gone totally pear shaped? English muffin pizzas, eggs pots, microwave rice with packet tofu & frozen vegies, scrambled egg wraps with smoked salmon & avocado, toasties with tuna, cheese & corn, or good old 2-minute noodles (ditch the flavour sachets) with frozen vegies. Or grab sushi on your way home (avoid fried ingredients or mayo).

No matter what the dinner outcome, the main thing is to relax and remember that the most important part of every evening routine is the cuddle and kiss with your gorgeous little terrors at bedtime. All is forgiven in that moment of stillness.

Got other good ideas for instant dinners? Make sure you share them below…

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16 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Natural New Age Mum said,

    Great tips Wendy and yes, we have missed you!!! xxx

    • 2

      wendyblume said,

      awww, thanks sonia! combining new job/illness and finishing a cookbook has made life very hectic. Back on my feet now, but still trying to keep life a bit relaxed – turns out I quite like it! Feeling blessed. x

  2. 4

    Gen said,

    We missed you too!
    Some of our favorite easy meals are: Poached eggs on toast. We have chickens so it really is fast food for us. Takes about 5 mins.
    My fave noodles are organic ramen – I think the brand is hakubaku. They take 4 min so still very fast but without any nasty ingredients.
    I also used to make a Mexican beef mince that had heaps of veggies in it (kidney beans, corn, onion, tomato etc) and I’d freeze it in portions. We use it for tacos, nachos or any Mexican themed meal.
    And of course spaghetti bolognese. Freeze extras and can use it for lasagne, pasta, baked potato or even in puff pastry.

  3. 6

    Jodi said,

    Thought you had been a bit quiet. Have missed you. I too am a big fan of the freezer and of planning ahead. I like to make my menu plan to make sure that over the week there is a good balance of different meals.

  4. 8

    Alli said,

    On tragic post work nights we do brinner. Breakfast for dinner! Omelettes or even the full sautéed spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and poached eggs. This probably occurs in our house about once a month!

  5. 10

    Annie said,

    Congrats on the job and great to have you back. I’m worrying about going back to work so thanks for the advice. Our standbys are tuna rice (can of tuna plonked on rice) with any veg I can find and of course spaghetti carbonara. If they could make it in secret in Italy we should be able to make it on a weeknight.
    Thx for all your posts. You are a real god-send to busy mums.

  6. 12

    Deena Kakaya said,

    Hello, congratulations on your job and successful juggling!

    You know I’d never used my freezer until i weaned my toddler and for the first time yesterday I used a pizza sauce from the freezer fir us grown-ups. Your tips are very

  7. 14

    Rebecca said,

    I ‘liked you’ a few weeks a go and gone through past blogs (is that the word, very new to this). Love your info and recipes, I do many of the tips above but please keep them coming, so helpful, fun and healthy!

  8. 16

    cblondie said,

    I know this is an old post, but thought I’d answer anyway!

    Some quick dinners that I use are
    – microwave scrambled eggs (an egg or two per person with spinach, tomato and cheese mixed through, put in the microwave for 30-60 seconds at a time, giving it a good mix between heating)
    – tomato and cheese pasta (the lazy way – with a jar of pasta sauce, but still better than take out!)
    – Quick home-made pizzas (we always keep a few pizza bases in the house! and it’s a good way to use up leftover meat and vegies from the fridge)
    – Baked salmon (something we always have in the freezer)


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