My friend Katherine, whose blog will inspire you, asked a blog-post worthy question:
"When do you do your dinner cooking? A friend of mine once referred to that 5:00 hour as "suicide hour". That's when I'm waiting on Russ to get home (by 6/6:30) and it is 50/50 as to whether the kids will be playing contentedly or hanging on my legs to be held. So- said friend recommended I do my dinner prep at nap time, so as to avoid the "suicide hour" stress. Also to decrease any resentment toward Russ for not being in a home-by-5:00 job.Enough about me- when do you fix dinners? Do you freeze much ahead of time? You seem like a "cook it all fresh" kind of girl. Discuss."
I hear you. Oh, how I hear you. I've never heard it referred to as "suicide hour," only "witching hour," but perhaps your friend's description is more accurate. I have one night a week that I know my husband will be home at a decent hour. Not only decent, remarkable. (We're talking 1:45 or 2!!!) On those nights, I might try something new or make something that requires a lot time and attention, like Stew. Every other night, I never know if he'll even be home before 7. So I do a lot of cooking with whiny children running around like crazy and/or pulling on my pant legs.
*Don't be too high and mighty to just plop those kids in front of the TV while you cook.
*If you're trying to eat all together as a family, and therefore pushing back dinner time until 6:30 or 7 (like we do around here), don't be afraid of a small late afternoon snack to sustain them.
*For the littlest ones, put all the Tupperware in one low cabinet and let the kid go to town.
*As for prepping ahead, I do sometimes. Stir-fry ingredients can be chopped, measured, etc. and stashed away until supper. Pasta and rice can be cooked ahead of time and reheated (especially handy if you make brown rice, which takes close to an hour to cook).
Dredging stations can be made and set aside until needed. (Like for Parmesan Chicken)
*I've mentioned my love of garlic and onion powders before. Not only do they serve as one less thing to be picked out of food, it also saves time- no chopping required.
*Implement a leftovers night. We called it "clean out the refrigerator" night when I was growing up. It was always a random smorgasbord of food, and I still love it.
*I rely pretty heavily on "steam-in-the-bag" veggies as a side dish. Green beans are our favorite. 5 minutes or so in the microwave, no pots to babysit, no thinking required.
Who else has suggestions? Feel free to leave them in the comments section!