Recipe Open Thread: Give Us Your Best Summer Recipes for Working Moms!

summer recipes for working momsWhen readers took the survey a while back, many of you noted that you wanted to see more recipes for working moms. Recipes aren’t really my forte (I cook a lot of the same, easy weeknight dinners on repeat) but we’ve started including recipes in our weekly news roundups. Today, let’s have a proper recipe open thread: Which are your best recipes right now, ladies? Which summer recipes work with your work schedule?

I always forget that I hate the oven in summertime, and every time the weather gets hot I’m left wracking my brain for new recipe ideas. We just made slow cooker Korean Tacos from this recipe on Hellobee (DELICIOUS! So happy we tried it!), and it’s definitely going into our summer rotation. The recipe calls for 8 hours on low, but you can easily add more time. (You can also start with frozen flank steak and/or try it with cauliflower rice — the dish pictured above has a mix of white rice and cauliflower rice, flank steak, cucumber slaw we made at the very last minute, and sriracha. YUM. Other summer recipes in heavy rotation now:

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Dinnertime Fun: Making Separate Meals for Kids

Making Separate Meals for Kids: Working Moms Talk Dinner Strategy (and Giving In) | CorporetteMomsI will not make separate meals for kids. I, like every other new mother, told myself that frequently while my first kiddo was starting solid foods.  I am not going to be that mom! They can eat what WE eat, or else they don’t eat. I don’t have time to do dinosaur nuggets! I absolutely refuse to raise a child who only eats macaroni and cheese! 

Cut to five years later, and almost every night the boys get a separate meal from what we eat. Dinosaur nuggets, no, but they do get the Dr. Praeger fishies pretty often. On our very best nights, the boys eat disaggregated versions of what we eat. If we’re having Mediterranean Stew with stew meat, tomatoes, and zucchini, the boys may get a bowl of broth (strained so there are no “green pieces”), shredded stew meat, and — if I’m feeling really crazy — a zucchini or two on their plate, perhaps coated in cheese. (It’s a crutch, I know! I’ve started splurging on real Parmesan cheese after reading about how many wood chips are in the shelf-stable versions, though.) Another version of a “win” for me is when I can use the same oven temperature (and, dare to dream, time) for the boys’ food as for ours.

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Meal Planning Apps for Working Moms

meal planning appsLadies, do you have any favorite meal planning apps?  Have you tried and abandoned any? Reader M wonders:

Are there any resources that you have gathered/written about for meal planning for working moms? I am looking for a good app or system that will help!

We actually have talked about this in general, rounding up 5 family dinner strategies better than delivery, as well as having a nice discussion about how to share dinner duties between two working parents — but we haven’t talked directly about apps (and I have a good one!), so let’s discuss — I’m always curious to hear what people are using!

We keep trying different things here at Casa Griffin.  We fell off The Fresh 20 because the meal prep was just too involved for the time we wanted to invest — we also don’t eat at home reliably 5 nights a week, and adjusting the shopping list to only 4 nights took a surprising amount of thought.  Prior to that we had a system of just cooking 10 easy meals “on rotation,” but we got bored with that.  I, too, was seeking an app that would help with meal planning, shopping lists, and also hold the recipe so I could consult it if I needed to in the store.  (Or am I the only one who, when faced with a food item I can’t find, consults the recipe and says, “well, screw it, they only want 1Tbsp of shallots anyway!” and moves on?)  I really like the free app we’ve found: Pepperplate. It has a web version, as well as an app for my iPhone and my iPad, and I’ve set it up on my husband’s phone as well (which gives him ready access to the recipes and shopping lists as well).  The program can import recipes from some of its partner sites (allegedly), but it’s also easy enough to add recipes manually.  (I like that you can add a picture — they’re always my favorite part when looking for recipes!) When you’re sitting down to do the meal planning for the week you add a specific recipe to a calendar, making it easy for your partner or a helpful third party (nanny, au pair, whomever) to know what the plan is for that night.  And one of the things I like best is that you can add all of the recipe ingredients to a single shopping list where items are grouped by general grocery store section (dairy, meat, etc) and consolidated.  (You can also pick and choose which ingredients to add to the shopping list, which is always helpful when you already have 60% of what you need in the house.)

One tip: I keep a backup of all my recipes in B-Folders (which doesn’t have an iPhone app, so it can’t quite serve the same purpose). Both in Pepperplate and in B-Folders, I organize recipes by putting the meal in the title of the recipe, so if I’m sorting by alphabet I see all of my BF (breakfast) or MD (main dishes) together.  I also put notations like MD:CP in the main title (so all of my crockpot main dishes are together), and I tag them with words like “slow cooker, clean, low carb, etc” since I sometimes go on and off different eating regimens. (Pictured: Spicy pork posole, from Self magazine many moons ago!)

This Lifehacker article rounds up some other apps, including the Lifehacker reader favorite, CookSmarts (currently $6-$8 a month).  Ladies, what meal planning apps do you use? If you’re still on the hunt, what are you looking for in one? If you’ve found a system other than an app, what do you use? 

Social media picture credit: Pixabay.

best meal-planning apps for working moms

Five Family Dinner Strategies Better than Delivery

working-moms-dinnersFamily dinners can be a constant headache for busy parents. Before we had kids, my husband and I either ate out, ordered, or made fairly intricate recipes that were fun for both of us to make together — lots of chopping and prepwork. After we had Jack (our firstborn), a lot of things changed. While it’s always easy to just order dinner from Seamless, we’ve tried a number of different ways to actually cook food for the family — so I thought I’d round up five strategies for family dinners that are better than ordering food for delivery…

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Family Dinners and Working Parents

family dinners and working parentsToday’s fun topic: how does your family navigate dinnertime with two parents working outside the home? Are you able to be together for family dinners on weeknights? Who cooks, who plans, who shops? (Or, who picks up takeout?) How early do you start dinner to negotiate bedtime rituals like a bath and storytime? More fun questions about family dinners and working parents:

  • does one parent always work late? both?
  • does one parent have an unpredictable schedule that leaves the other parent guessing?
  • do you have an agreement, like “if you’re not home by 6:30, the kids and I are going to start eating” or “I will call by 6:00 if I think I’m going to be working late tonight”?
  • does one parent come home to eat with the family and then return to the office to continue working?
  • are there certain days of the week when you make sure to have a family dinner?
  • do you have any mealtime “rituals,” like “what was the best/worst part of your day?”?
  • do you make and freeze food ahead of time to make dinnertime easier, or maybe a nanny helps get food ready?
  • how has dinnertime changed since your days pre-kids?

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