Meals for Practice, Game & Other Activities Nights

Spring is such a busy time around my town.  Many moms I know are so happy when summer arrives because evenings less hectic, since we usually don’t have to cart kids around to practices/games/scout meetings/lessons/club meetings plus still get home for dinner, homework, baths/showers as well as getting them to bed in time so they’ll get off to school the next morning on time with hair neatish, teeth brushed, homework completed and fed breakfast.  Lately I’ve noticed requests and conversations about how to feed kids on those hectic spring evenings when they have all those after school activities.  Especially if a mom/dad has more than one kid in a variety of sports with different days and times when these are scheduled.  

Fresh vegetables are easy to take with you.

Fresh vegetables are easy to take with you.

So, how to get kids fed nutritious food they’ll eat as well as not drive us crazy trying to prepare in the 50 seconds we’re home? 
I’ve had a few posts with 10-20 minute recipes and other suggestions here, here, here and here

Crockpots are a wonderful way to have dinner ready when you’ll be home for enough time it takes to eat.  I’ve made stews, ratatouille, chili, soups in mine.  

  • Cooking a pork butt to make pulled pork is always a kid pleaser.  (Cooking the pork one day letting it cool in fridge overnight makes it easier to remove the fat.  Just reheat portions with bbq sauce).  I often serve it with coleslaw and either over noodles or on rolls. You can even wrap with foil to bring to your game/practice, etc.  
  • Chicken stew with dumplings my mother-in-law introduced me to is a family favorite. Using the left-overs for a chicken pot pie stretches the one into two meals.   
  • Roasting a chicken whole. Slice onions and line bottom of crockpot.  Remove the giblets/neck and stuff chicken loosely with celery, carrots, thyme.  Coat it with olive oil, salt pepper and Penzy’s Mural of Flavor Spice/Herb Mix and cook for 6 hours on top of the onions low.  You can use the leftover bones to make stock in same crockpot. 

What if we’re not home at dinner-time?  Picnic-style dinners to bring with you, maybe even eat in the car.  
Cucumbers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers are fabulous to travel with and you can always bring some Ranch dressing if your kids like it.  Yesterday we met with friends and I had a store-prepared tabouli, hummus, couple of cheeses, crackers, carrots, olives and yogurt squeezers with a bottle of seltzer.  This was fine to tide them over or even to give them a balanced meal. 


Cold pasta salad with vegetables & pesto

Cold pasta salad with vegetables & pesto

Tomatoes sliced, basil chiffonade...

Tomatoes sliced, basil chiffonade…

CSA greens, Tatsoi & Cilantro salad

CSA greens, Tatsoi & Cilantro salad

As I mentioned before you can wrap sandwiches in foil as well as burritos, quesadillas, and even full meals.  There are so many containers out there to help you manage eating on the run.  

If you have time before they get home from school plus the creativity and patience it takes, you can make fun bento-style containers for each kid.  I love looking at some of the designs out there, but I’ve never had the time nor inclination to do it myself!

Quiche/Egg Pie – whether you make it or buy it many kids will like this classic egg pie. There are so many varieties with various ingredients.  My kids love the NZ version with 2 crusts: Bacon & Egg Pie.

So, no need to always go to the drive-through at fast food chains or always stopping to pick up a pizza.  It can be done with either some preparation or just a little planning. And summer is just around the corner!  (Even though it feels as though winter finally just ended.)


Dinner in 10.

At story time in the library yesterday a mother mentioned she never cooks because she doesn’t have time. Instead of saying I completely understand because my time is crazed right now and I have no time, I told her she could try some recipes I’d just cooked.  One I told her, took as long as boiling the pasta to make.  Her interest was piqued.  Now, I probably should have told her that I was up until 1:30 last night sorting and folding laundry because I’d let it go to the point of digging socks and underwear out of the mountain filled baskets, but I didn’t want to tarnish my super-mommy image (actually nobody who knows me thinks I am supermom, because I am usually honest about how messy my house is and how I just can’t do it all).  Ah, but one can dream and pretend for a day. 

I know that some people choose to keep a tidy house over cooking meals for their kids and I do have some friends that have tidy homes and cook great meals (even a couple that hold fulltime jobs) but they’re just much more organized and less ADD than me!  I have a cluttered office, an over abundance of toys to weed through, a laundry situation that constantly eludes me, and a back yard that will soon win the WT award.   Cause truth is I’d rather be cooking than cleaning, I’d rather be writing than cleaning and I’d rather have an over scheduled schedule than cleaning.  Now, if I start making more money I can hire someone to come clean regularly… ooh, and if I make tons I can hire someone to do my laundry.  Well, that means getting more clients and that takes a lot of time.  But, for now, messy house and laundry up the wazoo.


Back to the food… Here is one of recipes I told her about.  It took about 10 minutes.  


Shrimp Bianco with Spinach and Tomatoes


1 pound frozen de-veined shrimp

1/4 onion (or 1 shallot) finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

handful parsley, chopped

baby spinach (I used what I had from my CSA about 2 cups)

handful cherry tomatoes, cut in half

3 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup cream

1/4 cup white wine

sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 pound thin spaghetti


Run cool water over shrimp to thaw, set aside.  Put salted water on to boil.  Chop the onion, garlic and parsley.  Heat olive oil and sauté the onions then add garlic, making sure neither get brown.  Add shrimp and when they’re just turning pink add wine, cream, parsley. Stir for 30 seconds then add spinach and tomatoes and salt and pepper.  As soon as spinach is wilted, strain spaghetti and toss with shrimp mixture.  Serve. 


My kids loved this dish.  I loved that I made it so quickly.  I was seriously considering getting a pizza, but managed to save money and give something a little more nutritious in less time than it would have taken for the pizza delivery person to drive over here.  And there was not a single whine at the dinner table! 


Unfortunately because it was so quick, I didn’t have my camera ready during the cooking process. Next time!