You know it’s healthier and cheaper to eat meals at home. But you have a job. You are a work outside the home mom who wants to provide the best supper for your family. With a little planning ahead and modern conveniences you can still make supper when you work late.
I’m kind of a work outside the home mom. Our dairy farm is a couple miles up the road so I can’t go out to feed calves and swing by the house to turn on the oven after feeding grain and before watering.
This is challenging because calf chores are at 4pm and supper is when we get home from chores. So I’m gone from the house for the hour and a half before supper. And sometimes longer.
Many meals I’m able to throw in the Crock Pot or oven and have it ready when I get home.
But some just don’t work that way.
Plus, if anything goes wrong at the barn, I could be gone an hour or two longer!
So, I’ve learned to do what I can ahead of time and have 20 minutes of patient hunger when I get home.
Make Supper When You Work Late: Pizza
Take Saturday nights for example: pizza night. Every Saturday night my husband has to have pizza. He is a creature of habit and I’m beginning to appreciate this side of him because it takes the guess work out of meal planning for a night!
Read More: Honoring Your Husband with Your Homemaking
But have you ever made pizza from scratch before? The dough, yeast, sausage browning, shredding cheese…
It takes a while.
So I make a double batch of pizza dough during the day. I keep half in the fridge for supper that night and throw the other half in the freezer. That way next week I can just pull out the dough at noon and it will be warmed and risen by the time I get home from chores.
At 3pm I begin prepping everything for the pizza. The pan gets greased. I cook the meat (sausage, chicken or bacon) and let it cool. [Double the meat for a meal later that week!] Then I chop the meat if needed. I shred the cheese and chop any veggies. Everything I need for my pizza gets lined up on my counter ready to go. Letting everything sit out for an hour or two isn’t going to spoil it. [If you work all day, you will have to do this in the morning or the night before and keep everything in the fridge.]
I use the delayed cook time feature on my oven so that it turns on 15 minutes before I’m planning to get home.
When I arrive home, I press out the dough, spread sauce and assemble the pizza. I can have it ready for the oven in five minutes. Much less time than it takes for the oven to preheat to 425°!
During the 20 minutes the pizza is baking I set the table and put away any remaining pizza ingredients.
Considering a frozen pizza takes 20 minutes of wait time (not including preheating the oven) and a homemade only 25 minutes – I’ll take homemade!
How to Make Supper When You Work Late
Everyone has a different lifestyle and meal preferences. But surely you will find a meal prep method or two from this list that will help you enjoy more meals at home.
8 Tips to Help You Make Supper When You Work Late
It may seem that Crock Pots have been displaced by the Instant Pot, but this traditional appliance still has a place. Crock Pots are very affordable, come in all sizes and are easy to use. [At least mine is with just a three-setting dial.]
Let a broth based soup simmer in the Crock Pot all day. Throw in lasagne or a casserole. If you know your way around recipes, go ahead an adapt your favorites to a Crock Pot.
Otherwise, there are so many Crock Pot specific recipes out there. Surely you can find a few that please your family.
The Instant Pot has all the features of a Crock Pot and then some. Read the owner’s manual and figure out how to use it to its fullest potential! Some even come with an app feature so you can have family members start supper (provided you have the food ready to go in it) without touching the appliance!
Delayed Oven Start
Many ovens come with lots of buttons. Learn how to use them! [Yes, I sat down with my owner’s manual for the first few days and learned all its functions.] One of my favorites is delay start. I can set my oven to turn on at a certain time so that supper is ready when I get home or it is preheated when I get home.
For example, I can have a pizza ready for the oven in five minutes. But the oven takes much longer than that to preheat to 425°. With the delay feature, I can have the oven start while I’m doing calf chores and come home to a hot oven!
Oven Cook Time
Are you not sure what time you’ll get home? Instead of having the oven turn on at a certain time, have it shut off for you! Usually if your meal is in a covered dish, extra time in a hot oven after shutting off won’t hurt it.
If you have fridge or freezer space for leftovers, double the amount of supper you need. Enjoy the meal fresh and then keep the rest in the fridge for you family to reheat for snacks or use as another meal in a week. Yes, most leftovers last a week and then some!
My husband and I have favorite dishes that are even more delicious the second time. Lasagne and meatloaf are just two examples where the spices and flavors blend and bloom after they sit overnight.
Adapt your favorite recipes into freezer meals if you like. Otherwise, there are tons of resources for specific freezer meals. Take a few hours on a weekend and prep two week’s worth of meals so that every morning you can pull out a meal, throw it in the crock pot and walk away. This is one of our favorite ways to eat pork chops!
Read More: Cooking for the Freezer: How to Make and Bake Ahead
Are you frying bacon for breakfast? Throw in a few extra strips for what you need in tomorrow night’s supper. Making carrot sticks or pepper sticks? Clean and chop some extra to add to meals that week. Shredding some cheese for a recipe? Shred the rest of the block for a supper recipe.
Read More: Breakfast Quiche Recipe
Having all those little steps (especially veggies!) prepped and stored in the fridge ahead of time will make meal assembly go much faster.
What about potatoes? you ask. Peel and dice them for your recipe and cover them with water. Keep them in the fridge (or on the counter if it’s just a few hours) until you are ready to make your recipe!
Fake It Til You Make It
Sometimes there is a recipe I just can’t get right. So I make it once a week until I have it mastered. I write down every little detail and tweak that I’ve made so that I can go a month without making it, pick up the recipe and make it just the way we like it.
You may have to do this, too, if you are experimenting with different oven features or a Crock Pot to help you make supper when you work late.
I recently had to do this with fried mush. I hadn’t made it in over six months so I couldn’t remember what recipe I had used. So I picked one and it was a total flop! The next week I made it again with a different recipe. It was good, but not great. I made it again the next week with all of my tweaks and it was delicious! Then I made it one more week just to cement in what I had learned.
Eating at home is better for your health and your budget. Use a few of these planning ahead and time saving tips to help you make delicious suppers when you work late.