Working moms, how do you manage making dinner?

When you work long days, how do you get dinner on the table?

I got a distressed note from a reader yesterday. A mom who works long hours outside the home, she has precious little time to spend with her children in the evening. Because she has so much to cram into just a few hours, trying to get cooked-from-scratch meals on the table nightly is more than she can pull off (without ignoring her kids or developing superhuman powers.) Instead of feeling encouraged by this month’s topic, the reader felt “like a failure.”

I want to make a couple of things clear to everyone reading:

  • If my words imply that I think processed foods or boxed foods are less good, it doesn’t mean I think you’re LESS of a mother if you use them. I use them–and I’m a darn good mom.
  • That said, I do believe that unprocessed foods are better for us, for the most part, than processed foods. It doesn’t have to mean a perfect dinner every night, but I think food is important and that we all function better when we eat enough fruits and veggies, fiber, and essential nutrients–which aren’t always easy to get on a diet of mostly processed, prepared foods. And I’m reminding myself of that as much as anyone else when I talk about that here, so believe me when I say I am not standing in judgment.
  • I don’t believe you have to prepare meals from scratch every night, never go near a drive-thru, or consume nothing but organic, local seasonal veggies to have a “good enough” diet. I think there are small changes any one of us can make that add up to a difference.. Maybe it’s learning a cooking technique that makes cooking a meal just as easy as reaching for the pizza guy’s number. Maybe it’s serving a steamed veggie on the side of that mac and cheese.

I’m a working mom, but I have the benefit of an extremely flexible lifestyle that allows me more time to think about and and prepare for mealtime than a lot of moms who work outside the house. I’d love to hear from working moms with demanding schedules who have great tips on how to make mealtime less of a hassle, less expensive and a little more enjoyable for Mom. Have you figured out a way to bring more veggies and unprocessed foods to the dinner table–even when time and energy are a premium? Or maybe you’ve decided to embrace the “good enough” dinner but concentrate on healthier snacks. What are your go-to solutions? How do you set priorities? How do you handle juggling mealtime and just-got-home-from-work-and-everybody-needs-me time? Please weigh in here in the comments.

While I’ve got your attention, I’d like to ask for your help. As you know, I’m on vacation this week and have not been campaigning hard for the SAM-e Good Mood Blogger gig. Round 1 ends tomorrow and I’ve slipped down to #19 in the rankings! I HAVE to stay in the top 20 to go on to round 2, and my status is seriously threatened…and as tomorrow is my son’s 13th birthday and we’ll be at Universal Studios all day, I doubt I’ll be doing much begging for votes. Can you help? I would so appreciate your facebooking and tweeting about the contest, as well as your votes. And remember, if you blog my voting link, you’ll get an extra entry in my giveaway for an immersion blender and great cookbook!


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