BlueSuitMom's Working Mom
In the Kitchen
One of the biggest challenges of being a working mom is dealing with the dinner hour. After a long day of work, mustering up the energy to make a nutritious, home-cooked meal isn't always likely. We've found several products and cookbooks that can help make getting dinner on the table a little easier.
It should come as no surprise that BlueSuitMom readers named the Crock Pot as one of their top Must-Have Products for working moms. Crock pots may have once been considered a relic of the 1970s, but for working moms they are making quite the comeback. It just takes a few minutes in the morning to prepare a few ingredients and toss them in the crock. Hours later you arrive home to a delicious, home-cooked meal.
Here's what a few of our readers have to say about their crock pots:
"I am a single, full-time working mom with four kids. I have found the crock pot to be an indispensable item. I'm not the best meal planner, but I can throw together frozen meat, an envelope of soup mix, and broth and have a great meal waiting for us when we get home." – Linda B., working mom with four children
"My crock pot makes life easier. Being able to put everything in a crock pot in the morning makes evenings a ton better. Then lunch the next day is leftovers. Some recipes taste good cold or on sandwiches!" – Karen Perea, working mom with three children
"I could not live without my slow cooker. We use it at least two or three times a week. I feel like I can still give my family a balanced meal without the time necessary to prepare things in the oven or stove."
– Jenny Rippy, working mom with two children
Must Have Cookbook: Fix It and Forget It Big Cookbook
The best thing about this cookbook is the volume of recipes. The 1,400 recipes cover just about every type of food, from Chicken Breasts with Rosemary to Slow Cooker Spaghetti to Fruited Wild Rice with Pecans to German Potato Soup. With that many recipes, you are sure to find meals that your family will love, and you'll love the easy preparation. Fix It and Forget It Big Cookbook is available at online and brick and mortar bookstores around the country and at Amazon.com.
Make Ahead Meals
Instead of picking up dinner through a drive-thru, you can have a hot dinner on the table in just minutes, if you've done the prep work in advance. In the last few years, meal assembly kitchens have been gaining in popularity as moms have discovered that you can create several weeks' worth of meals in just a couple of hours. Stores like Dream Dinners and Let's Dish save you time by having the ingredients prepared ahead of time so you don't have to chop the onions or dice the green peppers. You also don't have to come up with the meal plan or recipes. You show up at your appointed time and mix the ingredients together. After assembling dishes such as Chicken Mirabella or Beef Roast with Mushroom Gravy, you take your meals home to stick in the freezer. Then on the day you want to eat your frozen meal, defrost it in the fridge and cook according to the instructions.
You don't have to go to a meal assembly store in order to prepare your meals in advance; you can do it at home with a little planning and the help of a cookbook like Holly Clegg's Trim & Terrific Freezer Friendly Meals.
Days Ago Digital Day Counter
If you ever find yourself wondering how long the jar of baby food, container of leftovers, or bottle of breast milk has been in the fridge, then you need the Days Ago Digital Day Counter. Stick the digital monitor on the container lid with the magnet or suction cup or attach around a bottle or jar with the rubber band, and you'll know if the food is still edible. Days Ago can also be used in other areas around the house to serve as a reminder of when a plant was watered or when you last changed your air filter.
This handy kitchen appliance combines a steamer and blender so that you can prepare baby food all in one container, leaving you with less mess to clean up. The BabyCook takes the guesswork out of how long to cook your baby's veggies, fruit or meat. All you have to do is fill the steam reservoir with water, add your peeled and diced ingredients to the container, and set the dial to steam. When the food is ready, the BabyCook automatically turns off – so you don't have to worry if you got distracted by a crying baby while preparing your baby's meal. Next you remove the food from the steaming basket and place into the blending container. In less than 15 minutes you have healthy, homemade baby food. The BabyCook is dishwasher safe and BPA-free. The BabyCook is a bit pricey at around $150, but it does make making homemade baby food easier. Available from Williams-Sonoma.
Black and Decker Cyclone Blender
BlueSuitMom reader Cindy McBey said, "I am a working mom with a young school-age child and an infant and love the Magic Bullet. If you want to test that one out, it's great for the quick breakfast or after-school snack smoothie, I make a homemade apple sauce to pack for school and soon will puree foods for the baby – without having to be Martha Stewart or spend all day doing it. A microwave, some water, and the food to pulverize is all I'll need. It's also been great for other things like making a thrown-together tomato sauce when pasta's on the table and I realize I'm out of the jarred variety, and for desserts like shakes and a chocolate mousse." Cindy is the Proprietor of Cindy Lee Associates.
Every kitchen needs a blender, and although blenders aren't new technology, today's modern blenders offer some advantages in terms of speed and power. We recently tested the Black & Decker Cyclone Blender and found that it was more powerful than our previous blender. The contour of the jar helps create a "cyclone" that you can see when blending a smoothie or pureeing soups. This blender even crushes ice with ease. We liked that the jar of this blender is made from a hefty feeling glass and not plastic. With a retail price under $30, we think you can't go wrong with the Cyclone.
BlueSuitMom's Working Mom Must Haves and Great Finds:
Over the next year, we'll continue to add to the list, so if you know of something we missed, please send us an email.