By Laura Storme
Being a working woman with a family can put a lot of strain on those valuable moments with the family. You miss taking the kids to the park or taking them to the zoo because your evenings and weekends are crammed full of cooking the evening meal, running errands and doing laundry. It doesn’t have to be that way. Your evenings and weekends can be full of carefree adventures and little housework so that Saturday’s are just tidying up odds and ends and Sunday’s can be dedicated to lounging or another family adventure.
Many women have the opportunity to work within miles of their home. When that advantage teams up with hour-long lunch breaks, crock-pots, ovens that automatically turn on and off, and washers and dryers in your home, you have opportunities galore for cutting time into your weekends. Each day an activity can be assigned or a meal can be prepared at lunch to cook while you’re at work or both to make your evening less stressful and your weekends more full of family activities.
A lot of meats can be prepped ahead of time and placed in a slow cooker. A favorite is to marinate a steak in your favorite sauce overnight and place in a low heat slow cooker for all day cooking. Remember to put the sauce in the bottom of the pot and then lay the steak inside. This will keep the steak from drying out. Pork ribs are a great slower cooker item as they work well in a bath of barbecue sauce that makes them tender and juicy. Make a double batch and shred for pulled pork sandwiches. It will freeze well and reheat easily. Another quick family favorite is soup. This is great for cold winter nights or even hot summer days when you just don’t want to cook. A few cans of chicken broth, left over chicken from Sunday supper, rice or thin egg noodles, and some vegetables make a quick supper that heats on a low heat from lunchtime on. To save on clean up time, purchase the slow cooker liners that fit down inside the slow cooker and toss when finished. This way the slow cooker isn’t sitting in the sink for days soaking. Check out any of the slow cooker cookbooks available on the market.
Learn about the advantages of your oven by looking over the owner’s manual. Most of the newer ones today will cook on a time clock and allow you to set up your dinner hours ahead of time. Mix up a meatloaf first thing in the morning or at lunchtime and place it in the oven ready to start about two hours before you’re due home. The oven will turn on and do all the work. The same goes for any piece of meat that you would like prepared while you’re working. Pot roasts, racks of ribs, hams, kielbasa, and chicken can be prepped in advanced, tucked into a nice pot and set to cook efficiently. This works well for casseroles too. Mix together your favorite ingredients and tuck it away in the oven until nice and toasty brown.
Any of the meat courses can be accompanied by baked potatoes, homemade macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes, veggie kabobs and even a few rice dishes that can be put in the oven to be cooked at the same time. Your vegetables can be simple tossed salads or steamed fresh veggies.
Dedicate Wednesday or Thursday as the beginning of laundry day. Instead of stacking up six or eight loads to do on Saturday morning, do mini loads throughout the week, starting them before you leave in the morning and drying them after work or switch them out at lunch if you’re close enough to home.
Being a working woman does have its disadvantages at times. You miss the little things in your child’s life, but if you’re very organized, you can do wonders at lunch or in the morning, to make your evenings simpler. Don’t waste any more time in the kitchen than you have to. Create marvelous meals in the morning and be a hero.