Working Mommy Meals

It’s been a LONG while since I posted on our blog, much less visited it. So much has changed that maybe I should retitle our blog? Unfortunately Trio in the District just doesn’t have the same ring.

Anyways! My main squeeze is off playing with the college students and our little babe is asleep. So to help keep myself awake until her last feeding for the night, I decided to dedicate a post to answer a question I received several times this week at work when seeing my leftovers: How in the world do you have time to cook?

Both Joel and I work full time. I now juggle life as a new, EBF, working mom. Factoring in my commute, I am away from my home and family almost 12 hours a day. As we are adapting to the new enjoyable hecticness, one value I refuse to compromise on is eating healthy and at home as often as we can manage. In turning the page on our new family chapter, I’ve had to confront the following challenges to maintain this value: 1) Less time to go grocery shopping meaning less opportunities to keep the frig stocked with fresh foods; 2) Less time to cook especially since the first thing I do when I get home from work is feed my babe; 3) Finding meals my husband whose best kitchen skill is cooking ramen noodles can assist with since he gets home an hour or more earlier than I do (and doesn’t have to feed the babe); 4) Quick – duh – because hey – I’m getting home a 7PM; and 5) Meals that reheat well because leftovers are KEY!

So ladies and gents, here are a few of my go-to recipes with notes on how I adapt to fit our tastes and limitations:

Texas Caviar Rice Bowls

I read this recipe in my Southern Living magazine and decided to turn it into a Chipotle-style rice bowl for dinner. I make the bean dish using cannellini beans instead of black eyed peas because it is typically what I have in the pantry. I keep my freezer stocked with Trader Joes frozen brown rice, which takes just 3 minutes in the microwave to cook to perfection.  Using this as my base, I pile all the fresh goods from the recipe on the rice and then either top it with an avocado or tilapia. If I do tilapia, I marinate it in the same juice as the beans. Marinating it for 20 minutes is plenty of time to get a nice kick to the fish. And the best part about fish is it cooks up in five minutes! Not only is this meal high fiber but it reheats EXTREMELY well for lunch left overs.


Black bean spinach enchiladas

This dish is relatively healthy, except for all the cheese… But I buy the low-fat shredded cheese from Trader Joes to make me feel a little better. I also double the amount of greens the recipe calls for by adding kale and use whole wheat tortillas. After I cook up the spinach, I stir around a cup or two of kale until it looks a little wet and then mix it into the enchilada stuffing. YUMMO! (My husband didn’t even notice that there was kale). I made this up on a Saturday, and then all Joel had to do during the work week was reheat the sauce, pour it on top of the enchiladas, and put it in the oven when he got home. This makes eight enchiladas, so I froze half of it for another time.


Sweet Mustard Salmon Salad

Every time I go to Trader Joes, I restock on my frozen fish stash. I love how they package their salmon in individual packages. I try to keep about four salmon down in our deep freeze. I also typically try to keep a bag of three romaine hearts in my frig for last-minute salads or toppings. For this salad, I put dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, cucumber, tomatoes, and any other random veggie in my frig as well as some couscous or quinoa. I use a homemade honey mustard vinaigrette for the dressing on the salad.


ChickenMarinadeChicken, French green beans & mushrooms, with wild rice

I don’t have pictures or a recipe for this one because it’s so basic and easy. I keep chicken frozen with our favorite marinades. Our most recent marinade find that we are enjoying is Stubb’s Citrus and Onion Marinade. The flavors are subtle and perfect for summer. Stubb’s is also one of the few marinades I can find in the grocery store that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup.

For the beans dish, I keep French String Green Beans from Trader Joes in my freezer. I use a little butter (or coconut oil if I’m feeling healthier) and saute some white onion and garlic then throw in a container of pre-sliced baby portobello mushrooms.  After it cooks to the texture I like, I then throw in half a bag of the beans (straight from the freezer). Stir it all around and put a lid on the skillet for a few minutes to finish the dish by steaming the beans. Then I add salt and pepper to taste. The best part is it reheats well either by throwing it in the microwave or back on the skillet. If you’d prefer to use a recipe, I’ve linked one here from the Food Network that uses bell peppers instead of mushrooms. I’ve made this one too and really enjoyed it.

Finally, I buy a box of organic wild rice with the 23 herb seasoning packet. It’s the first thing I put on the stove so that the rice is finished right when the chicken and veggies are ready to be eaten.

Turkey Burgers & Sweet Potato Friesimages

I also keep frozen turkey burger patties from Trader Joes in my deep freeze as well as a bag of sweet potato fries. What we put on our turkey burgers depends on what is in the refrigerator. This week, we put left over pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, and avocados on the burger, and for the bread we used whole wheat thin sliced sandwich buns. Because most of this is frozen and the toppings are dependent upon what’s leftover from the week, I save this meal for nights when we are just absolutely exhausted or have little time between work and getting to another event.

I have several go-to, health(ier), quick recipes that I can continue to post if people find this helpful. In the mean time, you just got a glimpse into our meals this week. We’re a family of three now, but since the little one doesn’t eat real food yet, I try to cook each meal with four people in mind. This gives us left overs for lunches or for another dinner the next night.

In closing, I credit the success of all my meals to salt. Yes, my salt. I cook with Celtic Mineral Sea Salt. It is more expensive, BUT the taste is SO good and it is healthy too. It also takes me about four months to get through a bag of ground Celtic salt. If you try it, you’ll never go back. Especially if you try it by popping kernels over the stove in coconut oil and sprinkling it with the Celtic salt. TO DIE FOR. And a great bedtime snack.



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4 responses to “Working Mommy Meals

  1. Hey, Donelle. Thanks for sharing! I don’t have kiddos or a husband but I often find myself time starved and starving too! I am always looking to learn from others who are finding effective solutions for time management–especially around healthy meals! So I love this post. I love Texas Caviar. I have a can of cannelloni beans and some Tilapia (new to me. I am not a fish eater but am trying to be) and never thought of using them in this dish or putting it all over rice! Great idea. Thanks for sharing. — And best wish to you and Joel in adjusting to your new roles as Mommy and Daddy! So great!

    • theharders

      Lesley! Before I got married is when I really learned how to cook and that was cooking for one. Until the babe came, I still felt I was cooking for one since Joel would be up at the church in the evenings Mon-Thurs and wouldn’t eat dinner at home. Because of that many meals I tend to gravitate towards and go back to on a regular basis either make smaller portions or awesome leftovers! we will also happily take you as another family member at the dinner table anytime you are free!!

  2. tina

    These recipes look fabulous! Going to try a lot of new recipes when your sisters leave for college. These will be at the top of my list!

    • theharders

      You are funny! You are a way better cook than me! Hey let’s set you up to start a cooking blog. A new hobby with the girls off at college!!

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