So you work full-time, have a few kids and struggle to get dinner on the table?
Yep, I know. I’ve heard from a lot of you. And I get it. Dinner is probably the last thing you have energy for at the end of a long day. Heck, if this blog wasn’t my job I don’t know if I’d be getting dinner on the table. It takes planning and grocery shopping and then if your kids are picky what’s the point?
Well I’m here to help you today. I’m here to provide you recipes and dinner ideas for someone in your exact position!
The working mom’s ultimate dinner guide
Tips and ideas to make homemade dinner happen at your house. The working mom’s ultimate dinner guide includes crockpot meals that can cook for more than 8 hours at a time, slow cooker freezer meals that you can prep ahead of time and 30 minute meals you can cook after work.
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Slow Cooker Recipes with Long Cooking Times
I’ll start with the slow cooker since that’s what I know and use a lot. The slow cooker can be a great tool if you learn what’s appropriate to leave in there for 8+ hours at a time and what is not.
- First off, I must say that slow cookers cook a lot hotter these days than they used to about 20+ years ago. A lot of your mom’s recipes call for cooking times that are WAY off. For example, if you see a chicken breast recipe with cream cheese on it and it says to cook it for 8 hours. That is in no way going to turn out.
- Second, I highly recommend investing in a slow cooker that has a timer on it. I prefer the Kitchenaid 6 Quart Slow Cooker because it cooks evenly and slower than a lot of slow cookers on the market. I also prefer it because it has a countdown timer that you can put in 30 minute increments. When the timer shuts off it automatically switches to warm and keeps it there until you get home from work. You need to find a good slow cooker that will automatically switch to warm so that if you get stuck in traffic your food won’t be burnt when you get home.
- Finally, you need to learn what foods cook best over a long amount of cooking time in the slow cooker. Here is a quick guide on how long certain cuts of meat will need to cook in the slow cooker. If you’re using frozen meats you can add about 2 hours to the cooking time.
- Chicken on the bone or boneless skinless chicken thighs should only ever cook on the low setting for 4-6 hours total. If the chicken is surrounded in liquid (like in a soup) it will be okay to cook longer in the slow cooker.
- Chicken breasts should only cook on the low setting for 3-4 hours total. They don’t have enough collagen or fat and they dry out quickly. If the chicken is surrounded in liquid (like in a soup) it will be okay to cook longer in the slow cooker.
- Beef chuck roast is my favorite cut of beef for the slow cooker. If it is a large roast it can take up to 12 hours on low in the slow cooker. You’ll know the beef is done when it becomes fork tender–you can cut it easily with a fork. It will be easy to shred.
- Beef stew meat is also a great cut of meat for the slow cooker. It can stay on a low setting for 8 hours and be just fine.
- Pork butt or pork shoulder can stay in the slow cooker for hours and hours. If it’s a large cut you can leave it in there for 12 hours on low. If it’s cut into stew meat you can cook it for 8 hours on low.
- Whole turkey breasts or whole chickens also work well in the slow cooker. If it is a bone-in turkey breast (good luck on fitting it in your slow cooker) it will take longer to cook than a boneless turkey breast–7 or 8 hours on low versus 5 or 6.
Slow Cooker Recipe Inspiration for the Working Mom
Is that all clear as mud? Okay great! Let’s move on to the real reason you are here–to get some recipes for dinner this week. Here are some slow cooker recipes with long cooking times that you’re going to love. Make sure to use a slow cooker that has a timer!! Have the slow cooker switch to warm after the specified cooking time is up.
Red Beans and Rice Soup from Kalyn’s Kitchen–-this recipe states to cook for 7 hours on low. Just set your slow cooker timer to 7 hours and then have it switch to warm until you get home.
Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce from Slow Cooker Gourmet–the instructions in this recipe say to cook on low for 6-8 hours but this is one of those recipes that can be kept in there for probably up to 10 hours.
Slow Cooker French Dip Tacos–this recipe can easily be left in your slow cooker for 8-12 hours on low (longer if the meat is frozen/partially frozen when added to slow cooker).
Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Shredded Pork–this recipe can be left in your slow cooker for 8 hours on low.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork from Slow Cooker Gourmet–this recipe states to cook on low for 8 hours but I find that pulled pork can stay in there a couple hour more than that.
Slow Cooker Spicy Coconut Chicken Drumsticks–because this chicken is surrounded in liquid it will cook for 6-8 hours on low.
Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Philly Cheese Steaks from The Magical Slow Cooker–this recipe states to cook on low for 8 hours but it can probably go up to 10 hours.
Slow Cooker Ham, Lentil and Barley Soup–this recipe does fine on low for 8 hours.
Slow Cooker Turkey and Brown Rice Soup from The Magical Slow Cooker–this recipe needs to cook on low for 8 hours. I would just have it switch to warm after 8 hours until you can get home, since you don’t want the rice to get mushy.
Slow Cooker Beef Gyros–this recipe uses beef stew meat or chuck roast cut into strips. Because the cut it smaller it will cook a little quicker than an entire roast. But it should be fine for up to 8 hours in the slow cooker. And you can always make the tzatziki sauce the night before or pick some up from the grocery store.
Old Fashioned Pot Roast from A Year of Slow Cooking–this recipe can cook on low for 8-10 hours. As Stephanie states in this post “A dry roast isn’t from over slowcooking, it’s from under slowcooking!” Truth!!
Easy Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce–this spaghetti sauce can cook on low for up to 12 hours. Really the longer the better.
Slow Roasted Pork from A Year of Slow Cooking–This recipe really benefits from cooking on low for many hours at least 8-10.
Shepherds Pie Chili–this recipe uses dried beans and roast–two items that both take a long time to cook in the slow cooker. You’ll need up to 12 hours for this recipe on low.
Crockpot Leg of Lamb from A Year of Slow Cooking–I’ve never made leg of lamb but this recipe looks amazing. Cook on low for 7-9 hours.
French Onion Beef Stroganoff–this one takes 8-10 hours on low. Onions are one of those vegetables that take a very long time to cook and so does the beef so it’s a match made in slow cooker heaven.
Tangy Black Bean Soup from A Year of Slow Cooking–dried beans take a long time to cook so this recipe is perfect for the working mom. It will take 8-10 hours on low.
Slow Cooker 15 Bean Beefy Chili–this recipes uses dried beans which take a very long time to get soft. This recipe will cook for 8-10 hours on low.
Crockpot Indian Curry from A Year of Slow Cooking–cooking the chicken for up to 8 hours on low will work with this recipe since the chicken is totally enveloped in liquid.
Slow Cooker 3 Ingredient Turkey Breast-this turkey takes 7 hours on low and turns out super moist and tender.
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Greek Lentil Soup with Tomatoes, Spinach, and Feta from Kalyn’s Kitchen–this soup is good to go for 7-9 hours.
3 Envelope Roast–this one takes 8-12 hours on low to cook and turns out super moist and tender.
Slow Cooker Southwestern Beef Stew from Kalyn’s Kitchen: This Slow Cooker Southwestern Beef Stew with Tomatoes, Olives, and Chiles is low-carb and gluten-free and this can be perfect for anyone who’s eating Paleo; just skip the sour cream! It states to cook 6-8 hours but a bit more won’t hurt it.
Slow Cooker Cafe Rio Black Beans–I love these beans and they’ll take all day in your slow cooker to get tender. I use them on quesadillas.
CrockPot Greek Chicken Soup with Garbanzos and Oregano from Kalyn’s Kitchen— is delicious with a little Feta sprinkled on top! This tasty soup is gluten-free and South Beach Diet friendly, and it freezes well. It can cook on low for 8-10 hours.
Hoisin Shredded Pork Sliders–these will take 8-12 hours on low in the slow cooker. Pick up some Hawaiian rolls on the way home from work.
Fork Tender Ribs–these babies take about 7-9 hours on low
More Slow Cooker Recipes that Take 8 or more Hours to Cook
Check out all my slow cooker recipes that take 6 or more hours to cook here.
Check out all of all the recipes from Slow Cooker From Scratch that take all day to cook.
Slow Cooker Freezer Meals
Another choice for working moms is to make some slow cooker freezer meals. This is a great choice because it requires very limited time in the morning to get the recipes into the crockpot. You can spend a couple of hours on a Saturday putting them together. Plus if you throw them in the slow cooker frozen they will take a long time to cook (This is not recommended by some because the food stays cold and may get in the “danger zone” where bacteria growth can happen, however I often do it anyway!).
16 Freezable Slow Cooker Dinners–these are individual slow cooker dinner recipes that you can make in and of themselves. The bonus to this is that you are just making one recipe at a time instead of a large batch which can take a lot of time. You can also just see which recipes your family would like and then make the recipes that appeal to you.
5 Slow Cooker Freezer Chicken Meals made in 45 Minutes–These five meals include a step by step assembly line style guide that is absolutely free. These chicken meals all require 8 hours of slow cooking on low if they are put into the slow cooker frozen.
7 Crockpot Freezer Meals in One Hour–this is a variety of different types of dinners these recipes come with step by step instructions and a grocery list.
20 Crockpot Freezer Meals in 3 Hours–this is a big task (with grocery shopping and prep time) but having 20 meals in your freezer is huge and will last for a month (or more).
8 Healthy Freezer Meals in One Hour–if you’re trying to lighten things up at your house, these 8 meals are a good choice.
Less Than 30 Minute Meals (to Make When You Get Home from Work)
There are many fast and easy recipes out there that working moms can make for dinner when they get home from work. These are all recipes that can be made rather quickly, like 30 minutes or less.
Mexican Pizza from Barbara Bakes–A fun Mexican Pizza with a layer of refried beans and spicy ground beef sandwiched between two flour tortillas, topped with salsa, shredded cheese, jalapenos, green onions, and tomatoes. Then baked until it’s hot, melty and gooey delicious.
Easy French Bread Pizza from Two Peas and Their Pod–This pizza only takes 20 minutes to make!
Goat Cheese Lemon Pasta with Kale from Two Peas and Their Pod–this one takes just 25 minutes to put together.
Cauliflower Fried Rice from The Vintage Mixer–just 20 minutes from start to finish.
Pressure Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken from Pressure Cooking Today–if you have a pressure cooker this recipe takes just minutes to make.
Crispy Gnocchi with Basil Pesto from Two Peas and Their Pod–Crispy, pan-fried gnocchi with basil pesto-an easy meal that tastes good any night of the week! Just 25 minutes.
Cheesy Guacamole Tostadas from Two Peas and Their Pod–this one takes just 20 minutes to make.
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Suhana Morgan says
Thanks for sharing your excellent recipe with us. Here is an excellent recipe list.
Roasted broccoli is my favorite dinner item, now I believe it tastes increase more from your discussion. In the holidays I taste all the item. please keep it up.
Jessica Curry says
I love your site! i am a full time office manager at a healthcare practice and I have 2 athletic boys. Most of the time I am not getting home until 8 pm at night. With football practice right now it is very hard but thanks to my crockpot I am able to make dinner most every night. I come home on my lunch hour and start the crockpot. It has truly been a lifesaver for me and my family. I have a crockpot food blog I would love for you to check out. It is https://creativecrockpot.com. Being so busy and using my crockpot everyday inspired me to share with other working mothers that it is possible to be able to cook a hot meal on the table. Thanks!
Hello my name is Laura and I am writing you from Milan, Italy.
I’ve discovered while surfing the net and your blog is beautiful and very simple.
Recently I bought a slow cooker and calmly read and learn new recipes.
Thank you for sharing your recipes!
(Used Google translator)
See you soon!
gail volta says
Is there a grocery list somewhere
No there isn’t but i should put one together shouldn’t I?
Such an awesome post! I’ll be using and sharing. Thank you Karen!
Such a great collection of dinner ideas! Thank you so much for including some of my recipes.
Ed M says
At the risk of sounding overly sensitive or PC-There are some of us who are working fathers responsible for getting dinner on the table.
You’re right! There are many dads out there that need this info too!
This is great! Thank you so much for sharing. I opened up a lot of recipes to go check out. I’m a substitute teacher and don’t have lots of time to cook when I get home, or in the morning, so I think your recipes will be a big help.
Awesome Brenda! So glad I could help 🙂