The Cooking Schedule I Use for Our Long, Busy Days

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With my husband working so many hours to support our family, our cooking schedule is a bit unconventional during the week. If I’m being honest, it does get old, cooking two dinners five nights a week. But it has to be done, and I’m glad we get the weekend together. If you’re struggling to cook for your family, I hope you’ll get some insights from our cooking schedule, and learn from my tips at the end of the post!

How I Cook for Our Schedule

Our general weekday schedule looks like this. My husband leaves for work at 5am. I wake up around 6:30 and Emma around 7:30. I stay home with Emma and she’s not in preschool (yet!). Emma goes to bed at 7pm, and Keith gets home around 8:30pm.


I make bagels with cream cheese for Keith to grab on his way out the door with some coffee. He’s also tried freezer breakfast burritos, cereal, and oatmeal. But bagels seem to win because he can eat them during his commute if he’s not hungry right away! Since I usually don’t eat breakfast, I just have coffee and water. When Emma wakes up, she grabs an apple and a cheese stick from the fridge.


Keith or I will make him sandwiches the night before to take with him. For Emma and me, I make leftovers or an easy meal like eggs and toast with fruit.


Keith brings crackers and fruit with him for snacks, and he stops for a cup of coffee in the afternoon. Emma has fruit, veggies, crackers, or if we’re both hungry, I’ll make us up something fun!


Dinner is where it our cooking schedule gets difficult. Emma eats dinner around 6, and I have to start cooking for Keith around 8. And Emma has to go to sleep in between! Emma’s dinner is usually something very easy for me, like chicken and rice with yogurt and fruit. If I’m hungry, I’ll have a little something along with her.

After she goes to bed, I start cooking Keith’s and my dinner. We have a rotation of easy, 30-minute dinners. I bulk slice, marinate, and freeze the meat every two weeks, so all I have to do for meat is pull out one of the flat packs and let it defrost! I make a starch and a veg and a hot dinner’s ready by the time he gets home. Now, if he gets off early or Emma doesn’t get to sleep… that’s a different story!

Are you struggling to find a cooking schedule that works for your family's long days? Check out ours, and my tips for how to make it work for your family!

Tips for Your Cooking Schedule

Prioritize your mealtimes.

Decide which meals are more important to you. Emma and I get to sit down together at lunch time, Keith and I at dinner time. And all three of us on the weekends. Breakfast isn’t that important to me, and Emma’s dinner is too close to Keith’s and my dinner for me to sit down and share it with her. (Plus, I’m usually cleaning up from the day!) Sharing meals is about quality time to connect – I don’t really think the time of day matters very much.

Meal prep!

Meal prep as much as you can! Keith isn’t a big fan of crock pot meals or casseroles, so prepping entire meals to dump or bake isn’t really an option for our cooking schedule. But cutting up and marinating all that meat at once saves me 15 minutes and a lot of dishes every day! I also make sauces for the week ahead if I have time.

Work ahead.

In the same way, make whatever you can earlier in the day! If I don’t have a sauce made already, I’ll make it after lunch. I make rice about an hour ahead because it stays warm in the pot. With chicken parm, I pan fry the chicken in the early afternoon, put on the cheese and sauce, and keep it in the fridge until Keith is on his way home – then I put in the oven to warm up and melt the cheese! There are endless ways you can work ahead without affecting the quality of the food noticeably.

Accept this season.

Chances are, this busy season of your life won’t last forever. I know that in a few years, Emma will stay up late enough to eat with Keith and me. (Or my blog will take off and Keith will be able to work fewer hours!) Either way, this is only a season. I’m thankful for the money we have to buy ingredients to cook, and to get a pizza when I’m sick or just exhausted.

So tell me: what does your cooking schedule look like for your family? Tell me in the comments!

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Are you struggling to find a cooking schedule that works for your family's long days? Check out ours, and my tips for how to make it work for your family!

2 thoughts on “The Cooking Schedule I Use for Our Long, Busy Days”

  • I really should get better at meal prep. Sigh. What helps me is to plan out the week’s menu with a mix of super easy recipes and some that are moderately easy. Then, depending how I am feeling that week, I just pick a meal from the correct category. Thanks for the post!

    • Great system, Rachael! I like that all of them are still on the easy side of the spectrum – those a my kinda recipes! Thanks for reading!

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