I have two children that play one sport each, and that is already 3 nights of the week where there is practice or a game on at dinner time. PLUS an early morning Saturday game, but that is a whinge for another time. I sit with the other mums and chat, and some of those mums have children who do a lot more sport than this! One mum has 3 hour long training sessions on the same night, another drops one kid off, takes another to swimming, races back…all after a busy day at work. Crazy huh? What do you cook for dinner if you have three kids doing sport at dinner time? Or even one kid? I asked around, and sometimes there is something waiting for them at home but most of the time it is takeaway. I don’t at all mind the occasional take away myself, and neither do my kids, but 3 nights a week is not great.

Here are some dinner ideas for when your kids sport is eating up your time and you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry.

Oh, you knew I’d go here first, don’t lie! I won’t rabbit on too much about the slow cooker, as I’ve already done so here, here and here. It’s hard to beat for ease and convenience, and a bit of prep will make your dinner time a lot easier. If your mornings are as chaotic as mine, make it the night before and put it in the fridge, so all you need to do is pop it on before you leave for work.

  • Spaghetti Bolognaise is a lovely warming carb fest to come home to when you are tired and need something to fill you up. I’d normally cook the sauce on the stove-top but at least with the slow cooker I can leave the house and know it won’t be burnt down on my return. 15 mins to cook the pasta while you have a much needed glass of wine and the children have a shower. 
  • Spanish Chicken. I’m cooking this tonight actually! Saute some onions, garlic, smoked paprika, cumin and thyme in a fry pan, deglaze with a cup of red wine, add some chopped tinned tomatoes, then pour over some chicken legs and a few chopped red capsicums and maybe a scoop of olives if you don’t mind picking them out of your children’s dinner. I’ll be having mine with cauliflower mash, the boys will have mashed potato, both of which can be prepped, sitting on the stove ready to go. 
  • Taco Night! Put your favourite taco mince recipe in the slow cooker (Barack Obama Chili is a favourite round here), have all other ingredients prepped and ready to go in the fridge (lettuce, grated cheese, sliced tomato, sour cream, what ever you like) and then when you get home, all you need to do is put everything on the table and stand back. 
This is all about having something ready to put in the oven when you get home. It might take a bit longer than 15 minutes but depending on your child’s coach, you might need more than one glass of wine. Silver linings, people.
  • Pasta Bake. Easy peasy! Use your favourite recipe, or use this one for Big Arse Salmon Pasta Bake, or Google a recipe and find one you like. So simple, and it doesn’t take much time to make in the first place, let alone heat in the oven when you finally get home.
  • Lasagna. OK technically this is another pasta bake, but it’s easy to make and whack in the oven. It’s not hard, it’s just bolognaise and pasta sheets, with a bechemal sauce on the top. 
  • Lemon chicken and potato bake. In a lined baking dish, place some thyme or rosemary, cover with chicken pieces (thighs are good, but wings or legs work well also) and quartered potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt; then cover with glad wrap and pop in the fridge until you get home and are ready to pop it into the oven for about 45 minutes. 
  • Moussaka! If your children (or you) don’t like eggplant try making it with thick slices of steamed potato instead. Perfect with a green salad. 
  • Shepherds Pie. I like to pretend the shepherd in question was a kiwi, and cover it with mash made from kumera. Apparently this is healthier, so feel free to have a second glass of wine. 

This is not quite take away, and not quite home made; it can be a healthy alternative though. Go to the supermarket and buy things to assemble on your dinner plate. Try to stay away from the frozen section *note to myself*

  • BBQ chicken, a bag of salad, some nice crusty bread. Just like Grandma makes!
  • Creamy pasta sauce and pasta from the chilled section, fancied up with some cooked prawns and baby spinach leaves.
  • Fresh pizza from the chilled section, which is nicer than the ones in the freezer that look like they’ve been run over by a truck. Add some extra toppings from the deli section – olives, feta, salami, marinated seafood, cooked prawns, proper cheese….what ever you like. Goes great with a glass of wine. 

Shop your own freezer
Next time you make a batch of something, make a double batch and freeze it, and life will be a little easier. It might take 30 minutes to nuke in the microwave, and that is enough time to make some pasta, rice, salad or veggies to go with it. Wouldn’t it be lovely to find any of the following in your freezer?

  • Any thing listed above that you cooked in the slow cooker. 
  • Anything that you pre prepped, like pasta bake.
  • A large chicken and potato curry
  • A hearty minestrone soup, and maybe some garlic bread to go with it
  • A big batch of meatballs in tomato sauce
Ahhh, childrens sport. Isn’t it great? I’ve just realised how many times in this post I’ve referenced having a glass of wine …….

7 thoughts on “What to cook for dinner when your child has late afternoon sport

  • 03/10/2015 at 2:34 AM

    Hi Lisa, I loved this post, thanks for the inspiration! My kids are too young to be doing the sport thing but I am bracing myself for those years as I have four of them! Yikes! I am already wondering how we will manage the logistics of this when they're older and into after school practice stuff. These meal ideas sound easy to prepare. Will be following your blog for more inspiration!!x

    • 03/11/2015 at 2:42 AM

      Hi Laney, thanks for stopping by! Sounds like you will be very busy in a few years – 2 children doing sport is doing my head in now! xx

  • 03/10/2015 at 3:31 AM

    This is a great list of ideas. I currently have one day a week (today actually!) where we are out late and home just in time for dinner time which means having to have dinner already cooked and ready to serve. I find the slow cooker great and currently have a minestrone soup cooking away for tonight.

    • 03/11/2015 at 2:43 AM

      Malinda that sounds delicious! Good thinking ahead xx

  • 03/10/2015 at 11:57 PM

    LOL must confess I'm glad those days are past for me. I reckon you can't go past tacos or burritos for meals in a hurry that can also feed a football team if required!

    Visiting from #teamIBOT x

    • 03/11/2015 at 2:44 AM

      Janet I almost wish those days where over for me too! I do need to cook for a crowd, because sometimes the children eat for a crowd! Thanks for stopping by xx

  • 03/12/2015 at 9:53 AM

    I have three kids doing sport on one night, which means only one night out, but it means we are out all arvo, so I have to be organised. Bakes work well for us, as do things like homemade pizzas or even hot dogs with some salad and potato. It really depends, but I don't want take away every week, so we make it work 🙂

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