I work about 45-50 hours a week, and with daycare drop off and traffic, I commute about 1-1.5 hours a day. I am a real-life example that it's totally possible to serve your family real food while working and being on a strict budget. How do I do it? A few things:
1) Meal plan. Meal plan. Meal plan. For reals people, meal planning saves us so much money. I'll do a post on that on another day.
2) Stock up on good deals! Another post for another day.
3) Prep for the week. Whether you do it all on one day, or the night before, food prep saves the evening for actual cooking.
And #4 is also my weekly tip - embrace your crockpot! Crockpots are a great way to make a delicious home cooked meal without slaving away over your stove or oven for hours. I use the crockpot at least twice per week to prepare healthful and yummy meals for my little family. Tonight, we're dining on lentil soup - YUM! Surprisingly, my 20 month old toddler loves this recipe.
I have two crockpots. My 7 quart beast (mine actually says Rival, but it is the exact same thing) which we call the Duggar Family Crockpot. This size is great for bigger families, or when you want to make enough to freeze for other meals. I also have a 4 quart cutie that I use for certain recipes.
Lentil soup a'la Sarah (bear with me. I don't measure).
This in my 7 quart one so that we have leftovers for 2 lunches tomorrow
-12 ish cups of beef, chicken, or vegetable broth
-A handful of potatoes, carrots, celery (or whatever veggies you want) diced in to small pieces
-1 small onion diced
-half of a bag of lentils (rinse prior to putting in)
-garlic, salt, pepper, parsley to taste. I also usually splash in a bit of smoked paprika for flavor
-put on low for 8-9 hrs, and walk away
-prior to serving, I like to crumble up a little bit of ham or bacon for added flavor
We usually pair this with my homemade bread turned garlic bread or rolls, or no knead bread.
Let's run the numbers!
-12 cups of organic beef broth (I use Better than Bouillon Organic from Costco): $1.00
-half bag of organic lentils - $.50
-organic veggies - ~$1.00 (I buy in bulk)
-spices - ~$.10
-ham - free. Leftovers from my parent's Christmas ham!
It will make 6 servings +, so $.43 per serving!
12/28 edit: it made 10 servings, so that brings it down to $.26 per serving!