TALK BACK: The Six O'Clock Scramble

We've all been there: it's a quarter to six, and somehow we've managed to completely forget about dinner. We've gotten lost in a book, or a blog, or a great episode of Oprah, and suddenly a young child breaks us from our comatose state and asks,



What's your last-minute dinner solution? What do you typically do when you've failed to plan and need dinner in a hurry? Do you have a cupboard stand-by? Do you pack up the family and head to a restaurant? What is your Plan B when meal-planning goes wrong?


  1. My go-to meal, whenever I lack the creative energy to come up with some great dinner idea, or am crunched for time, is Indian Curry. I throw some basmati rice in my steamer, toss a diced chicken breast in a pan, add carrots, garbanzo beans, or whatever I have laying around in my fridge. Then, I dump a can of Patak's brand curry sauce (or curry paste and a can of diced tomatoes) over the mix and let it simmer until the rice is done. Our favorite curry is Tikka Masala but they come in aaalll kinds of flavors!

  2. I wish it was something healthy like the last comment, unfortunatly it usually turns out to be frozen Uncrustables, mac and cheese, Top Ramen or Taco Bell :(

  3. LOVE the honesty of the last post. I'm with emilie, but occasionally I land somewhere in the middle with spaghetti, since it's fast. Or grilled cheese, even faster.

    I would love more healthy in a hurry ideas though (ones where there's a chance I wouldn't have to run out for ingredients, that's always the tricky part)

  4. Yes...we often turn to mac & cheese also. We went to Costco and loaded up on Mac & Cheese, Hormel Chili, and Green Beans. So if we have nothing or are running behind we usually get that.......OR scrambled eggs and play it up like it will be a fun breakfast for dinner night. We always have eggs and milk in the house.

  5. We often end up doing a take-out run, usually Chipotle burritos or El Pollo Loco. Or the pantry stand-by seems to be Aunt Annie's Mac & Cheese, or spaqhetti with canned sauce.

    I like that Indian curry idea! I'm gonna have to try that one.

  6. I usually do the pantry thing - sloppy joes, spaghetti, any combination of chicken and some kind of noodles...

  7. Story of my life. Spaghetti. Sad but true. That and cereal. :) Really needing some ideas here.

  8. On nights like this, we will sometimes have a spaghetti picnic. We lay a blanket on the floor in the living room. Make a big batch of spaghetti. Drain it, mix it with butter (no sauce), put it in a big bowl with four forks in it and dig in. We finish up with a dessert of fruit. Overall, not very nutritious but fun. Afterwards, I shake the blanket out into the trash and throw it in the wash.

  9. sharing a snack while cooking...

    that makes me happy.

  10. since i am allergic to recipes... lots of my meals are scramble-y. Some of my faves: breakfast for dinner (eggs and toast, waffles with peanut butter and jelly, quick quiches with eggs cheese and whatever is in the fridge) black beans with chips and cheese and salsa, quesadillas, chopped salads with romaine and --- yet again-- whatever is in the fridge. I love having canned chicken in the pantry... it adds easy protein and goes with every cuisine, every veggie, every grain, and every sauce.

  11. I am so going to try the curry and the spaghetti on the blanket idea. I know my kids will think they are dying from the curry, but it sounds great for me and hubby.

    My 6 o'clock scramble fixings are usually:

    -quesadillas (we always have whole wheat or brown rice tortillas and cheese on hand)
    -breakfast burritos or scrambled eggs and toast or english muffins (we seriously do this at least once per week)
    -Trader Joe's turkey meatballs (I keep a bag in the freezer all the time for moments such as these), hummus, fruit
    -Frozen pizza from Trader Joe's (their Organic Cheese pizza is my kids' favorite and I love the bbq chicken pizza, I LOVE that both are made with whole wheat flour)
    -Annie's mac and cheese
    -Left over smorgasbord. (this one is definintely not anyone in my house's favorite option, but it works well if we need to clear out the fridge)

    I love all the responses on this! Thanks for sharing, mamas!


  12. My kids totally turn up their noses at the curry most of the time (literally - they walk in the house, sniff the air, roll their eyes and groan about the curry smell) but they will usually go for the Tikka Masala since it is pretty mild. We just tried Korma too, which is reeeeally mild. They liked that one a lot. Sometimes I put a few golden raisins in the mix which helps make it a little more appealing for my boys. It's really not as fancy as it sounds and can be a great one-dish meal to dump and stew all your leftover veggies.

  13. My last minute meal saver is always breakfast burritoes.

    Scrambled eggs, cheese (of course!) tortillas, and salsa. Those are the basics. If I have potatoes I might fry some and toss those in. Or add bacon or cooked sausage. Sour cream tops it if we have any.

  14. I created a website and cookbook for busy moms like you, and believe it or not, it's called The Six O'Clock Scramble! Each week, I send a weekly dinner plan and grocery list to subscribers so they won't have to think about what to make when the dreaded hour rolls around. I hope you'll check it out:

  15. I opt for breakfast, if we must stay in, because I can at least get some protein (eggs) and some fruit in the kids before we call it a day.

    But if it's possible to go out in that scenario? We go out.

  16. It's always pasta around here. Boil the noodles, heat the sauce. Voila. I keep a nice selection of whole wheat pastas and organic sauces in the cupboard so it's really easy to put a meal together quickly.

    And sometimes we do Breakfast For Dinner. Omelettes and toast with some fruit on the side. Pancakes. That sort of thing.

  17. Alas I just drop out a box of Annies Mac& Chz I tell myself at least it is organic and you know what they love it and even if I had slaved over dinner and prepared a delectable feast, the chances are they would not have eaten and gone to bed starving themselves to spite me. So yes 15 minute boxed salvation 5 or more nights a week sometimes.


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