Good morning hot lunches
Tricia at Little Eco Footprints wrote a post yesterday which really resonated with me. How do you make as much of your own food from scratch but not a) fall in a heap, b) get resentful & give up or c) resort to a paper plate mentality LOL.
There are times I feel like I spend half my life in the kitchen cooking. Probably because I do :-) Do I have days where I resent this? Actually no....tired - yes, resentful - no. The 2 key reasons are I like cooking and secondly because I'm really committed to our food choices and lifestyle. I prefer to view this positively, because I could just as easily say I have no choice. As the parent of a multiple food allergy child, I cant go out and buy many things off the shelf anyways, so why make it into a forced negative idea??
So what do I do to make life easier? I cook in bulk if I can for some things. For example, I use the slow cooker overnight to cook 4-5 days of hot lunches. I also use the slow cooker twice a week for dinners. That means come dinner time, I just need to add some rice.
If I cook soup, I make enough for dinner but also for a lunch or as the base for veggie sausage rolls. When I make said sausage rolls, it makes enough for Little B for about 6 weeks. Make two batches of muffins at once and freeze half. Always make sure your dinner makes 1 more meal and freeze.
Try to get a repertoire of tasty quick meals. Nothing too fiddly or time consuming during the week - I find this makes me cranky. We do a lot of vegetarian meals but also some meat. Things like stirfries, pumpkin & chickpea patties, lamb stews etc. My main priorities in a meal is it must be nourishing, tasty and chockful of veggies / beans / legumes.
Future sausage rolls
Make cooking fun - listen to your favourite music, involve the family. Little B loves to do playdough or colour at the table and sing along with me while I cook or do the dishes. We also use this time to listen to children's audiobooks (current faves are The Magic Faraway Tree & More of Paddington Bear). I leave weekends to try out recipes, make more fiddly meals and stock up our pantry by making jam.
One night a week is leftover / freezer / premade meal night. For us it is Wednesday. I love Wednesday as its the middle of the week and it breaks up the cooking. Mr B & I have leftovers and Little B has lentil sausage rolls or veggie bean pattie burgers. All meals on this night are home-made.
Also I cant say enough - meal plan. I have a 2 week rotation of meals. I just follow these 14 days straight but you could have the 14 and pick from them willy nilly. I prefer more structure as it means I dont have to think about dinner too much and it makes food shopping and stockpiling easier. Plus it means the rhythm of the kitchen and cooking just flows for me.
I change the meal plan around a bit according to the season, the weather and food availability. But cooking a lot of vegetarian meals makes this really easy.
Now I'm currently a SAHM but I'm also studying on campus at night, spending the other half of my life at doctors and hospitals, juggling a 4 year old and helping out in Mr B's business. Up until last year, I worked outside of the home in a stressful job and still did this much cooking. I believe it can be done by anyone...you just need to find the groove or pattern that works for you and your family.