Jared often says that he doesn’t expect me to cook for him and he is always very grateful when (most days) I have a meal prepared for our family by the time he gets in from work. Over Christmas I did mountains of food preparation and cooking which I really enjoyed. This got me thinking about why I don’t enjoy cooking so much for our family. I love the shopping part. At my parents house there is always people…and lots of them – it makes cooking and preparing a meal such a social, fun occasion. Everybody prepares a different part of the dinner and my Mum has a breakfast bar which means you can sit down almost the whole time you are preparing a meal – bliss.
I would feel more than a tad guilty if Jared had to come in from work every night and then prepare the dinner for us all, so I really need to find ways to make it less mundane or that it happens so quickly that I don’t even have to think about it. Pre-Winston we always shopped for food together, prepared it together and cooked it together. Now it is not such a relaxed occasion. It never surprises me how much chaos one small person can create. Thankfully most days I find it quite hilarious – I won’t mention the other days!
The past few months Winston has helped me cook dinner every night. He will often say ‘help Mummy cooking’ and then we get started, so it is already becoming a bit more social and I enjoy showing him the different vegetables. He can pass me things like onions and garlic and enjoys having a good stir. Mostly it’s quite a peaceful time of the day but he has a thing for eating raw onion, so a couple of times he has rubbed his eyes with his hands resulting in a teary episode. I’m sure the new baby will make our meal preparation sessions a bit more ‘exciting’.
I suppose that enjoying cooking has accidentally become a New Year’s resolution as I don’t want it to be something that I moan about or resembles a burden.
1. Write a meal plan
I never ever thought I would say this! but I’ve been following a meal plan that I put together since New Year and it is awesome. I love knowing what I am eating, for the first time I have a shopping list and I’m pretty sure it will work out cheaper – which I know all sound obvious. I retract any indications I have given in the past, suggesting that meal plans were for boring people. I love mine. I’ve written a 28 day one to ensure it is varied, super healthy and means I can always cater for Jared’s wheat free diet. We eat meat or fish about 3 times a week and it is much easier to track which day we are eating what.
2. Buy a slow cooker
I bought a slow cooker last year. It is proving very useful for days out and for ensuring we have a gorgeous meal ready for when we return home from church on Sundays. It can take less than 5 minutes to shove it all in.
3. Use Google
Google and I have been having fun recently. When I have food that needs eating I type the ingredients into Google to see what recipe it brings up. We had some pretty random things at the end of last year and they all tasted pretty good! We had this seabass – potato thing that turned out to be delicious.
4. Involve the kids
My Mum always involved us in the shopping, preparing and cooking of food. Probably because she needed the help more than anything but I think we all learnt a lot from it. It must have been so much more time consuming to talk to us, nag us and show us how to do things (never mind all the moaning) but we were always involved. I remember being dropped off at the shops with my younger siblings armed with a shopping list my Mum had written out with pictures of the items and numbers. I had to help my younger sibling locate the item and count the correct number into the trolley. This is exactly what my Mum did with me. I mean…who can be bothered with all of that? but so much more fun and something I plan on doing.
5. Find some new recipes
I love looking up new recipes and own loads of cookery books. I buy a few a year and use them most days as we don’t eat many traditional English meals – a lot of them contain wheat. My most recent buy was over Christmas – River Cottage Veg Every Day! It isn’t aimed at vegetarians – just people that want to know how to incorporate more veg into their every day diet. It all looks amazing and the ones I’ve tried are yummy. It’s not all super healthy either, for when you are in need of something more comforting.
I feel really sad writing about the obvious and mundane, but I already feel so much better knowing what I am doing. I won’t have to nip to the shops for one or two items because I know I’ve got everything.
I am very open to more tips – so please send them my way!