meal preparation and cleanup to outside of working hours? The rest of the posts in this series:
Traditional Food in Real Lives- How can this be done around the work schedule?
Grocery Shopping and Menu Planning
Weekend Meal Prep
Tuesday and Wednesday
Thursday and Friday- the home stretch
Reflections on this week and how it impacts me as a stay at home mom, and adjustments I'd make if I did work outside the home
Some things I loved! I loved that spending a few minutes at the beginning of the week to plan yielded much more efficiency all week long. I liked having my kitchen clean all day. I liked the forced impulse control- too often I'll start playing in my kitchen, which is fun and tasty but not always the most efficient use of my time. I like having the limits of only pre-designated snacks.
Some things I didn't like so much. I think if I worked outside the home, I would increase my food budget to include more pre-made foods. Like my tortillas that weren't great- I might opt to buy those instead (I might do that anyway). Our local health food store sells lactofermented sauerkraut and pickles, which would be time savers for working families, not that lactofermented veggies take much time, but they're one more thing on the long to-do list.
I didn't make yogurt this week because I had some in the fridge already, but that might be another thing I'd buy pre-made. Buying Stretch Island Fruit leathers rather than making dried fruit at home are a shortcut I use anyway! I like drying fruit, especially if I find a great deal on it, but I would want to have some outside play time with the family too.
I also found that I don't want to do much more cooking than a basic dinner and putting together lunch for the next day. I thought I'd make some date nut balls sometime during the week, and it's not that they take long to make...just that I didn't want to wash any more dishes ~wink~
What I've Learned
But overall I've learned that cooking whole traditional foods from scratch doesn't need to be an all day long event. A short burst of intense prep and planning on the weekend, and organization can make time stretch out much further. Setting realistic goals, such as having a protein, veggie, fat, and carb at each meal is easier to fulfill than a goal of having a different protein at each meal, 5 servings of different fruit and veggies, and a different meal for each person in the family.
I know that we want to serve a variety of foods to our families, but I think it's just fine to, for example, have eggs for breakfast and then again for dinner- especially since everyone here likes eggs. And if I know my kids won't eat much of the veggies that are served with a meal (peas in this house), I don't feel the need to fix a separate veggie (or main dish!) for each person for each meal. Overall they eat a good variety of foods, so I don't feel the need to be a short order cook just because I am home; this would be essential to preparing foods around the work schedule as well, or around afternoon activities if your kids do those.
Making chicken salad rather than getting out all the sandwich fixings is another time saver that I already used for hubby's lunches before. Re-serving dishes like the rice (as in taco salad first, then stir fry the next day) I do too- but it's even more important when you're crunched for time.
yogurt or lactofermented veggies after coming home mid-day. I will continue to do my weekend meal prep, though, and will be having more 'kitchen is closed' days this summer to focus on playing outside and doing other things besides just cooking.
I really enjoyed having a clear clean kitchen all day too- since I wasn't messing it up! I think having a deadline (the dishes have to be done before 7:30 a.m. or they'll sit all day) is a good motivator for me to actually do them right away and not get distracted thinking that I'll have time to get to them later.
I'm glad to have tried this series. How about you? Have you decided to condense your cooking schedule for this summer?