How to beat the Kitchen overwhelm!
I find a lot of people see “food preparation” as a boring way to spend 8 hours slaving over a hot stove on a Sunday. WRONG! While I’m sure some people do actually enjoy a full day of cooking, for me personally as a busy mum….. I spend around 2 hours max in the kitchen on the weekend. I save that time up (and more) during the week and get to help the kids wind down from kindy and have a play instead of having to walk straight into the kitchen after work.
Here are a few tips that help me get ahead each week. I believe in small steps, so just making a few additions each week for a month will see food prep simply become a part of your family routine. Food is our fuel and medicine. We should never be too busy for that.
- Write out at least five family dinners, your staple breakfasts and a few snacks for the following week. List everything you need!
- I do a food shop (online, sometimes a visit to the markets/shop) on a Friday afternoon or early Saturday morning so the pantry and fridge is stocked for the weekend. Only buy what is on your LIST.
- Have a mini ‘fridge and pantry’ detox before you put everything away. Clear out the junk. Start fresh each week.
- Invest in some airtight storage containers. Not only do you fit more in the fridge, it’s easy to navigate, keeps food fresher.
- Chop 3/4 of the veggies, salad items up. So it’s always ready and like a grab n go. I chop fruit up every few days so it’ as easily accessible for the kids. A lot of people ask me about snacks for kids. FRUIT. It’s natures candy. Keep it colourful and aim to try something new everything few weeks. As their taste buds mature, they’ll enjoy different flavours and textures. My kids love chopped banana with natural peanut butter spread on top at the moment.
- Plan an hour or two in the kitchen at some stage over the weekend. Go into it with a plan of what needs to be done. I always think to myself ‘what can I do today that will take the pressure off tomorrow and the following few days?” Cook a couple of dinners, chop up and prepare some of the sauces, curries for the back end of the week. Get all of the veg chopped up and put in a big bowl so you can just throw the stir-fry together mid week. Dice up some meat so it’s ready to throw in the slow cooker the next morning etc.
- Breakfast is super important. Our weekday staples are overnight oats (make up a big salad bowl size and keep in the fridge and just serve each morning for 2-3 days and top with different fruit and yoghurt each morning!). Or muesli cups – layer a deep cup with yoghurt, muesli, berries, chia seeds, coconut flakes etc). I often have a protein smoothie as we’re walking out the door and again mid afternoon, hubby likes them as snacks. So I make up a few the night before and we just grab them out in the morning. Fresh is best in terms of texture, but it’s better than nothing and they taste the same anyway.
- I do enjoy some baking each weekend too. Nothing like some home-made muffins or banana bread! Plenty of free clean recipes online. I don’t believe you need 5000 different recipes, experiment. See what your kids like and stick to it as staple for a little while.
- Start to transition your white flours and refined sugars in baking to more clean alternatives. It may seem expensive up front – to use coconut oils, spelt, coconut flour or almond meal, pure honey or natural sweeteners, cacao powder etc. BUT honestly, these ingredients are used sparingly and I feel work out very cost effective once you get into the swing of things!! (Coles has their own certified organic range of whole-food pantry staples and they are great and affordable!). Peanut butter is a great base in muffin recipes. You can buy a large tub from Mrs Flannerys for a few dollars.
- Start your own family recipe book and put it in a folder. Print out recipes, go to the library and utilise the free recipe books – have some tried and tested recipes that work for you and your family! Add to it every so often but know you don’t need 1500 different options each week. Keep it simple. There’s nothing wrong with meat and three veg! Get fancy when you have the motivation, but don’t overwhelm yourself.
- A great way to keep salads interesting is buy making a different “dip” each week and adding a few dallops. Ie- pesto, satay, hommus, aoili. Roast up a stack of veggies each week and store in the fridge. Add to a salad with a source of protein, a dallop of dip and bingo, a tasty mummy lunch!
- One our family favourite meals at the moment is a family “picnic platter”. I place a stack of roast veg + sweet potato chips or plain potato style wedges, dips, honey chicken pieces, mountain bread chips, chopped salad and veggie sticks and we sit around on the lounge room and eat together. The kids think it’s a little party and are happy to pick away at different foods. It’s messy, but it’s fun!
I just wanted to finish off by saying – I think it’s really important for mummies to keep in mind that FOOD affects how we feel. Not just how we look. It’s such a big and tiring job being a mummy, but so important to keep our energy levels up, our emotions as calm as possible and feel somewhat in control and bursting with vibrancy and confidence. A big part of that comes from food. Your energy flows through your entire family. Your daily mannerisms and actions flow through your family. Don’t ever feel guilty for spending a few hours in the kitchen each week to fuel your circle of love.
Share with us in the comments below your favourite Kitchen Tips!