I always thought my ship would be too tightly run for this to happen, but along with every other surprising element of my motherhood journey I’ve now found myself in a position where I am cooking separate meals for everyone in the house! I have a super fussy 4-year old, a baby with allergies, a husband who enjoys big carb-y meals and then me (who also has a restricted diet due to breastfeeding an allergy baby and I like everything to be fresh, clean and healthy and less carb-y than hubby’s meals…except when I’ve just breastfed and all I want to eat is a packet of Oreos…high-five?!). Sooo, here are some time-saving tips from over at Little Eats HQ:-
Batch cook! Batch and freeze have to be the ultimate of family time-saving tips. Always think ‘batch’ whenever you are preparing any meal; even if it is making extra quinoa to use for tomorrow’s meal, or mixing up a bigger bowl of salad (no dressing). Aside from batch
cooking entire meals, it’s also a huge time saver to batch cook base sauces: if you make a big pot of tomato sauce and freeze it into portions, you can defrost it to use for a pasta sauce or a homemade pizza. Same goes for curry sauce; just defrost the portion you need throughout the week and add any fresh food you have (e.g. veggies, meat, fish).
Label & Organise: label everything in the freezer, you’ll think you can remember what everything is, but invariably you’ll find yourself trying to figure out which frozen red block is the family pasta sauce and which is the super-hot non-child friendly curry! If you are labelling Tupperware you can find dissolvable labels online or you can just use masking tape. Labelling will save you minutes (or even longer if you end up defrosting the wrong tub) and every minute counts in family life! Keeping the fridge organised is another way to save a bit of time and money; keep foods with later expiry dates behind the food expiring sooner, so nothing gets forgotten and ultimately chucked away.
Stock up: plentiful pantry items (pasta, rice, tinned tuna, tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, flour for pancakes etc) are a blessing when you haven’t had time to do the food shopping. Freezer ingredients are amazingly useful, we rely on them quite heavily in our household for quick, last minute meals. Frozen fruit is brilliant for morning smoothies and frozen ginger/garlic/onions – you can even get frozen herbs – are perfect for making a pasta sauce (just chuck in a tin of tomatoes!).
Meal-planning: ideally, we’d all sit for hours and plan what we are going to eat for the week (and stick to the plan!). My husband and I go through phases of planning our meals (during which time he whips out his trusty meal-planning spreadsheet!), but the main thing I do daily is to plan breakfast for the next morning – that’s mostly to minimise the amount of time being on my feet at 6am and to avoid the grumps that seem to circulate our brood when blood sugar levels start to dip! I prepare overnight oats for myself, make a smoothie for my 4-year old and pop a frozen cube of home-made fruit puree to thaw in the fridge for mixing into the baby’s morning cereal. My freezer is usually well-stocked enough with home-cooked meals to wing it when it comes to lunch and dinner for the little ones…makes me feel as though there is an element of spontaneity in our otherwise routine-driven lives!
One-pot dishes: these are great because not only can you just stick everything together and leave it on the hob, but they save time when it comes to washing up! Any stew or casserole dish can be a one-pot wonder.
Enlist help: get the family involved, there’s always a willing peeler lurking around the corner! Once the kids are past weaning stage, there are tonnes of vegetables that you don’t even need to peel (potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, ginger). Sadly, our date nights now take place in the kitchen whilst cleaning and cooking, or peeling and chopping in front of Netflix (Netflix n’ peel…the parenting version!).
Storage: Invest in some great storage tubs; we use Life Factory and Wean Green glass tubs, which can be used in the freezer, microwave, oven and dishwasher. We seriously couldn’t function as a family without them!
Apps: A glass of ‘something’ and a supermarket app make for a rather more enjoyable shopping experience than our parents had to endure! Food shopping apps let you create specific meal lists, weekly shopping lists, reserve regular delivery slots…
Hope I’ve saved you enough time to Netflix n’ Peel with your loved one ;o)
xx Selma @LittleEats_UK xx