How to Get Out Of A Kitchen Rut and Love Feeding Your Family
Do you adore cooking and dreaming up new ideas for ways to feed your family?
I spend as little time in my kitchen as I can possibly get away with.
I’m amazed at mothers who food blog or are professional meal planners and seem to have the whole feeding their family thing down to a science – and love doing it.
How do they have time to do all of that cooking and take photos and write about it?
Meanwhile I’ve got my head in my hands moaning, ‘Oh why do they need to eat dinner every night?!’
I vaguely remember a time when I did enjoy cooking. I bought recipe books, clipped things out of magazines and was always trying new dishes.
Clearly it was only a phase.
Three years ago things got bad. I flew blind at the supermarket without much of a list. I never seemed to have the right ingredients to put together a meal everyone liked. I felt like a failure at feeding my family.
So I set myself a goal to get my act together in the kitchen.
I’ve come in leaps and bounds in the Planning department, I now have a system for Meal Planning that works.
Every Sunday I sit down, bite the bullet and just do it. And if I ever have a week that I don’t do it, I deeply regret it and it doesn’t happen again for a long time.
It’s great to know what I’m going to cook for dinner every evening and that I’ve bought the ingredients to make it (hurrah!), but now it’s time to tackle my next challenge.
Too often I don’t get started on the prep side of it early enough. I tear myself away from whatever I’m doing, dash into the kitchen, only to realise what I’ve planned to cook takes more time than I’d thought. I end up with cranky kids begging me for a pre-dinner snack to hold them over while I rush through it – begrudging every minute. Not a lot of love going into that food.
My avoidance of the kitchen needed to be addressed. Resenting and begrudging it doesn’t make it any easier, nor does procrastinating and leaving until the last moment.
I knew I needed to overcome this hurdle, so I scheduled in some solution time last week to hash it out on paper.
I decided to re-frame how I view feeding my family. Here’s what I came up with:
- I value our health. I want my kids to eat well balanced meals, have strong immune systems and healthy bodies. I want this for my husband and I too – in addition to meals which aren’t fatty/high calorie.
- I value variety. I myself like trying new foods and want my kids to continue eat a wide range of cuisines and be open to trying new things.
- I value family mealtimes together. I like sitting down together to eat and talk.
- I feel a sense of pride when I cook something my family enjoys, especially when I’ve put some love into it.
(As I wrote all of this I could already feel an internal shift in my attitude.)
My husband asked what I was writing and I confessed that I find the whole business of figuring out what to feed everyone every night plus the shopping and cooking a drag and was trying to work out how to make it better.
He kindly offered to cook more often. (Wow!)
Then my kids chimed in and started telling me how much they like my cooking. They appreciate that if I make something they don’t really like one day, I make one of their favourite things another day. My 12 year old offered to help me meal plan and cook. I started feeling a lot better. (Once I switched out of hard-done-by, resentful mode, I began to attract positive solutions.)
Going back to my original issue, I remembered that the meal planning part is okay now. I just need to find ways to prep it easier and faster.
So I wrote to two of my lovely online biz buddies who to both happen to live an apron and run websites to help mothers get their act together in the kitchen.
They came back with a lot of great food prep tips.
I love what Ashley Srokosz of Love What You Eat suggested:
“Cook a whole or half chicken in the crockpot: just put it on in the morning for 8-10 hours on low before you go to work or get sidetracked with errands, and you’ll come home to the best and moistest roast chicken you’ve ever had in your life. Depending on the size of your family, there should be lots of leftovers for quick lunches or some soul-satisfying chicken noodle soup, fajitas or tacos.”
Even though I was born in America, I’ve lived in Europe for so long that the whole concept of crockpot cooking has passed me by. I don’t own one or even know where I’d buy one. However, I do know that throwing a chicken into a huge pan and covering with cold water, adding peppercorns, salt and a couple of carrots, an onion cut in half and a bay leaf and letting it simmer all day means I have loads of shredded chicken I can freeze in portions and pull out on other days to make tacos, nachos, soups and sandwiches. I then fill empty glass jars with portions of the broth to freeze and use in stocks for soups, chilli, risotto, etc etc.. (I remember now how great it is when I do this – I just need to do it more regularly!)
Ashley also said to double my recipes. Never cook for just my family of four when I can cook for eight and freeze the leftovers. I do this already with Bolognese sauce, chilli and soups, but I want to think about this every time I cook and when I can be doing it more often.
Nicholette von Reiche, Health and Energy Coach for Busy Moms had some more great tips:
“Always be batching! I prep on Sundays, but I only cook 3-4 nights a week. Whenever I cook, I make sure that we can eat from that same meal at least two more times. I don’t mean you make a big stew and eat it over the next three days, I mean you freeze it and repurpose the meal. (She gave me this great free printable for keeping track of what’s in my freezer.)
If you’re strapped for time in the week use your weekends to prep your basics. You’ll be amazed at what you can prep in an hour while listening to music, an audio book or watching a TV show. Look at the meals you have planned for the week. What can you pre-prep in advance on a weekend to save time in the week. e.g grains, roasting veggies, making a batch of home made granola or muffins or even boiling some eggs and making a home made salad dressing. Batch these tasks like this: let your veggies roast, while the rice cooks and you prep the granola.”
Well, it’s never occurred to me to make my own granola, but I love the idea of making salad dressing and boiling some eggs so I can just grab from the fridge and peel – and I’m feeling inspired to make some banana bread and also some humus and tuna dip… (I can feel myself getting into the spirit of things now…)
I also love Nicholette’s idea of meal planning with a glass of wine… Maybe I can view it as Me-Time?? I’m also going to play music as I cook to shift my attitude and make it more fun.
Exploring my negativity in the kitchen has helped me see that I actually do value my role in this family as the one who meal plans, shops and cooks. It’s a damn important job! As with anything in life, we create our own reality and if we’re not approaching the jobs we have to do with positivity, we’re not doing ourselves any favours, right?
In comments below, please share how you feel about feeding your family. If you’ve lost your kitchen mojo (or never had it in the first place!), can you create some strategies to get yourself out of a rut? Do you need to schedule in some solution time and hatch a plan? If you’ve got any tips to share, we’d love to hear them.
Want some fresh inspiration for what to make?
www.foodgawker.com will have you drooling.
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