I love cooking. Babies don’t always allow you to savour the process though. It becomes a chore. Meals must be provided and in that case, provisions must be made to cook quality food…on a timer.
When you are pregnant and planning before the big event, you try so hard to be ready for what is to come. People give advice both frightening and sensible, generous of spirit and some judgmental. Taking it all in is overwhelming. It is not until babies are here however that you really know the merits and demerits of various gadgets and gizmos and what works for you.
I have blogged before about cutting yourself some slack when being a parent is tough in Surviving Unexpected Toddler Bugs but if you are like me and really don’t want to overuse the ready meal (only when illness has taken over) then these few tips might help. I am going to write about my kitchen time savers. Small, often obvious and yet somehow not always utilised, maybe someone might get a good tip from this little list!
- Frozen Chopped Herbs and Vegetables. I mean, I knew these existed. I use frozen bagged peas and corn. I once visited my friend who has three children under five and she was multitasking like a demon whilst I hobbled about, heavily pregnant with my first, aimlessly attempting to ‘help’ while she actually achieved. I remember she made shepherd’s pie and threw in a bag of mixed (frozen) veg. I was always an advocate of fresh in my pies but now I know. It is better to serve your family home cooked, hot with a bit of a fast track than nothing! These days I am loving frozen chopped herbs and garlic. Who has time to peel garlic?? Jamie Oliver doesn’t even do that anymore! Frozen bag and off you go. Happy days!!
- Sharp Knife (mine is an Ulu knife). I hope most of you are wondering what I am talking about became I hadn’t a clue what this was until we were on our trip to Alaska! We bought one as a souvenir from Juneau. It is a type of knife used to gut fish with, efficient and sharp. I never expected to use it but after giving it a shot, I was hooked. This wonder slices everything in seconds with minimal mess. I now wonder whereabouts in Ireland I would get a replacement if the time came! Really I am saying that possession of a sharp knife is a kitchen essential for efficiency. I just happen to have an ulu knife!3.Kickass Vegetable Peeler. Of course, you must think, we all have these. It is important though to have an excellent one to avoid time loss and frustration. It is also the best way to shave your cheese and keep an eye on the amount if you are calorie counting!
4. One Bowl Baking. I like to bake with Gigi at least once per week and she loves it, ‘mixey mixey’ as she calls it. If we have something edible at the end, great. Therefore those baking recipes where I can put all in one bowl and then pour into buncases rock. We occasionally cheat with a Betty Crocker
Banana Muffins. Using up overripe bananas with yummy results. One bowl, mixey mixey.
5.Pasta Sauces. Make a big pot one day (when you can) and let it simmer away getting more yummy. Tinned tomatoes, garlic, onion, herbs and a few chopped cherry tomatoes together make a lovely sauce especially when seasoned. If you like, make a cheese sauce (combine milk and your cheese choices, melt slowly and season as you wish). If making a cheese sauce, it comes off the hob fairly quickly and requires watching. When your tasty sauces cool, add ladles of the mixture to freezer bags (ones that seal well) and pack them FLAT in your freezer, saving space. You could break the sauces up before you pour, adding chili to some or bacon pieces to others. Don’t forget to date and label! Someday, when life is tough, you can have a decent dinner in ten minutes and not rely on prepacked. Batch cooking meals is often advice given for new parents and I agree but this takes up whole Saturdays! So I reckon batch cooking just sauces is a quicker way of doing the same thing.
6. Gadgets. We don’t own a microwave so am I justified in talking about gadgets? Yes! I see no harm in trying out the latest time saving advice on occasion and if it doesn’t work out we part ways speedily. If it works out, we have a winner!
7. Food Scissors. Invest in a decent scissors for the kitchen especially for food and you have another winner. Cut meat in seconds.My blog readers will know that I have found mothering tough lately, see Why is Everyone Crying? if you fancy a look. This post is to help me stay positive and realise that I am achieving something. My children are eating healthily and we are all surviving. That is a pretty big deal, all considering!
Good luck saving time in the kitchen!