How to feed your kids and stay sane while doing it!
Feeding your tribe is no joke! Since having our daughter, food has become a really important element of our lives. Firstly, because we are now eating at home more often… apparently food-tossing toddler tantrums are not acceptable at most restaurants… and secondly, because now that I’m feeding this tiny human that my poor body spent 40 weeks growing, I am a lot more conscious about what food we are buying, where it has come from and how good it really is for us and most especially, for her.
However, having kids also means that most of that luxurious disposable free time that you took for granted pre-kids is now gone down the drain along with your waistline and those fabulous Saturday morning sleep in’s! As a result, being smart with your time in the kitchen is really important.
Here are my top 3 tips for being super organised in your busy family kitchen:
1. Make a meal plan every week
Now, this might sound like a chore (and a boring one at that!) but trust me on this one. Making a meal plan is the first step to keeping your kitchen in order for the week.
When you’re making your plan, make sure to bear in mind who is around on what evenings for dinner and how much time you will have that day to prepare it. There’s no point planning to cook a full roast dinner on a night when you only have 30 minutes between school pick up and soccer drop-offs– you’re setting yourself up for a fall! There is also no point cooking such a monstrous dinner if the whole family are not around to enjoy it.
Don’t forget to have a look in the fridge and in your cupboards to incorporate anything you already have that needs using up. For instance, you might have a box of lasagna sheets so why not add that to your meal plan for the week?
Take leftovers into account too. That way you can avoid any food waste and make the most of what you’re buying.
2. Write down a shopping list and stick to it
From your meal plan, work out exactly what groceries you are going to need. This way, you will be less inclined to spend money on unnecessary ingredients or luring special offers that you really don’t need.
It also means that what’s in your trolley will actually create meals, meals that you have already planned out for the week.
Making a grocery list from your meal plan will more than likely save you time at the supermarket too! With a very specific list, you can be much more focused cutting out any potential time spent standing staring at the 25 different types of pasta on offer and wondering which you want to buy and what you will cook with it. Then you can spend that free time having a quiet coffee and some well-earned downtime!
3. Batch cook
When I find myself having more time than usual in the kitchen, I like to put it to good use and do some batch cooking. This is a great way to stock your freezer with what are essentially healthy ready-meals that you can take out when you’ve had a busy day and don’t feel like cooking.
Batch cooking also comes in handy when you have major life changes! When I was pregnant with Olivia, I spent some batch cooking dinners that we would have to eat in those first few hazy weeks. And I was never so glad! It was one less thing for us to do in the day and also meant that we ate well. So, despite being totally sleep-deprived, we didn’t feel completely run down (and financially poor!) from eating junk food.
Spaghetti Bolognese is a firm favourite in most households, particularly mine! The great thing about this Bolognese recipe is that it can easily double up as the sauce and meat for your lasagna or can be stirred into some penne pasta for another variation.
As you can see from the method, it’s a super simple, throw-it-all-in-the-pot kind of recipe – the perfect dinner for your busy family!
Total time: 1 hr 20 minutes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hr 5 minutes
500g minced beef
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
A handful of fresh basil, chopped
A handful of rosemary, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1 beef stock cube
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
4 – 5 cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp of passata
Salt and pepper to season
- Saute the onion and garlic on a hot pan for a couple of minutes then add the meat to brown.
- Once the meat is done, transfer to a large pot and add the remaining ingredients, stirring well to combine and ensuring that the stock cube melts into the mixture.
- Allow to simmer for 1 hour then serve with some freshly cooked spaghetti.
- This is an ideal recipe for the slow cooker. In fact, the longer you can cook this the more the flavours will come out.
- You can also cook this dinner a little quicker if you need to by par-boiling the carrots before adding them to the pot.
- For a hint of smokiness, add some chopped up chorizo to this Bolognese. It’s a great extra layer of flavour and will give your dish a bit of flair!
- Don’t worry if you don’t have cherry tomatoes, these are somewhat optional but a great addition if you have a few spare in the fridge. It’s also a great way to use up any tomatoes that are about to go bad!
- A lot of people tell me that they don’t like celery but I would urge you to try it in this bolognese. When you cook the celery it sweetens and I guarantee you won’t have that strong flavour like you do when it’s raw. Celery is full of nutrition so it’s a great way to sneak it into your diet if you don’t like to eat it raw.