If you’re looking for me around 4 or 5 o’clock, don’t look for me in the kitchen (where I should be). I’m usually out floating around the sea on a surfboard, or taking the kids to the playground or the park or the beach. Sometime around that time when I *should* have already had dinner prepared, (5 or 6 o’clock), I always come crashing through the front door, dirty, sweaty, hungry and with two cranky kids who desperately need to be showered and fed. I yell to my husband, who is already exhausted from a long day at work, ‘Can you help me watch them while I make dinner?!?!’ Then, I spend the next half hour or so cooking dinner/refereeing fights/answering a million questions/possibly breastfeeding/most likely tripping over playthings strewn all over the kitchen and for the most part, tearing my hair out and rolling my eyes wondering why this is all so crazy. I always enjoy being spontaneous, but sometimes my spontaneity gets me into a bit of trouble.
Today, I posted a question on my Katesurfs facebook page, asking other mothers how they avoid the dinnertime melt down. I was offered some really awesome and practical advice on how other people make it happen. I have to do a big facepalm here because the advice they were offering was probably something I had learned years ago when I was in high school home economics class. In high school, I was probably doing everything else (daydreaming about boys, praying for a snowday, planning my escape from small town America) besides paying attention to what the teachers were saying. I bet my home ec teacher was probably telling us about large batch cooking, meal planning and budget, but I may not have been listening.
I know there is meaning to behind being organised in the kitchen! We’re vegan, and sometimes vegan cooking requires a little bit of extra planning, for example if you have to soak some beans or something. So, that’s even more the reason why I should put in a little extra consideration to meal time. This ayurveda guy told me once that people like me really need to eat a lot of nicely cooked food and my day should revolve around cooking. I’ll also never forget, when I was in Sicily staying with some of my friend’s family, the woman were in the kitchen ALL day! ALL day! Eating was very important to them!
Ok, so some of the awesome recommendations that were suggested were as follows (thank you my awesome facebook friends!)
- Meal planning is key, aim for planning one or two weeks in advance
- Large batch cooking for things like sauces and put them in the freezer
- Buy your veggies first and then fill out your meal plan according to what veggies you have
- You can ‘Never start cooking dinner too early‘, this one is my favourite.. possibly my new mantra, or maybe, ‘Cook now, so I can surf later‘
- Slow cookers, and rice cookers are awesome
- Set the table first that way everyone thinks dinner is ready and by the time it really is ready, they will all be ready (ugh, how long does it take to get everyone to the table).
- You can reuse the same meal plan (duh, I should know this being a school teacher)
So, tonight, I complied their advice and in five minutes, I considered what we would eat for dinner, made it early and timed its completion perfectly with my husband’s arrival home from work. Yes, I totally felt domestically awesome, as in ‘this is soooo how my grandmother would have done things in the 1950’s.’ There was no fussing from the kids, my husband was happy, and I even had time to do the dishes afterwards without having to rush off to do the bed time routine. Hmmmm… me thinks… there could be something to this.
So, here I’m making my vow be publicly known… That from this day forth, I will put in a little bit of consideration to my meal planning BEFORE the poo hits the fan. I WILL make a meal plan! I WILL! I WILL! (Ok, please, feel free to bug me in a few weeks to make sure I’m still doing it). I will be organised! I think too, if I make a meal plan, then I will end up wasting less food. Sometimes I regrettably end up throwing away some veggies at the end of the week. I can’t stand to waste food!
I love to be spontaneous, but I think there is an art form to being spontaneous and organized at the same time, right? What do you do to make mealtimes happen? Whether you’re a single person or a family of twenty, everyone has some sort of way they get food on the table. I would love to hear what you do!