Feeding the family during lockdown

I was asked earlier in the week by Maria, who runs the Mummy on a Break website, to write a guest blog post about feeding the family during lockdown. Thank you, Maria! This is what I had to say…

From talking to other mums in recent weeks, it strikes me that we’re in two camps. Some have extra time to spend with their family because they’re not working for whatever reason or their responsibilities are reduced. Most I’ve talked are like me, struggling with the juggle of work, home school, full-time childcare and housework.

We’re at home now all day, every day, with a responsibility to feed our families three meals a day (plus snacks) seven days a week. For many, that’s a whole lot more meals than we’re used to, carrying with it both a time and a financial burden.

Some days will be very hard that’s for certain but there are ways to make life that little bit easier. Here are my tips for feeding the family during lockdown.

1. Implement a routine

As we’re stuck at home, potentially feeling bored, worried and stressed, we’re likely to reach for food more often than we need.

To make your food last longer and prevent you piling on the pounds, implement and stick to a meal and snack routine.

Try and use your routine to get a variety of foods into you and your family. Snack times can be seen as mini meals which include a balance of fruit, veg, protein and carbs.

But don’t use your routine as an excuse to eat if you’re not hungry. Listen to your body and pick up on its hunger cues. Think you’re hungry but not long since eaten? Try having a glass of water and reassess later.

2. Think outside the box

Access to food isn’t as easy as it was before lockdown. We’re all going to need to think outside the box and get a bit creative if the ingredients we want or need aren’t available.

Think about alternatives that you can use, researching recipes to help you use up what you’ve got in the fridge and learn how to cook with store cupboard ingredients.

There are some tips on here if you need help with substituting ingredients.

3. Shop local

Save time queuing and have a more pleasant and quiet shopping experience by shopping local. Local small businesses are going to be fighting for survival and need your help. Many are delivering their goods too as they are adapting their businesses to meet the needs of their community.

In lockdown with extra time?

1. Try something new

Use your extra time to look for new meal ideas and try them out so that you have extra meals to add to the family dinnertime repertoire. You’ll be thankful when back to your busy daily routine after lockdown that you have a wider range of meals to fall back on.

2. Batch cook

Use your time wisely by doing some batch cooking. Stock up the freezer for when life returns to normal and we’re all rushing around with limited time to cook. Homemade ready meals will come to your rescue.

3. Cook together

See cooking as an activity you can do with your children, spending quality time with them.

Home schooling is about more than maths and literacy. We’ve been gifted time to teach our children essential life skills that we may not have been able to teach them were we to be carrying on life as normal.

Embrace the mess! Prepare for a cooking session like you would any craft activity by allowing plenty of time for it and having everything ready to go (for example, utensils and ingredients out). Bear in mind that you’re going to need clean up time too!

Struggling with the juggling?

1. Plan ahead

Meal planning is the answer to so many problems, whether in lockdown or not. But for those of us juggling more hats than we care to think about, it’s going to be key to survival!

Meal planning will make it easier to feed everyone three meals a day plus snacks and will cut down the shopping trips.

Spend a little time thinking about the dishes you can make for the week so you can get on with preparing a meal without having to scratch around for ideas when everyone’s already hungry.

You’ll find more help with meal planning and feeding the family here.

2. Make best use of your time, energy and ingredients

You can do this by thinking about what else you can make or what you might be able to cook extra of whilst you’re cooking tea one night.

Can you cook extra rice, pasta, potatoes, grains, pulses, meat, fish or veg that will make another meal quicker and easier or that combined with bits and pieces from another few days will make up a couple of lunches?

Can you double the quantity of a meal so that you can put some in the freezer for another week or so that you can turn what’s left into lunch or dinner the next day?

How about breakfast? Could you make enough overnight oats, for example, to last two days and prepare a fruit salad or fruit compote to go with it as well as for the children to snack on throughout the day?

Meal planning will really help make this easier.

3. Eat family-style

Don’t make this time any more stressful by cooking a different meal for everyone, instead serve meals ‘family-style’. All that means is putting all the food in the middle of the table on dishes and platters for everyone to help themselves rather than plating up individual meals.

Eating this way has the added bonus of being more sociable as you’re passing dishes, asking for more of something, and fighting over the last roast potato!

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