With the average person eating the same six dishes on repeat, it’s not much of a wonder so many of us are bored of eating and have lost all passion for being in the kitchen.
Cooking takes time and effort as well as inspiration and motivation. All of which are often seriously lacking, especially if you’ve got a young family.
Wouldn’t it be great if thinking about, shopping for, preparing and serving meals could be quicker and easier?
I’ve got eight tips to help you feel and get more organised in the kitchen so that you can feed you and your family delicious and nutritious meals most nights (we’re only human, no one is expected to do this every night!).
1. You need a routine
Setting a meal and snack routine ensures that there will be a steady supply of food throughout the day without the constant nagging for food and you feeling like you never leave the kitchen.
Snack times can be seen as mini meals which include a balance of fruit, vegetables, protein or dairy and carbs which will help keep you and your children fuller for longer. You can also use this as an opportunity to get a wider variety of foods into you and your family.
2. Do some planning
Meal planning is a game changer. Once you start, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!
Some of the benefits of doing some planning:
- There’ll be no more last-minute panicking about what to eat, keeping your stress levels down
- You’ll eat a wider range of meals – no more being stuck in a rut eating the same meals week-in, week-out
- Which in turn means you eat better/more healthily and your little one is exposed to a greater variety of foods, which is one of the best ways to both prevent and deal with fussy eating
- You can plan meals everyone will enjoy that work with any dietary needs or fussiness
- You’ll take fewer trips to the shops – saving you time and money
- You’ll be able to spot where you can be more efficient with food, time and energy – for example, identifying what else you can prepare whilst cooking dinner to make another meal quicker and easier
- And it reduces food waste.
3. Avoid head-scratching
Keeping a list of meal ideas means that when you sit down to do some planning, you’re not scratching your head for ideas and there’s no need to worry about having a lack of inspiration.
Add to the list whenever you see a recipe you like the look of, think of something you fancy, remember a meal you haven’t had in a while, the kids request a meal, or you spot a lunch a friend has brought to a picnic that you would like to try.
4. Your freezer is your new best friend
A freezer is so useful not only for storing food but also in helping you to reduce your food waste and cut back on shopping trips/deliveries, allowing you to bulk buy when it’s more economical to do so, it supports you in being organised and makes efficient use of your time and energy in the kitchen.
5. Get batch cooking
A regular batch cook, once a week or once a fortnight, means there is always something in the freezer for a night off cooking, to get tea on the table quickly on a busy evening or to deal with changes of plans.
Bolognese, curry, chilli, soups and stews are all great to have in your freezer stash. But fish and other pies, lasagne, stir-fries and rice dishes can also be frozen. You only have to look in the freezer section of the supermarket to get an idea for what you could be freezing.
6. There’s batch prep too
Batch cooking a whole meal is a brilliant way to get organised but add to that some batch preparation and you are going to be seriously winning with your the organisation and time-saving.
Batch preparing components of a meal (vegetables, meat, fish, grains, pulses…) makes putting together lunch or dinner another night a whole lot quicker and easier.
Combine these ingredients over a few days for a variety of speedy meals – lunch or dinner and even some for breakfast! Simply add fresh ingredients like salad leaves and herbs, houmous, halloumi, falafels and a dressing.
7. Break it down into small tasks
If you feel the pressure to get a meal on the table in the evening and are very often side-tracked by nappy changes, siblings fighting, agrandparent calling just at the wrong moment or knocks on the door, how about breaking down dinner prep into small tasks and spreading them out throughout the day whenever you have a bit of time?
Five minutes here to do some chopping, 10 minutes there to cook off the vegetables, 5 minutes to prep the fish for the oven. Come 5pm, dinner happens so much quicker, is a whole lot less stressful and so much more enjoyable.
8. Give yourself a break
We’re often told to make ourselves a higher priority, to stop thinking about ourselves last. It’s hard but we need to do it for very good reasons. By looking after our own wellbeing, we can look after our family’s too.
It’s important for mealtimes too so that we can come to the table calm. If we’re calm, our children are more likely to be relaxed, meaning mealtimes will run a lot more smoothly.
One way to put yourself first at mealtimes is to make and serve one meal for everyone and give yourself a break!