Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What I Shared With The Ladies - Part 4

Continued from Part 1 ... and Part 2 ... and Part 3 ...

Let's talk specifically about the kitchen / meal preparation for a few minutes : what holds you back ? And what my be some simple solutions ?

A few thoughts I had …

“I don't like having to cook every single night”
… this can be a tough one, especially when we are busy. One thing I try to do is double (or sometimes triple) recipes that freeze well. We eat the meal that night, I pack lunches for the next day, and then I package up one or two meals worth of the leftovers, label them and put them in the freezer. It is minimal extra effort to cook more than what you were already cooking and now you have a home cooked meal for a night that you are too busy or too tired to cook.

If you are interested in links to my favorite recipes that freeze well, leave me a comment and I'll do a post ...

“I don't know how to cook.”
The best way to learn is to do it. The library is full of cookbooks, the web is full of recipes, the tv has cooking shows that are quite informative. Do you have a friend who is a good cook ? Ask them if you can cook with them from time to time. I LOVE cooking with other people. And I learn so much when I do !

(one of my favorite beginner cookbooks)

Check out foodgawker or tastespotting as great places to find great recipes !
Or my cooking blog ... :) You are always welcome at The Beans Blog !

“I'm too busy.”
I've got two words. CROCK POT. (SLOW COOKER) Putting together ingredients the night before and then turning it on in the morning, or just getting up a few minutes early to throw it all together. The crock pot has saved me more than a few times ! AND, crock pot meals are normally large, I almost always have leftovers to freeze !


If you are interested in links to my favorite crock pot recipes, leave a comment and I'll do a post !

“I don't like being in the kitchen alone.”
Me neither ! I much prefer to cook with and talk ! Sometimes it is unavoidable. Sometimes I ask Rory if he will come chat with me. Sometimes he sits in the living room and plays guitar … that is nice too. Sometimes I put a friend on speaker phone and we cook and talk together ! Often the kids will sit at the dining room table and do homework or coloring in or create board games. They are pretty chatty during those times. Sometimes they help me in the kitchen, Alia has started helping pack lunches while I cook dinner. I love that. Sometimes it is inevitable and I have to be in the kitchen alone … if I do, I make sure I put on some great music to take my mind off it !

Another suggestion, especially if you are home during the day … do you have a friend who is in the same boat who you could cook with ? Maybe get together one morning and cook a couple of meals together that you could take home and eat a few nights that week ?

“I can't concentrate on cooking because the kids are fighting or running around all crazy.”
This happens at my house !!! I have a few solutions. One is to let them watch a movie. I used to do this more when they were younger. I saved the movie watching time for when I needed them to sit quietly for a period of time. I don't do it so much now that they are older. Now, I'll have them come sit at the dining room table with a quiet activity. Or I'll have them each spend some time playing in their own rooms. That usually works best.

“Clean up. Yuck.”
I used to cook and do the dishes. Rory really wanted me to add packing his lunch to that as well. At that point, I was still packing the kids lunches in the morning before school, but there was no way I was getting up at 4:30am to pack him a lunch before work. But I also couldn't cope with the thought of cooking, then packing all the lunches, then cleaning the kitchen ! So … we struck a bargain. And it was actually HIS IDEA ! I cook, we all (kids included) clear the table and put our own dishes into the dishwasher. I pack the lunches. Rory puts away the food, washes up the things that don't go into the dishwasher and wipes down the table. We have been doing this for a couple of years now and it is a brilliant system ! We all have home packed lunches and I'm not in the kitchen til midnight trying to do it all on my own.


Don't go home and tell your husband he has to do this ! I share this to encourage you to find a system that works for both of you !

Maybe I am the only one, but the thing I dislike is feeling rushed when I cook. I am busy all day long. Getting the kids to school, going to work, working all day, taking the kids to their after school activities, fitting in exercise … all before dinner. When it's time to start cooking, I change into comfy clothes, I often light the candle that sits on the counter over my sink, I put music on, sometimes I pour a glass of wine. I create an environment where I don't feel rushed and then I cook. Obviously, this doesn't happen every day but I try to make it happen as often as possible so that I ENJOY it. I always thinkg.... if we HAVE to do it anyway, why not make it enjoyable ?

“I cook and then no-one wants to eat what I cook.”
I try to cook things we will all like. Of course, right ? But we don't all like the same things. And sometimes, because I'm quite experimental, I cook something that is horrible. But, in 13 years of marriage, there have only been about 4 meals that were too bad to actually eat. But what about the kids ? Do all of your kids eat what you put in front of them ?


We traveled a pretty long road with getting our kids to eat. It started when Jono was two and before Alia was really eating much actual food. I was tired of cooking two meals, one for us and one for them. Mainly because the one I cooked for them was Kraft mac and cheese which has ZERO nutritional value and probably did more harm than good. I will not try to convince you that this was an easy road ... it sooo was not. They'd cry. They'd refuse to eat. They'd complain. They'd push their food around on their plates, as if it'd go away magically somehow. Meals would last way longer than they should have. Frustration levels were high. But we persisted.

1.) There are two choices at our dinner table. Eat. Or go to bed. Both of the children have chosen the latter, especially early on ! It happens very rarely now. But, it is still the rule. When the "I'm hungries" start, our answer is always the same "You can have breakfast in the morning ..." And yes, we always stick to that. And no, they don't wither away in the night.

2.) No thank you servings. My parents did this with us and we always do it with the kids when introducing a new food. It was especially helpful when we first started ! Foods that I knew the kids liked (pasta, rice, etc ... ) I'd give then a normal helping. Foods that I knew they didn't like, I'd give them a "no thank you" serving. One bite. And they HAD to eat it. The next time we had that food, I'd give them a bigger bite ... until eventually, it wasn't a problem. Some nights, they'd have a bowl of rice with one piece of curried chicken, one piece of broccoli and nothing else. But now ... they'll eat all veggies. Except mushrooms, they still have “no thank you” servings of mushrooms.

3.) Veggie snacks before dinner. I respond to their "I'm hungries" right before dinner with "You may have a carrot." I figure if they are not really hungry, they will refuse it. But if they are really hungry and want to fill their bellies with carrot ... well, I'm happy with that. Alia learned to love carrots this way !! I did it with raw cauliflower, raw brocolli, and tomatoes too.

4.) We don't always have dessert now but when we were first trying to get the kids to eat we had it as an extra incentive to finish their meals. Dessert is usually mango, or watermelon, or frozen blueberries. Sometimes we have yogurt. On occasion ice cream. However, our rule for dessert is not "You have to finish your dinner to have dessert." Our rule is "You have to finish your dinner without complaining to have dessert." Yes, we had to withhold dessert some nights. Yes, it was hard. Especially when one child got it and the other didn't. But ... it worked. We have very little complaining at our dinner table now ... even though we don't always have dessert !!

"I don't have the proper equipment"
If you were employed to do a job, you would expect to have the proper equipment. If you were a seamstress, you would expect to have a sewing machine. Or at least a needle and thread. If you were an office manager, you'd expect to have a computer, or at least a pen and paper. Not having the proper equipment in your kitchen can be a huge frustration. I cooked for years without having a good knife. The year my husband bought me a good chefs knife, cemented for me, how important it is to have a few good basics. A good knife and cutting board. A stock pot. A frying pan. These would be a few of what I consider to be basics. Investing over time in other things like ... a crock pot, a blender, a good food processor, gadgets (I LOVE GADGETS) is good too. Stocking a kitchen with equipment takes years. And is not cheap. I still don't have a mixer !! But doing it over time, saving and investing, and making good use of what you have invested in is worth it.

"I'm not as good at this as my friend Mary is ...."
Comparing ourselves to others. Don't do it. It will kill your motivation. Instead, recognize the strengths of the people around you and learn from them. If someone is good at something you aren't so good at, watch them, talk to them, ask questions, learn from them.

... stay tuned for part 5
(where I will give you some of my most basic organizational tips)

PS ... I am going away for a few days so part five will come towards the end of the week ...


Mari September 20, 2011 at 11:19 AM  

I'm just catching up on your posts as I was on vacation last week. I'm loving this - you gave so much good info!
I love freezer meals and always appreciate new recipes!

Mrs. Moose September 21, 2011 at 6:32 AM  

WOW! I cannot explain to you what a blessing this blog is! I ran across it just clicking the next button on Blogger. I don't have kids, but I plan to and the previous posts and this one about traditions and cooking and family touched me so much I was tearing up! I want this! and it took me so long to figure out what I wanted. Thank you for touching a spot deep inside that I was afraid to go to.
God Bless you!

andrafaye September 21, 2011 at 10:43 AM  

I love this Bonnie. Thanks for sharing. I'm working on only making one meal!!

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