Here is a fabulous post by A.K on how to tame the craziness in your kitchen. We will be doing a series of these over time. Look forward to Taming of the Cupboards & Shelves or Taming of the Pantry or even Taming of the Kitchen Drawers. You will find some great ideas on how to manage your time in the kitchen below- I know I implement a lot of these and we are just a family of 2! And if all else fails... you can always do what A.K's adorable son says in this song he made up the other day! (Recognise the tune? What a classic!) How cute! W.P
Families come in all ages and sizes. We have got families with young children, seniors, single parents, bachelors, spinsters, working moms, and stay at home moms or dads. A home/family could consist of 1 to however many people living in your house with you. Lots of responsibility, time management and efficiency is required to make time spent in the kitchen go smoothly. We want to make it short and sweet as there are lots of other tasks that need to be taken care of!
Everyone has their own schedule whether it’s for work, school, University or at home. So much is involved in keeping a family and home functioning so that things can happen on time especially during the two busiest times of the day; morning and evening. For those families with young children, mornings are filled with things to do such as getting the kids ready for school, preparing breakfast for everyone, making sure it’s eaten, packing lunches and being certain that everyone arrives to their destination in time. A similar scenario awaits some families in the evening. Parents and kids are at home. Dinner has to be on the table. The kids have swimming classes or soccer practice. Homework has to be done and everyone has to get a decent night’s sleep.
Oh, but it doesn’t end there! Once the kids are in bed, the dishes have to be washed, kitchen tidied up, a load of laundry started, then a load in the dryer and clothes folded and hung. Then it’s time to take out everyone’s clothes for the next day, tidy the family room, get a bag ready with library books that need to be returned, worry about what everyone is going to take for lunch and what the family is going to have for dinner the next day! That’s a lot for one or two parents to do considering that they might have had a tiring and stressful day at work or even at home with a young baby and several errands to run. This should be a relaxing evening where the mom and/or dad can spend some quality time together after the kids have gone to bed.
Here is where we come in to help you simplify the breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table dilemma. There is no right or wrong way of organizing yourself in the kitchen, but there are some methods that I have been practicing over the years that have worked for my family. Things will be different for smaller or larger families, but you can adapt whatever tips you like and use them for your benefit. Below are a few tips that you can follow to make life easier for yourself. It takes the guesswork out of the picture and everyone knows what they will be eating for the next meal. This means that if mom is still at work and it’s time for dinner, dad will be able to serve the family a meal without feeling stressed.
A Meal Plan: I know this sounds daunting and hard, but it’s actually quite easy. It helps to save money, time and reduce the possibility of food going bad since you only have what you need. For example, create a plan that runs from Sunday to Saturday and write down what you have planned for breakfast, lunch and dinner for each day. Then take a look in your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what you have and what you need to buy. If you are going to be eating out or ordering food, make sure to write it on the meal plan.
Grocery Shopping: Once you have made your meal plan, it’s easy to do the groceries. Just buy the ingredients required to make those meals.
Food Prepping: After coming home from the grocery store, don’t just put the food away. Spend one hour that day to prep the food for the week. For example if you know you are going to make a stir fry tomorrow night, cut all the vegetables and put them in a box so that when you come home from work tomorrow, you’ll be able to make it within 20 minutes. Also, cut up fruits such as honey dew melon, strawberries, pineapple and mangoes and store then in boxes in the fridge. They make great after school snacks and you can also use them for lunches.
Freezing Portions: Every time I cook, I make enough for two meals. This not only saves me time, it also reduces utility costs and there’s always extra food in the freezer. The trick to freezing portions is to package it immediately after cooking so that it is fresh. For example, if your family consumes 12 chicken meatballs in gravy at a time, make 24. Freeze 12 in a box and take it out of the freezer the night before you are going to be eating it and put it in the fridge. When you come home that night, you will only have to make a salad, warm some Indian flat bread and heat up the chicken meatballs in gravy.
Cooked Items That Freeze Well: Lentils, soup, meat curries, meat sauce, shredded chicken, minced meat, meatballs, cooked vegetables (except potatoes), casseroles and lasagna.
Meal Accompaniments: It’s always very comforting to know that you have a week’s worth of frozen meals in the freezer. If your dinner menu for today says spaghetti and meat sauce with Greek salad, you can easily take out the meat sauce from the freezer, boil the spaghetti and prepare the salad. Also, having kebabs in the freezer can be a God send for those nights when company shows up and you need something to serve.
Chores: There are little hands in your house who would love to help if you would let them. Remember, your children will help you if you give them small daily tasks that are their responsibility only. For example my 5 year old sets the table. I put the plates, glasses and cutlery on the table for him and he is responsible for placing it on everyone’s mat. Why don’t I do it myself as I will be much faster? Well, you see it’s not just about being fast, accurate or neat; we have to do things as a family. This teaches every member of the family responsibility, respect for each other and appreciation. These values are taught at home and at school. My 10 year old empties the dishwasher and helps me put away groceries in the pantry. When he wants something, he doesn’t have to ask me for it, as he already knows where it is since he put it there. I’ve got sections in my pantry for different items, but that’s an entire post by itself. Since he’s older, I’ve also taught him how to make salad. It keeps him busy and he enjoys it. My 7 year old loves to clean, so I give him a cleaner and a duster and he cleans the appliances, tables and cupboards. I have never used money as an incentive to make my kids help around the house. Instead, I’ve spoken to them about the importance of doing things together as a family and how it gives us more time together to do things we enjoy. You don’t want your kids to remember you as a tired, grouchy and overworked mother or father. I’m sure you want them to remember you as a loving, caring, thoughtful and relaxed parent. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of doing everything yourself because you are not good at asking for help or even worse that you think that no one else will be able to do that task better than you!!!
To summarize all this, I’d like to say that your time spent in the kitchen should be short, fun and productive so that you may spend quality time with the important people in your life. If you manage your time effectively, you will find that these everyday tasks will not seem as daunting to you.
It’s always great to get your feedback. Please let us know how these tips help you and if you have any tips of your own to share. Also, leave a comment in our Comments/Feedback section. We’d love to hear from you.
hAPPY eATING & kEEP sMILING
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