Cooking, cooking and more cooking

For the past twelve days I’ve been on a mission to get my two foodie* New Year’s Resolutions off to a great start. As a result, my hands are raw from constant dish washing, I’m running out of tupperwear and my house stinks of cooking (I’m writing this with a scented candle burning), but… it’s happening! The freezer is filling up, and my family are showing interest in their meals again.

I’m feeling excited about finally getting on top of healthy eating, plus the reduction of our rubbish that’s happened as a result. I’d be lying, however, if I said it was effortless. Far from it – I have to plan meals a few days ahead, which involves scouring for recipes, making shopping lists, and popping out for ingredients. I realise though that I’m not in a routine yet. In addition, I’ve done a lot of time consuming batch cooking which will save me hours in the weeks ahead.

If you are even vaguely interested (!), then here are the evening meals I’ve provided for my family since the New Year began. I’ve only recorded the side dishes we’ve had where I’ve had to specially to prepare them to a recipe, but mostly we have veg and sometimes potatoes:

1 January: Steak Pie

2 January: Vegetable Crumble

3 January: Chickpea Stew

4 January: Pasta Bolognaise

5 January: Tomato Sauce with pasta

6 January: Vegetarian Haggis

7 January: Homemade Pizza

8 January: Quark Pasta with roasted butternut squash done in cumin & coriander

9 January: Chickpea Stew

10 January: Tortilla with roasted butternut squash with caramelised sugar (thanks Snail of Happiness!)

11 January: Vegetarian goulash with brown rice

12 January: Tomato and Mozzarella tart

On top of that I’ve batch cooked;

Lentil soup, vegetable soup and curried carrot soup (some of the meals above were also part of a batch)

and baked:

Flapjacks, pear pie, marble cake, quark cakes and countless loaves of bread in the breadmaker.

(I’ve linked to recipes where I’ve discovered them on the internet).

All of this food preparation has been both exhilarating and exhausting! My other half is truly delighted with the increased preparation in the kitchen and has been helping with other jobs around the house and child care so that I can get off to a good start. The kids are still doing a fair bit of poking at their food with forks (but what is it Mummy?!) but they are loving the extra baking I’m doing, and there have been some pleasant surprises – such as my youngest loving chickpea stew.

In an attempt to reduce our food waste I’m finding that no sooner have I prepared one dish than I’m looking for a recipe for another, to use up leftover lemons or half a leek, which keeps my momentum up.

Will I keep this going? I certainly hope so. I can slow down now that I have several meals prepared in the freezer, but I’m aware that healthy meal preparation is a habit, and I’ve got to keep working away at it so that it becomes part of my lifestyle. I’ll keep you updated on my progress!**

*1.I will dramatically increase the amount of food that I cook from scratch, using organic ingredients where practically possible, with the aim of reducing the packaging I contribute to landfill. 2.I am going to provide healthier and more varied food for my family.

** and I’ll include photos in the next food post – they won’t upload and my IT support is currently at work 😉

 

 

Advertisements

Preparing to prepare food

In my last post I outlined my New Year’s Resolutions. The first three (writing, sewing and knitting) are a pleasure so, if I’m not doing them, it’s likely to be as a result of time constraints, or being unable to justify them as a priority against the background of a busy family life. My last two however involve food planning and preparation – definitely more of chore!

With that in mind, I decided to jump right in at the start of the year and get off to a good start with cooking and baking from scratch.

As everyone who wants to succeed at anything knows, a little planning goes a long way. Often when I go to prepare a meal, I can only think of a handful of food options – and usually we’ve either eaten them recently or the kids hate them! I therefore grabbed a pen and piece of scrap paper one night with the family and got everyone to shout out every meal we’ve ever had.

IMG_3049

It was a surprisingly fun exercise and the kids happily shared their thoughts on each dish as I wrote it down (my other half kept quiet, he’s just happy he’s not responsible for the cooking!)

So now at least I have a list of ideas to keep handy when inspiration has deserted me.

I have been procrastinating over my next task for over a year. I wanted to find new recipes. In the end, it was a simple and quick job. I opened up netmums and mumsnet, went to their recipe pages and printed off the first ten that I thought looked easy and tasty.

IMG_3023

 

Finally I bought myself a small diary in the sales (£1) to record what I was making each day, plus what we ate for dinner every night. This is a way of monitoring my progress and motivating myself by being able to see a log of my good work – that’s the idea anyway…

To date (6 days in!), I’m happy to report that my methods are working. I’ve been cooking and baking most days. I’ve also been batch cooking and freezing the spare portions for those days the kids have classes after school, and I’m short of time to prepare food.

Realistically, after having a good break over Christmas, I know my energy levels and enthusiasm are much higher than they will be as time goes on, but for now, I’m off to a good start. I’ll keep you updated on my progress!