How do busy parents manage to cook decent meals when the demands of daily life mean we're time-poor? Something New's Sebrina knows a thing or two about running a house, two thriving businesses and making time for her family. Here she tells us her cooking secret...
So how much of our time do we spend feeding our families?
Quite a lot I think... I have been pondering how much time do we actually spend thinking about food; what to cook, what to put on our shopping lists, what to meal plan, and what to prepare. This is so much time and it's EVERY day!
Then you add in weaning, trying to be more environmentally friendly plus any dietary requirements you may have in the family and there you have it - its become a hoo-har already, and you've only got as far as thinking about dinner, let alone shopping and making it!
I am a busy working ME, (must not forget the ME. Everyone deserves to be themselves as well as mum, dad, wife, etc. but we seem so often to forget that), a mum to three girls and a wife. I would like to think that after all these years I am a pro at this now, but really, sometimes I feel like I'm nowhere near. One thing I have learnt though is if it's natural, then it has to be good, right?
I am gluten and dairy free, not by choice but for health reasons, so when cooking I plan meals that I can slightly tweak for;
the one with dietary requirements
the ones in the family who try my food and say yuck and turn their noses up
the ickle one in the family who is still learning and adapting to the glorious world of food!
The 'foodie', my wonderful but fussy husband who loves high-quality food with lots of meat.
I like to call it dynamic cooking.
At the start of each week I cook something which is vast so I know that I will have spare to ensure that I have back up in the fridge. That's my stash for the next couple of days in case I have one of those weeks and need 'emergency dinners' to help take the pressure off, or ideal for those nights you end up hosting unexpected visitors. I don't do anything fancy or complicated, just a simple pasta bake with lots of meat and vegetables; I make two, one regular and one gluten and dairy free. (Sigh, I really miss dairy)
This week I mixed it up! I got a whole chicken from the supermarket, I halved a lemon and added some garlic inside the chicken and let it cook. I boiled some potatoes and put some broccoli and carrots and for the majority, added gravy. This was a hit! It was very yummy, and the house smelt delicious - it actually turned out to be an all-round winner...
I didn't need to edit it much for the little weaning one; I took the chicken, boiled potatoes and veg and blitzed it up. Separated into two bowls one for dinner time and one to go in the fridge (after cooling) for another day. I tend to give my littlest one (9 months) some pieces of food whole to eat, which leans towards baby-led weaning, and then I give her the pureed food myself to ensure I know how much she is eating. I find this the best of both worlds. My little one is able to explore all those textures and smells of food and feed herself, learning valuable hand-eye coordination, but I also know she's got a full tummy too.
My bigger girls and husband enjoyed the full roast chicken dinner with lots of gravy and, to my delight, it was one meal that didn't need any amendments to suit my dairy and gluten free life! A simple meal with lots of nutrition for a dynamic dinner time!
So what about the rest of this week? With the leftover chicken, I made a chicken pesto pasta meal and added sweetcorn, peppers and cheese. All the children loved it and even took it for lunchboxes! There was even enough chicken to make a few chicken sandwiches, and my clever husband used the last of it to make a nutritious homemade soup - so we not only had loads of healthy meals, but it was also amazing for our shopping budget. Plus, we've found out that the smallest LOVES chicken pesto pasta!