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Health, Home, and Happiness: Traditional Food in Real Lives- Working Around the Work Schedule

Friday, May 14, 2010

Traditional Food in Real Lives- Working Around the Work Schedule

When talking about traditional slow real food, an issue that comes up often is, 'How does this work with working families?'.

I know that I end up doing most of my cooking in the morning. If I forget something at the grocery store it's not a big deal to pack up the kids and go pick it up.  I have the time to let bread rise for a couple hours during the day if it takes that long, to allow the yogurt to come to the correct temperature before putting in jars to culture, and I can let my chicken stock simmer all day.

To address the issue that working families, couples, and singles face I thought I'd try an experiment- I'm going to see if I can not do anything food-related during 'regular working hours' from7:30-5:00 (my husband works construction from 8:00 to 4:30... so our 'family clock' is likely shifted an hour earlier than most people).

I'm going to have lunches prepared and ready to go, all my grocery shopping done, and see if I can still get a wholesome dinner on the table by 6:00 p.m.- half an hour to prepare. I'll post the results of what we ate, and how realistic this was in our family.

I asked about this on Facebook  (do you 'like' my page on Facebook? Click here to get to my facebook page) and got some great insight from working people who do this every week:

"Working parents can cook real food we just have to make it simple. I work full time and am able to feed my family well. If you prepare even 2 meals on Sunday it will last 4 dinners. One pastured chicken can go a LONG way (fried rice, quesadillas, soup). I go to the grocery only Sundays and shop for the week. I pack my kids lunches every morning. I get my veggies once a week (after work) from a CSA (consumer supported agriculture). Once a month we get our raw milk & butter. I get my grass fed meats from another co-op bi-monthly. If we all take baby steps finding nutrient dense sources for food, little by little, you will find a way that works for you and doesn't become overwhelming. Just a little bit of planning on the weekend will make the week much easier :)" Linda

"Small blocks of time --3-5 hours -- on the weekend. You can make a soup, home made yogurt or slow-cook oatmeal, hard-boil eggs and prep veggies for the week. I don't get home until 9pm on the weekdays, yet I eat a home-cooked, nutrient-dense meal every night by 9:20pm" Kate

Inspiring, isn't it?

Logistics for making this work for our family:
  • Menu planning and grocery shopping on Saturday morning. 
  • Food prep on Sunday afternoon. I enjoy my time in the kitchen while dad watches the kids on Sunday afternoons, I usually do some meal prep then anyway.
  • Prepare the next day's lunch the night before, easy breakfasts in the mornings.
  • Keeping dishes down to a minimum too!
I'm looking forward to this week! 
:)  I think it will be a nice change of pace- we'll enjoy the new warmer weather, maybe craft a little bit, visit parks and friends, and spend 9 hours a day not cooking :) I enjoy cooking too, but sometimes it's fun to change things up a bit.  Maybe my laundry will even get caught up!

Next up: My grocery list and menu plan!
I'll be posting this week what I got done, what we ate, and any random reflections.

Do you do traditional food while you work full time outside the home? What are some hangups you come across balancing healthy meals and a real family schedule? 

Edited to add all parts of this series: Continue below
*Traditional Food in Real Lives- How can this be done around the work schedule?
Grocery Shopping and Menu Planning
Weekend Meal Prep
Tuesday and Wednesday
Thursday and Friday- the home stretch
Reflections on this week and how it impacts me as a stay at home mom, and adjustments I'd make if I did work outside the home



Blogger CinnamonAndSass said...

Great idea! I can't wait to see how it turns out for you! One of my biggest challenges is reading all these fabulous real food/slow food blogs but then making it work for myself with a full time job. It can definitely be done, it just takes a different approach. Although, to make it realistic, laundry is out too. In fact, you can't clean a single dish or do an ounce of housework during the day because you are simply not there, and you have to try to get all the housework done AND make food before/after work and on the weekends :)

May 14, 2010 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Cara @ Health Home and Happiness said...

Good point! I retain my right to do laundry during the day (lol) since I would hope that families with two working parents would have more equal division of household chores than what happens in our house! I usually clean on Saturdays anyway, so that's not a big deal.

I was going to have a 'no dishes or kitchen chores' during the work day, though :)

May 14, 2010 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Hollie Ann said...

This is an inspiring post and it comes at such a good time for me! I'm a single, working (outside the home) mother and we are just recently attempting to switch over to whole foods. It gets so overwhelming at times for me! So hearing that other people in my situation are doing this successfully is definitely an encouragement! Thanks :)

May 14, 2010 at 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Alison @ Hospitality Haven said...

Very cool! I look forward to this. :)

May 14, 2010 at 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Tara Christiane said...

This is a great idea and I'm excited to follow along and see how it goes for you. I homeschool and run my own business so time is a premium. I read a housekeeping tutorial the other day that suggested spending 3 hours per day doing chores and home maintenance (the woman's house was beautiful) and left the post feeling totally overwhelmed. Where in the heck was I ever going to find that kind of time? Was I doomed to a messy house? ;-)
I think simple and manageable is the way to go with most everything.

May 14, 2010 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger angela jiniel said...

I agree with CinnamonAndSass, to make it real, you can't do anything constructive for those 9 hours! A few tips for you: I usually do my grocery shopping on my lunch break, make breakfast, pack lunches and sometimes even put dinner in the crockpot in the morning before work. Meal planning is almost a necessity. It's really important to remember to do things like soak beans and such, and staying organized is the key. But I also like to keep some things in the freezer. It's always nice to be able to warm up some chili or throw a soup together if I've had a really long day and don't feel like cooking what I've got planned.

I don't have little ones yet, so it's a little easier for me, but I also try to freelance from home. And I wouldn't necessarily assume that a household with two working parents would have the chores split more evenly, they certainly aren't in my household. My husband has a pretty physically demanding job and can't exactly be relied on to do much around the house during the week. Occasionally he'll do the dishes or mow the lawn, but it can't be depended on. Though I did come home one day this week and he had done the dishes (we don't have a dishwasher), vacuumed, done a load of his work clothes, straightened the living room AND cleaned the bathroom, even the toilet. I was actually a little worried :) Good luck!

May 14, 2010 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger .:a:. said...

What a GREAT experiment! I can't wait to read about it!!!

May 14, 2010 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Cara @ Health Home and Happiness said...

Tara, I hope we don't have to spend 3 hours a day doing chores! I have a friend who keeps a really tidy clean house, and she spends an hour in the morning doing everything. She's also a minimalist (I'm trying to be) and that seems to help a LOT.

Angela, I forgot about lunch breaks! I suppose it depends on how long your lunch is, and how close stores are. Lots of variables for different people, aren't there?

May 14, 2010 at 2:53 PM  
OpenID gracefultable said...

My husband and I work full time and we eat about 80% traditional foods. We eat a low-grain diet which helps a LOT when time is limited to do prep for foods (when you focus on veggies & meats, there is a lot less prep/planning). Its just the 2 of us so I don't have to worry to much about keeping the cost per meal extremely low, although I do try to keep our eating as frugal as possible while still nutriet dense. Meal planning, leftovers, the freezer and salads are my best friend. My biggest challenge - dishes! My sink is almost never empty and I get tired of constantly cleaning and washing dishes. Overall, I would say the additional time spent doing dishes is the only difference between the way we eat and people who eat takeout (even delivery, you normally have to wait, etc etc). When we have people over for dinner, they are amazed that I can put a meal of fresh amazing food on the table in 20-30 minutes tops. Planning & Practice!

May 17, 2010 at 7:35 AM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

Thank you sooo much for addressing the time crunch for people who work. I'm in love with your blog and a couple others like it, but sometimes I use "I don't have time" excuse. I'd like to second the mention of focusing on finding real food sources. It is easy to put off a grocery store trip, but less so if you're picking up from a CSA or co-op. I have a long commute so I sought out pick-up locations along my route and it has made an enormous difference. I even look forward to the drive on days when I'm picking things up.

As for the equal division of labor...I've noticed that men with stay-at-home moms were less likely to see their dads do chores or to have to help out significantly themselves. My friends and I all work but labor seems more equal for those whose husbands had moms who worked. My husband had never scrubbed a toilet until he married me, poor thing. He now has a much fuller appreciation for how much his mom did.

May 22, 2010 at 1:07 AM  
Blogger stacey said...

Although I only work part-time, there is never enough time (especially with a busy little one) to get it all done. not that it ever all gets done! that can go for meals too. i try to do some sort of meal plan/grocery trip each week. i almost always make meals that will account for leftovers during the week. roast becomes bbq beef, taco night becomes bean burritos, etc.

May 23, 2010 at 3:09 PM  

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