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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Traditional Food in Real Lives- Reflections of Working Around the Work Schedule

How does it work to confine meal preparation and cleanup to outside of working hours?  The rest of the posts in this series:



Traditional Food in Real Lives- How can this be done around the work schedule?
Grocery Shopping and Menu Planning
Weekend Meal Prep
Monday
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


Some things I loved! I loved that spending a few minutes at the beginning of the week to plan yielded much more efficiency all week long. I liked having my kitchen clean all day. I liked the forced impulse control- too often I'll start playing in my kitchen, which is fun and tasty but not always the most efficient use of my time. I like having the limits of only pre-designated snacks.

Some things I didn't like so much.  I think if I worked outside the home, I would increase my food budget to include more pre-made foods.  Like my tortillas that weren't great- I might opt to buy those instead (I might do that anyway).  Our local health food store sells lactofermented sauerkraut and pickles, which would be time savers for working families, not that lactofermented veggies take much time, but they're one more thing on the long to-do list.

I didn't make yogurt this week because I had some in the fridge already, but that might be another thing I'd buy pre-made.  Buying Stretch Island Fruit leathers rather than making dried fruit at home are a shortcut I use anyway!  I like drying fruit, especially if I find a great deal on it, but I would want to have some outside play time with the family too.

I also found that I don't want to do much more cooking than a basic dinner and putting together lunch for the next day. I thought I'd make some date nut balls sometime during the week, and it's not that they take long to make...just that I didn't want to wash any more dishes ~wink~

What I've Learned


But overall I've learned that cooking whole traditional foods from scratch doesn't need to be an all day long event.  A short burst of intense prep and planning on the weekend, and organization can make time stretch out much further.  Setting realistic goals, such as having a protein, veggie, fat, and carb at each meal is easier to fulfill than a goal of having a different protein at each meal, 5 servings of different fruit and veggies, and a different meal for each person in the family.

On Variety:
I know that we want to serve a variety of foods to our families, but I think it's just fine to, for example, have eggs for breakfast and then again for dinner- especially since everyone here likes eggs.   And if I know my kids won't eat much of the veggies that are served with a meal (peas in this house), I don't feel the need to fix a separate veggie (or main dish!) for each person for each meal.  Overall they eat a good variety of foods, so I don't feel the need to be  a short order cook just because I am home; this would be essential to preparing foods around the work schedule as well, or around afternoon activities if your kids do those.

Making chicken salad rather than getting out all the sandwich fixings is another time saver that I already used for hubby's lunches before.  Re-serving dishes like the rice (as in taco salad first, then stir fry the next day) I do too- but it's even more important when you're crunched for time.

Take Aways

I'm glad to know that I have the ability to easily condense my cooking time into a few hours a week.  But I still want to do our bread during the week (soaking on Sunday or Monday, baking on Monday or Tuesday), doing mid-week grocery shopping when the stores are less crowded (though it's a trade off whether I want my husband's help!) and then starting a batch of yogurt or lactofermented veggies after coming home mid-day.    I will continue to do my weekend meal prep, though, and will be having more 'kitchen is closed' days this summer to focus on playing outside and doing other things besides just cooking.

I really enjoyed having a clear clean kitchen all day too- since I wasn't messing it up!  I think having a deadline (the dishes have to be done before 7:30 a.m. or they'll sit all day) is a good motivator for me to actually do them right away and not get distracted thinking that I'll have time to get to them later.

I'm glad to have tried this series. How about you? Have you decided to condense your cooking schedule for this summer?

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Candace said...

Another reason to consider some pre-made food like yogurt, etc. if you work outside the home is that when you get home you are just plain tired. In addition, food prep is just one task to fit into non-working hours; house cleaning, yard maintenance, church involvement, etc. have to be worked into home time as well.

I enjoyed reading your series and seeing your recipes. My husband and I (no kids yet) both work AND value nourishing food, and every bit of inspiration helps.

May 24, 2010 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger TaraChristiane said...

I enjoyed this series and appreciate you taking the time to plan, implement and share it with us. I used to beat myself up about not making more from scratch, especially when I know I can do it, but have recently change that thinking. There are some healthful convenience foods out there and, like all things, it seems as though moderation is the key for a happy and balanced life.

May 24, 2010 at 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it comes down to the realization that real, traditional food makes us feel better. So we actually have more energy and better dispositions. That is worth the time, and you have shown us some good time planning that can make it work. I can't wait to see your recipe for oatmeal cookies with honey that turned out so well. A healthy treat is fun too!

May 24, 2010 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Cara @ Health Home and Happiness said...

Candace- Blogger ate your comment so I'll post it below

~~~
Another reason to consider some pre-made food like yogurt, etc. if you work outside the home is that when you get home you are just plain tired. In addition, food prep is just one task to fit into non-working hours; house cleaning, yard maintenance, church involvement, etc. have to be worked into home time as well.

I enjoyed reading your series and seeing your recipes. My husband and I (no kids yet) both work AND value nourishing food, and every bit of inspiration helps.

~~~
Cara again:
I'm glad you enjoyed this series!

And Tara, you're right. I think a lot of us fall into that trap. Like I can sew, cook most everything from scratch, knit, etc. But I'm learning that it's not always the best use of my time - sometimes the best use of my morning is taking my kids on a long walk and to go play in the dirt! :)

May 24, 2010 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Susanna said...

Cara, I really enjoyed this series! Thanks for letting us into your kitchen for the week. :) My challenge is that our family of 5 has 5 adult-sized appetites. So I make a HUGE salad, and it's GONE in one meal. I try to make big batches of everything, but I'm limited by the size of the pans (which are already large.) Anyway, I like your idea of declaring certain times for the kitchen to be closed, so I'm going to see how I can incorporate that into the schedule/menu. I, too, would really like to spend some more time outside with my kids this summer! We're just now transitioning off of the GAPS diet, so I really have been spending TONS of time chopping veggies. But it's worth it! Thanks for giving me some great things to think about.

May 24, 2010 at 5:51 PM  
Anonymous dkgp said...

Thank you so much for your thoughtful work on this blog. As a SAHM who spends a lot of time running my kids around, but with strong motivation to cook nourishing food, I am often overwhelmed by the dishes and meal prep tasks. It hasn't stopped me, but the more I do myself from scratch, well, it has left my home a bit disheveled! I subscribed just as you were beginning this project, and I have really enjoyed hearing your progress. I am currently working on more meal planning, and now, with your inspiration, I am going to move forward with an eye toward condensed meal prep. Thanks so much!

May 24, 2010 at 7:24 PM  

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