Throughout January and February, we got My Food Bag. We’d been in a rut of cooking only scratch meals in the lead up to the Christmas break (well, tbh, since the little dude was born really). I love cooking, or I used to, when I had time. I love eating good food!
My Food Bag is expensive though, and we can’t do it on one salary. Also, while the vegetarian bag is great, it leans a little heavy on the dairy, and I don’t usually eat much dairy. I used to until I was breastfeeding the little dude and then I had a flash of empathy with the mummy cows and now it seems pretty weird. Except haloumi sometimes. Or parmesan. Yeah I’m not that consistent in my vegetarian impulses. I tell people I “don’t eat fish, except I kinda do but only when I’m pregnant or breastfeeding”, which means that I’ve eaten fish for three years but I don’t want to acknowledge that I eat fish… Not salmon though, because since I found out that salmon feed includes pellets made from byproducts of factory farmed pigs, including dried blood, I’m too grossed out. I’m making myself sound so difficult!
I’m actually not picky so long as it’s vegetarian.
That’s a total lie.
I like good food. If someone serves me a risotto of the wrong texture at a restaurant I’ll feel utterly aggrieved and I’ll remember it for years. A particular pet peeve is when the vegetarian item on the set menu is a bit shite.
I don’t want to be eating and cooking scratch meals for dinner every night for the next several years, so I’m going to try one of those obsessively organised meal planning things.
Here’s the idea:
I will create a multi-week menu that we cycle through. My Food Bag usually had one or two egg recipes each week, one or two dairy, one beans or legumes, and one tofu or tempeh. I’ll do something similar but without the dairy (which also gives the little dude a funny tummy). It’ll just be for weeknights. Weekend evenings we often go to my parents’ place or get takeaways, or if not then Mr Daddy cooks.
The little dude goes to creche on Monday, Tuesday and Friday. We go to the market on Saturday mornings (if nothing else, it opens at 7am and is walking distance, so it’s a good “let’s escape our den of chaos” activity).
On Saturdays, after the market, I’ll pre-prep the vegetables before putting them away. Trim and rinse the silverbeet, put it in a plastic bag ready to throw into something, etc.
On Mondays, I’ll make something during the day that we can eat in the evening. Roast vege salad with sesame tofu, for example. Something that keeps ok in the fridge and doesn’t require re-heating. I’ll make enough for Tuesday lunch too.
On Tuesdays, I’ll cook a double or triple batch of something that can be frozen and reheated. It’ll be Tuesday dinner, Wednesday lunch, and dinner for one night a few weeks hence. Sometimes I might feel enthusiastic on Monday and make Tuesday’s one in advance so I don’t have to cook on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, when the little dude is home with me all day, we’ll have something from the freezer for dinner. While I’m getting the system established, this can be a scratch meal night or takeaways.
Thursdays, during the little dude’s nap, I’ll do prep for something that can then be tossed together quickly in the evening, like chopping up all the veges for a stirfry or making the mixture for fritters so all we need to do at night is apply heat. This could include slow cooker meals.
Fridays, like Tuesdays, I’ll cook a double or triple batch of something – one for Friday night, and one or two for the freezer. This will mean that we have extra freezer stuff which I can use for lunches or on weekends when we can’t be bothered cooking. I also want to get ahead of myself so that if a cooking day goes to custard, we’ll have backup.
On the nights we eat from the freezer, I’ll just need to make a side dish or assemble things. The goal is to make this a 20 minute job, which is about my window for clear time while toddler is watching Peppa Pig and baby is asleep or starting at a mobile.
Hopefully this will also making shopping easier. And once I’ve got it established, we can keep it up next year when I’m back at the office, but move the advance cooking to the evenings after kids are in bed (bub still does that baby thing of being awake from 9ish – 10ish, so there’s currently no scope to do things in the evenings).
I’m going to need three kinds of recipes:
- Food that can be easily frozen and reheated.
- Food that can be kept in the fridge for a day and eaten at room temperature.
- Food that can be thrown together in 20 minutes if pre-prep has been done earlier, including days earlier.
Any recipe that isn’t in that category is dead to me now.