As a mother of two under five who works full time outside the home (and decided to move during a school year), I’m all about finding ways to make life less hectic and creating shortcuts to accomplish the greater good. In the midst of unpacking and decorating, I began to feel guilty about the lack of time I was spending in the kitchen. And lets admit it folks, after spending your time and money on a minor kitchen renovation—you absolutely feel like it is necessary to spend more time in the kitchen!
In addition to the fact that a home cooked meal is the best way to follow a budget, it is also the best gift you can give your family (good health)! I preach alkaline body and green smoothie—but when life gets hectic, I have to prioritize and sometimes the family dinner gets the short end of the stick. So along with a good buddy of mine—we have started doing Speed Cooking Playdates. I’m sure there are versions of this all over the world, but I am going to go ahead and coin the term now—remember you heard it here first!
First, think about your friends who have kids close to the age of your own. This was an easy fit for me because Vanessa (my Trinidadian buddy) because our daughters are six months apart— and my 5 year old son quickly assigned himself as the “overseer of toddler activities” so he was out of our way, as well. With the younger ones, you have to be prepared for the occasional “I just need attention break”. Both Vanessa and I had our fair share of these the other night—but for the most part, we were at work speed cooking.
I call it speed cooking because you literally, get no breaks. Anyone who cooks regularly knows that there are always times during cooking when you are waiting on something to be done—this is essentially a break. Well, with speedcooking just forget about any of those breaks. You are allotted a break or two for the toddlers (the occasional hug, accompany child away from the kitchen back to family room walk, the occasional sip of liquid (some choose wine here, it’s your chose just be prepared for whatever happens next). But it’s called speedcooking because it is truly continuous—no breaks, there is always something that needs to be done. Even when coming down to the end when there’s nothing to cook—but plenty of pots and pans to clean, containers to stuff.
Oh did I mention you are going to freeze a good portion of this? Yes, you probably want to only leave out a day or two of food. The rest you place in containers—I would say divide them into portions of one-two days’ worth of food for your family. Leftovers are always good, but folks get bored with the same dish everyday so this option allows you to keep things “fresh” in more ways than one! And don’t worry, you don’t need to buy Tupperware, I found that I had more than enough needed for this playdate. So there, I accomplished my goal—fresh home cooked meals and a playdate for the little one!
Here’s the breakdown:
What you’ll need:
(1) Plenty of food to cook – this includes lots of fresh prep food that allows you to hold back on the salt. We used tons of these ingredients in each meal during prep: cilantro, parsley, garlic, ginger, thyme
(2) Kids and toys (dvds, pots, pans, anything!) – they tend to occupy themselves
(3) Good spirits (that could include a little wine or beer (great for bbq recipes) on hand too)
What you’ll get (Results):
(1) Lots of good, fresh, home cooked meals. Last night we made stew chicken, bbq chicken jerk chicken, rice & peas, quinoa & dried cranberries, spaghetti (delicious meatsauce!!)
(2) a happy husband (gets to watch sports all evening with little interruptions), wiped out kids, 1-2 weeks worth of all kinds of food