We know being a mum is basically a full-time job. It’s usually on mums to make sure that family has a home-cooked meal every day of the week, all the while working your office job. There should be some kind of award for that! Nonetheless, even though you may have superpowers, everyone deserves a bit of help. That is why we have come up with helpful cooking tips that will hopefully make your life a bit easier, and a bit less hectic.
One of the best time-saving pieces of advice we can offer you is to be as organised at home as you are at work. Plan out your tomorrow’s meal in advance, preferably while you are cooking today’s dinner. That way you can do some prep work in advance, like chop vegetables you will need for tomorrow and/or the day after, or take out meat from the freezer to defrost.
Buy a Slow Cooker
A slow cooker or a Croc Pot is basically your best friend. You can take your kids to football practice and have a hearty stew waiting for you when you come back. You can even put all the ingredients in late at night and have lunch prepared by morning. The good thing about slow cookers is that you can make bigger batches of your favourite soups and stews, so you can freeze the leftovers or have two days’ worth of food.
And do not think that stews are the only thing you can cook with these handy gadgets, since there are plenty of creative recipes you can make – from pulled pork, large cuts of meat and pot roasts, to pasta, chilli, dips and even desserts! Just prep all the ingredients and put them in the pot, and forget about them for the next couple of hours.
Order take-out and have a break
One thing is certain – we all need a break. Planning and cooking meals should not be a source of stress or a burden. If you feel like you are overwhelmed by chores, it is O.K. to order take-out. There are companies that deliver from your favourite restaurant right to your doorstep. You can have gourmet chef prepared food without stepping a foot outside your house. On the other hand, it is always fun to have a family restaurant night once or twice a month.
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Cook bigger batches and freeze them
While you are cooking, why not double your ingredients and make more batches you can freeze. This will save you plenty of time, since you are cooking two- or three-days’ worth of food at once. Simply chop up more ingredients and divide the cooked dish into Tupperware, seal and freeze. The food will stay fresh for two months, and it will come in handy on a particularly busy day. Just defrost in the microwave and dig in.
Keep a clean cooking surface
Do not make your life more difficult by letting the sink fill up with dirty dishes. It will take a bit of focus, but staying organised will make cooking less stressful. Always keep a clean working surface, and wash every dish as you go. While you are waiting for the onions to caramelise, wash your chopping knife, that way you will not use another, but reuse that knife. It is much easier if you own a dishwasher, just neatly stack the dishes you have used. But if you do not, it is always better to use as little utensils as possible, and wash those you have used.
Ask your family to help
Do not forget that everyone should participate in housework. So put your kids to work. Getting your kids involved will make them more excited for dinner, even the picky eaters. Older children can help with the washing-up or cutting vegetables. Smaller children can simply keep you company, and you can keep an eye on them while you cook. Of course, you can always ask your partner for help. Let them watch the children or at least help with the cooking - after all, you are a team. Maybe even have them cook a night or two, since you deserve a break from time to time.
Use those leftovers
Never throw out your leftovers. They can be a life-saver. You can reheat them and serve them for lunch the next day, or at least incorporate them in your next meal. Cold mashed potatoes make great gnocchi dough, just add flour and an egg. Leftover ham can be turned into an amazing soup or stew, just add vegetables and stock. Stews can be made into pasta sauce, you can make sandwiches with leftover meat, rice can be added to soups – the options are endless.
Now that you have read our advice, things probably seem less difficult than before. Keep your cooking organised, never throw away leftovers and please, use your freezer. But most importantly – it is alright to ask for help.
Written by Lana Hawkins