Monthly Archives: May 2017

Simple Meals Action Plan- For the Sick and Tired (or super busy !)

Image:Pexals

 Look at the tips below and keep them in mind for when you are are sick, tired or in a rush. The chronically ill, tired or rushed may decide to take on these tips full-time. Though some of the following are not exactly eco-friendly, you may decide that it is better to ‘bend the rules’ than succumb to fast food and that the convenience is worth the stress reducing benefits.
Consider writing down any tips, lists and recipes on a Simple Meals Action Plan chart. Keep this somewhere easy to locate, like inside the pantry door. If you are lucky enough to have ‘helpers’ they can find and use the chart too.
Plan ahead for the times when getting a meal on the table will be a challenge by making double quantities of dishes that freeze well. Label and store the extra portion in the freezer for up to 3 months. Check out books and websites and Pinterest for recipes that deal with freezer cooking or ‘Once a Month’ or batch cooking.
Make a list of meals that can be cooked in only one or two pans, or in the crockpot. Try some new recipes for one-pot or crockpot cooking and add these to your repertoire. Aim to have all your recipes in one easy to find location.
Meals made in the oven or rice cooker require less standing and ‘slaving over a hot stove’. Search for recipes that bake rather than panfry, e.g. lamb chops can be baked on a rack in a disposable baking pan. Many rice cookers can make dishes such as paella, pilaf, risotto and more, look in the instruction booklet or on the internet for ideas.
Use disposable baking dishes,pie plates etc. Line baking trays or sheets with foil or baking paper to make cleaning easier. 
Label leftovers and extras that you don’t want eaten before you have a chance to use them for a meal.
Make double amounts of browned mince or chicken or beans etc for future meals. Put the extra servings in a labelled,airtight container for up to three days.
When chopping vegetables chop enough for two nights. Store the next nights’ veggies in the fridge in an airtight container lined with a paper towel and they will stay fresh.
Boil extra potatoes. Mash half for next night or the night after and either reheat them or use in a dish such as cottage pie, fish cakes, croquettes etc.
Have a kettle of boiling water ready to deglaze and clean saucepans and frypans to eliminate the need for soaking and scrubbing. 
Fill the sink with hot, soapy water and wash utensils etc. as you cook or stack them straight into the dishwasher. This will mean having an empty sink and making room in your dishwasher BEFORE you start cooking.
Try the method that chefs use called Mise en Place ( pronounced miz on plas) which means to having everything set out. Gather, prep, measure and chop before you start cooking.
Make extra at dinner time for lunch. Pack lunches while you prep for cooking or as you are cutting up veg or fruit for that meal and before you automatically put the leftovers away.
For a super easy meal look in the fridge at leftovers and see if they can be made into a meal or have a cold dinner of salad, cheese, any smallgoods or deli items you might have. Try ‘breakfast for dinner’ it’s usually quick to cook when you want a fast dinner.
Have some ready-to-cook meals like pasta and sauces available or frozen meals or frozen chicken tenders or the like in the freezer to ‘help out’.
Some specialty food shops have ready to heat meals that are quite healthy and can help you out, look especially at stores selling ethnic food, at bakeries and fruit markets for Italian,Greek and other ready to heat meals.Check out the healthier options for take away either at a fast food chain or a local cafe or resturant, even if you buy the cooked chicken or ready to heat pastizzi for example and add some rice and salad at home, for example, you can save some of your energy.
Hopefully the above tips will help you get a meal on the table with less effort and stress but don’t feel at all bad about buying take away or a bar-b-que chicken or even serving sandwiches when you need to. Guilt stemming from not serving the family a Masterchef style meal every night is just not going to help anyone. Your family would rather you be happy and calm and feeling well.
Feel free to comment and share your tips in the comment section. Don’t forget to subscribe for updates and share this blog with other mums who want a simple life!

 

Simple Breakfast Ideas to get you out the door

Image:Pexals

If you or your family have a ‘go to’ breakfast like cereal or toast with an egg for example,that is great but some people have problems eating breakfast due to reasons, such as those below, that can be remedied.
* Being too rushed- planning breakfast, establishing a morning routine and simplifying can help you have the time to sit down and enjoy your breakfast-even if you have kids!
* You or your child has no appetite in the morning or has food allergies or preferences that may take time or require special ingredients- thinking outside the ‘cereal box’ will help. Typical breakfast food are NOT the only thing that need be on the menu.
* Your family wants a hot breakfast or craves variety- a little planning and pre-preparation will allow you to serve a pleasing breakfast.
* When you think about the cooking and clean up cereal or toast is just easier- True, a quick and easy breakfast is a great idea, but there are options if you are willing to plan ahead.

Any of the following ideas are worth considering if you want to simplify breakfast or enjoy a more substantial breakfast without stress or taking too much time.
* Write a list of possible meal ideas that you and your family enjoy or would like to have. Refer back to this list when preparing the grocery list. When you read the hints below, add any new ideas to this list. Check out the Internet, especially Pinterest, for appetising inspiration. Look up ‘mug cooking’ ‘breakfast bowls’ ‘overnight oats’ for example and prepare to expand your culinary horizons.
*Keep your staples on hand ALWAYS .For example,have bread in the freezer and plenty of milk and allergy free alternatives (if required). If you don’t write a shopping list START NOW or do you like going to Woolies for soy milk in your slippers? 
* Set the scene the night before , maybe after the dinner clean up, by laying out placemats, crockery, cutlery etc. A child can do this – and probably should before they get anymore screen time! Think about what pots and utensils you will need and have them ready on a shelf or corner of the counter.
*If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher empty it at night so it’s ready for the breakfast run. If you’ve got dishpan hands like me fill the sink as you fill the kettle and wash as you go. Aim to clean up so you’re next meal isn’t sabotaged by crusty bowls and grungy pans.
* Prepare any ingredients you can ahead of time. When you are preparing ingredients for another meal STOP AND THINK if you can also prepare something else now for another meal. Say you are chopping veggies for dinner, spend a couple of minutes chopping some more for an omelette or similar. Store them extra in a ziplock bag or airtight container and it will be available for the next few days.
* Pre- measure dry ingredients for your own ‘make-ahead’ mixes. If your are making or planning to make muffins, scones, piklets etc measure a few extra batches of the dry ingredients and store these in labelled plastic containers or ziplock bags in the pantry. On the inside of the pantry door have a copy of each recipe with the ingredient list divided into dry and wet categories and also include the method and oven temperature. When you want to make the item the recipe is within easy reach. You will already have the dry ingredients measured and sifted and need to simply add the wet ingredients, mix and cook. Pikelets on a Tuesday should no longer be too much of a problem.
*Leftovers for breakfast-why not? Look at other cultures, breakfast is more varied that we often think. You’ll find variations such as rice dishes, cold platters of meats and fruit and veg, and hot meals that will keep you going until lunch. I’m not suggesting cold pizza out of the box but why not leftover fried rice or savoury mince or spaghetti bolognaise (growing boys love it!) Use leftover roast veggies to make a frittata or have on toast.
*Cook the breakfast ahead and heat it up as required. As my boys need it, I make extra or cook more food alongside the evening meal for lunch boxes or reheating for breakfast. I often do this all during the day to ease the dinner time workload. Some extra chicken breasts or browned mince or burger patties do not go astray when the ‘little ones’ are becoming ‘big ones’! One caveat, label or hide anything you want to serve for a specific meal because the fridge may get raided by growth spurting bandits.
*Don’t judge the minimalist. Some kids and grown ups never deviate from their ‘same ole’- let em be. Overall variety during a week of meals matters more than switching up breakfast everyday. If junior is a vegemite on toast enthusiast ensure that the variety is introduced at other mealtimes and snack times-peacefully too I might add. Don’t fret- a stressful eating environment causes more lifelong challenges than a more ‘relaxed’ attitude.

I have come to the point when I can eat the same thing day in and day out for most of the time. It’s a health and simplicity decision for me. My son is currently needing more variety and volume so I can provide that using the tips above-it’s no trouble and I know it’s getting him through the school morning /soccer game.
Share you’re tips and problems and support in the comments. Let me know what you’d like to read about. Subscribe for updates sent straight to you inbox.

­čîčSimple Life Mum

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