Next to saving money on wholefood the other precious resource we all want to save or manage better is time. Just as we learnt in the budgeting series making small changes can add up to big savings, the same goes with time.
Before we start watching the clock I think one of the main things underpinning this topic is attitude.
I have said before that wholefood eating is a way of life, it is not just about the cooking. I am a big believer in food as medicine and because of this I don't resent the time I spend buying, storing, preparing and eating wholefoods. And I think there is a lot of truth in the adage that "if you don't make time to eat real food, you better make time to get sick". I agree that cooking food from scratch takes longer than putting a packet in a microwave but there is no comparison in taste and benefits for your body, mind and soul or the health of the planet.
To get started here are some ideas that came back from a little shout out on The Wholefood Mama facebook page:
Natalie and Sonia recommend bulk cooking and freezing.
Sonia adds, "I know it's not in everyone's budget, but the thermomix has really helped me in this regard, it makes cooking from scratch super easy and quick. It's been the best investment in our family's health".
Vanessa is a fan of bulk cooking too she says "Leftovers save me and my sanity. I have no problem with my children eating the same nutritious meal two nights in a row - as long as they love it of course. I make enough for my husband lunchbox too. I certainly feel robbed if I make a meal that has no mileage in it!"
Chaska says, "We started a family schedule, quite like Milly, Molly and Mandy...washing day, breadmaking day, shopping day. I fit cooking meals into the schedule for instance I cook a more labour intensive meal on house cleaning day because I am around to look after it. The schedule has made a difference. I stopped trying to clean the house everyday because I knew house cleaning day would come. The children take part in the 'chores' and that helps them to know how to tidy up and now they are older they have their own chore list. Making many meals at once saves time, I start a soup or curry before breakfast, then after breakfast I make morning tea and a lunch box, I leave the kitchen clean after that and usually just stack lunch dishes returning before dinner to quickly do the dishes and prepare dinner. I often make soups, muffins or cookies at night before I have cleaned the kitchen". I like Chaska's approach of doing a lot of cooking at once then only having to do one big wash up of dishes.
Leesa says, "You can't beat a slow cooker for the working mum and not just soup and casseroles, try roast meats, cornbeef and curries".
Now, my top 6 time savers are:
Organise your kitchen. Spend a morning or afternoon going through your cupboards sorting out your equipment, utensils, ingredients etc; label jars with ingredients, throw out things that don't work or are broken, say goodbye to containers and jars with no lids, make a list of items you have been meaning to buy to make your time in the kitchen easier or more enjoyable (and I don't mean a thermomix! I am not anti-thermomix but you don't need a lot of gadgets or gizmos I am talking about basics that keep the flow and function of your kitchen smooth). Being able to find things easily and having equipment that works will save you time.
Meal planning. Spending a little time at the start of each week or month planning out your meals really does save you time and money in the long run. By having a plan to follow you will not wander aimlessly trying to decide what to buy to cook for dinner and saves your sanity each day by knowing what you are going to cook. If you feel completely overwhelmed and haven't a clue where to start planning a menu go here, here and here for some great inspiration.
Bulk cooking, eating leftovers and/or freezing (also saves gas and electricity) If you are turning the gas or electricity on to cook one meal you might as well cook enough for two or three! I don't do the freezing option but that is only because working from affords me the luxury of cooking during the day. If I had a job to go to I think I would definitely have a few meals in the freezer ready to go, it not only saves cooking time but I imagine it saves time on the washing up too as you will probably only use one pot to heat whatever it is you have thawed out or perhaps too if you are cooking pasta or rice or steaming veggies to go with the main dish. While I don't cook enough to freeze I always cook enough so there are leftovers for lunch or enough to reinvent a new dish based on the previous nights dinner. The heroes of big batch cooking are the Mamabake ladies check them out!
Cooking skills Brush up on whatever you don't feel comfortable with, lacking confidence in your ability slows you down and makes things a chore. Don't despair it is an opportunity. Perhaps you could do with learning some knife skills or would like to be more efficient at making pastry or need to stick up a chart about soaking grains on your fridge until you can remember what's what. Take a class, read some books, scour the internet and watch some how to videos. Knowledge is power!
Delegate Newsflash you don't have to do it all yourself! Involve your family. Depending on the ages of your children get little ones involved in putting away groceries, preparing the food, setting the table, washing up and then as they get older assign them a night each week to cook dinner. My sister-in-law awesome mama of four started a system once her children were tall enough where she filled the sink with warm soapy water before dinner and as each person finished their dinner they washed and dried their own plate and cutlery. Every little bit of assistance saves you time and including our children in the running of the home is essential in teaching them that they have an important role to play in family life, that they are contributing and not just receiving.
Shop online This isn't something I do but I know plenty of others who do and it makes sense that once you put the time in to find your suppliers placing your order online means your food is delivered to your door saving you time going out to shop for it. If you do shop online recommend the places you shop in the comments.
Oh and when it all gets too much and witching hour is upon you and everyone is hungry and you are er running late with dinner I have a secret weapon. The Dixie Chicks. Play it loud. There now you know.
Now it's over to you...how do you manage time in the kitchen? and what is on your witching hour playlist?