(this beautiful cauliflower salad was made by my friend Rachel who owns Feast Catering in Sorrento)
I'm not going to lie, cooking from scratch takes time. Yes there are short cuts you can take but there is a bit more to it than that. Here are some tips to help you fall in love with your time in the kitchen.
1. Change your mind
My nan always says 'attitude is everything' and she's right. Nan is a woman who pretty much single handedly raised four children and stayed up all night sewing to feed them. Lucky for them, processed food wasn't even invented in those days, cooking from scratch was the norm along with growing veggies in the backyard.
I hear you, it isn't the 1950's times have changed, women are in the workforce, life is busy but still we do have a choice about our attitude to cooking and nourishing ourselves and our family.
Switch off the moaning, groaning part of your brain and switch on the loving, creative side. Cooking is an act of love and creativity. Try it tonight. No matter how tired you are, no matter how much you are dreading your kids scrunching up their faces telling you they don't like carrots (when carrots were their favorite yesterday), cook with love and happiness.
**in the spirit of keeping things real and not sounding all Mary Poppins about it I have my 'I really can't be bothered cooking' days too! But by the next meal I have changed my mind and have my enthusiasm back.
2. Clean up your cupboards & pantry
Cooking in chaos is never fun. Spending precious time looking for that spice you know is in the back of the cupboard somewhere only to find it was meant to be used by 2010 is annoying.
Set aside an afternoon and go through your cupboards and pantry. Be ruthless! Say goodbye to those containers without lids, get rid of those appliances/gadgets you haven't used in years and are taking up valuable bench space. If there are items that could do with replacing or fixing get it done.
Make a list of your regular ingredients and make sure your pantry is well stocked, that way you will have a list to work from and know you will always have those ingredients on hand. Running to the shops costs time and usually more money because most shoppers go in to buy one thing and come out with ten.
3. Turn on some tunes
The power of music to lift your spirits can't be denied. Just take a look at Mamacino in her kitchen.
4. Meal plan
Deciding what to cook is generally harder than the actual cooking. If you have at least a rough idea of what you will cook for the week you can save brain power and just get on with the cooking. Ask your family for ideas, get them involved in the meal planning and hopefully that will mean they are more likely to happily eat it! Don't just plan dinners either, plan school lunches and after school snacks while you're at it.
5. Batch cook
One of the best ways to save time in the kitchen is to cook once and eat twice. The Mamabakers are the queens of this, have you heard about Mamabake? You can read more about them here, but in a nutshell they are groups of mamas who get together and cook up big batches of family meals then divide them up so you can stock your freezer with home made meals and give yourself some nights off cooking. Even if you don't cook in a group, you can do this on your own and spend an afternoon making a soup, spaghetti bolognaise sauce, casserole, banana bread, whatever you can freeze and you will have home made food at the ready for those times when you really, really can't muster any cooking love.
6. Cook in company
Following on from the Mamabake theme, cooking with others can be much more fun than cooking on your own. Get your family involved. I know with younger children this can take longer and be messier but they have to learn and think of it this way, if you start teaching them from a very young age by the age of 10 you should be able to allocate them a night to cook dinner, giving you the night off!