Organization will only take you so far when you have a ticking time bomb at your side, or as some of you might know them as "a toddler". This morning, the weekly menu was planned, shopping list set, meal prep plan created and I was ready to get it all done in under 2.5 hours. HA! Then my time bomb exploded.
Grocery shopping is always faster alone. However, my daughter loves to grocery shop and my husband wanted to help. It was fun and I have to remind myself of that, but it still took 30 minutes longer than planned.
Cooking time. So heres the deal. I work full-time doing a job that has nothing to do with cooking. Our priority is to spend as much time with our daughter as possible. Not unusual, right? Its all about planning and priorities. This means that all the menus, recipes and photos happen in-between everything else we've got going on in our lives. Much like most parents, especially those with young children, getting the cooking done and serving healthy meals is a challenge. But, I'm committed.
Here is our menu for the week followed by a brief outline of my cooking process.
Honey Lavender Chia Pudding
Poppy Seed Leek Scones
Sunday Roast with Yorkshire Pudding, Fingerling Potatoes and Marmalade Roasted Carrots
Broiled Salmon with Roasted Asparagus & Sweet Potato
Moroccan Beef Stew
Honey Lavender Macaroons
First, the salmon dinner takes 25 minutes to cook, so that one I immediate put in the fridge and don't have to think about until Monday night. Last night I tossed a cup of raw almonds in some water to soak overnight; this is for the chia pudding and macaroons; though you can also purchase the ingredients, so don't stress.
From the soaked almonds, I made almond milk, then proceeded to mix the other ingredients for the Lavender Chia Pudding. Since this just needs to sit and be stirred every 5 minutes for about 30, its easy to start and then leave. From there, I used the almond meat in the macaroons. As those were baking, I started the clean bake omelette on the stove in an oven safe pan. Once the macaroons came out, I turned up the heat and in went the omelette. Macaroons start cooling, I fill my 4 mason jars with chia pudding and they go in the fridge. Done.
Turning back to the stove, Omelette comes out and is packaged in four separate servings. Done. Then I get the base of the Moroccan Beef Stew on the stove.
Here is one of my secrets: Since I'm serving Sunday Roast, I purchased enough for the roast and the stew. I'll cook it all at once, serve dinner, then dice the rest of the meat up and toss it into my stew base. Genius! (if I do say so myself)
Moroccan Stew is reducing a bit, I saute the leeks, then set them aside to cool completely. Stew is done, packaged into a large container and put in the fridge. Macaroons get a quick honey glaze and done. Water goes on to boil to blanch veggies for Nicoise salad. I prep the roast with potatoes and onions then set aside.
Oh Shit... Hysterical screams from above and soon in my face. The ticking time bomb did not have good naps and is now hysterical and in my kitchen. WTF. Husband has no idea, I have no idea and she is inconsolable. Quickly get the blanched veg into an ice bath while husband holds screaming kid and parents suddenly walk in the back door. My mother announces, "I might have phenomena." Followed by husband saying, "go home." I turn around and continue to cook.
Crank up the oven, thankfully the roast is prepped and ready to go. BEEP! Oven ready, roast in, kid still hysterical. Books, snacks, favorite chair, cuddles, even the iPad is rejected.
I cave. "Honey, how about an ice cream sandwich?" Silence. Acceptance. Holy shit its quiet in here. From there the iPad is ungraciously accepted and we can all sit down and relax for an hour or so while the second to last part of meal prep Sunday cooks.
Just before the meat comes out, I make the Yorkshire pudding batter (not Clean) and glaze the carrots. Meat out, puddings and carrots in. I make the unmistakable sin of cooking pudding and carrots at the same time, but this is not about serving one meal, but rather getting the whole family clean delicious meals and sometimes that means going outside the box.
Just before sitting down, the Poppy Seed Leek Scones go into the oven. While my time table was thrown off by my toddler, aka time bomb, I was still able to get everything done. After dinner, the meat goes into the stew base, the scones are put away and Stella's school lunch is packed up along with extra for the week. Someone else cleans the kitchen, I've done my part.
All in all, it was about 3 hours of cooking some of which was extended by the screaming toddler. Not too bad, this is my new normal. You might be wondering what this gets me. Well, lunches are grab-and-go, breakfasts are ready to eat and dinner requires 25 minutes or less in the kitchen Monday through Friday. It's not easy, but its not hard either, just a little planning and determination to feed my people clean food. This post is a bit tongue and cheek, but at its heart is a process I want to share with you to help make clean healthy meals a reality in your home without spending an hour or more every night in the kitchen.
Long post. Thank you for reading. I'd love to read some tips and tricks that you might have in the kitchen. Or, if you have questions, I'd love to read and respond.
Have a happy healthy week!
BTW: All this could not have happened with a glass of rose at my side.