Some people ask me how I can cook and bake so much while taking care of two young boys (almost-4 and just-turned-1). Truth is, I have to pick how I spend my time. Cooking and baking is something I absolutely love to do. So I find a way to make it work without neglecting my boys. The results? My house isn’t near as clean and organized as others’! But that’s ok (right?) because at least we have good food to eat.
It’s important to me to feed my family well. We eat whole grains (brown rice, wheat/spelt flours, wheat pasta), minimize sugar, and from-scratch (staying away from processed foods). Not only is it important to me, but I like the challenge of making things from scratch! I feel a strange sort of exhilaration when I’ve replicated something from the store. Wahoo, I no longer need to buy condensed cream of mushroom soup! I no longer need to buy tortillas! Taco seasoning! Salad dressing! Chicken broth! Etc. I love doing that!
If you’re like me though, you don’t have time to do it all. I can’t do it all. I can do a lot, yes. How? By making large batches of things, freezing it for later uses. By keeping my meals simple, and my recipe with basic ingredients.
But I still can’t do it all. Before I had kids, I worked full-time. We ate homemade bread (thanks to a breadmaker), but my pantry did have lots of canned goods, and my freezer even had some frozen pizzas (gasp!).
Then I had a child, and became a stay-at-home Mom. All of the sudden I had time for so much more! That is, between nursing him, feeding him, changing diapers, etc. He only ever took 15-25 minute naps, and I nursed him to go to sleep, so a lot of my day was spent sitting, nursing him to sleep! And even sitting, holding him while he slept so he would sleep a bit longer. Still, I had so much more time than when I worked full time. I started making my bread by hand, baked in the oven. I just really prefer it that way (although that breadmachine we had was awesome while I worked full-time outside the home). I started experimenting with lots of things made from scratch.
As child #1 got older and more independent, I started my baking business, and did so many things from scratch. I loved it! Love to experiment! Homemade deodorant, homemade laundry detergent, homemade dishwasher soap, homemade tomato soup, etc. New recipes almost every day = pure love for me!
Then I got pregnant with child #2. The first 3.5mths were a write-off as I was so nauseous things had to be kept to a minimum. Once he was born, life got busier with 2 littles! I no longer had time to make everything I was making from scratch. But feeding my family good wholesome food is important to me.
I had to make a choice. I couldn’t do it all, what was I going to pick out of the list?
Some of the things that went out the window were homemade laundry detergent (I now look for good sales, and use 1/3 the suggested amount, so one box lasts me a long time!), homemade deodorant (never found a recipe I truly loved anyways), homemade dishwasher soap (so cheap to buy, not worth my time to make), tomato soup, etc.
I simplified my menus so that I use ingredients I have on hand, that are already basic and simple. I seldom make recipes that call for a can of condensed cream soup since I don’t buy it, and I don’t want to take the time (or don’t have the time) to make it. I also make bigger batches to last longer. It only takes an extra minute to mix up a huge batch of homemade taco seasoning, but it lasts a long time! Instead of always having fresh bread, I make several loaves at once so I don’t have to make more too soon. I make a big batch of spaghetti sauce and freeze it for quick meals, etc.
So yes, you can’t do it all. Pick what is most important to you, and find ways of making it work! I imagine, as I have more children, that my menus will change with each one. As my oldest gets older and can start to help, that will also affect my menus. But for now, I keep it simple, this way I can feed my family foods that I want them to eat.
A few basic menu ideas are: spaghetti, breakfast dinner, crustless quiche, pizza, basic meat/potatoes/salad, crockpot stew, layered enchilada, soups, and lasagna. There are lots more recipes, of course, but that’s a few! I keep a list of meals on my fridge so I can glance at it and get ideas quickly.
(That list is kept on the fridge by the stove, as you can tell by all the splashes!
How do you make time to cook and bake, with a busy schedule and/or little ones around?