Keeping it simple.

In today's modern world we are drip fed "convenience" everything, as if the non-convenient option is a dreadful time consuming thing.

Take meal times.  Drive thru's all over the place, entire isles in all the shopping centers dedicated to pre-prepared foods, short cuts and "quick and easy" food.

But when did food become so complicated?  Years ago the main meal was in the middle of the day.  I'm sure there were many reasons for this, but I reckon the biggest was possibly that Mum was tired by dinner and couldn't be bothered cooking a big meal, that she knew kids were often not all that not hungry by then, she didn't want a dinner time battle nor a mountain of greasy dishes to hand wash late at night.  As a result she and decided to cut corners and throw something simple of the table.  A sandwich,  eggs, yesterdays toasted bread with dripping/butter, or what ever was on hand.

I might be totally wrong here, but it appeals to me that it was her shortcut, that Mums back then were just as tired as I am by the end of the day and adjusted their routine accordingly.

There are many times in my parenting journey that lunch has been a hot main meal in this place.  Especially if Grant happens to be away or working a stretch of long days in our business.  During these times I'm about parented out by dinner.  I'm ready to throw the boys through the shower, into bed and put my feet up.    

So in celebration of the quick and easy dinner here is what the boys dinner looked like last night.  It took the whole of 8 minutes to get on the plate, there was no cutlery used and minimal dishes created.  This kind of dinner is faster then loading them up into the car to grab "fast food", they are happy to eat it, and its a perfectly healthy meal.  Dessert was home made chocolate custard.

Meal times with kids don't have to be hot, elaborate or have several different components.  Sure its nice to sit down to a good meal.  But it doesn't NEED to be.  That kind of thought process is simply about trying to guilt and con us into buying convenience foods I reckon. 

A few things I like to ensure I have on hand is a bowl of hard boiled eggs in the fridge.  They are quick to do, and a great nourishing protein rich snack.  Also fruit and veggies, risotto rice, cheese and yogurt.  These are some of my pantry staples and usually the base of my "I can't be bothered cooking dinner" dinners.  Avoiding take away and convenience foods is not difficult, it simply takes a little bit of organization.  If I'm honest and think about it critically, it doesn't even take that much organization.   

Don't get me wrong, we fall into the trap of getting take away too.  I'm totally human.  Sometimes we plan it like fish and chips as a treat, but more often then not its due to organization or lack of it on my behalf.

This year we have some pretty serious financial goals in place and paying debit down.  Grant has it mapped out and like most families the biggest variant in our fortnightly budget is food.  If there is an area we are going to blow out I can almost guarantee it is the food budget.  And if there is a cause it is usually organization.  So really, it is simple enough to fix with just a little forward planning.

A few of the things I'm going to focus on to minimize meal time blow outs are:
- Ensuring I have a backup of the essentials in my cupboard.
- Meal plan. (roughly)
- Keep a bowl of hard boiled eggs in the fridge.
- Go grocery shopping BEFORE I have totally run out of food.  (I'm not the only one that does this no?)
- Change the way I think about meals.
- Cook double batches most meals and serve meals myself onto every ones plate.  If I cook a double batch and allow these people to self serve you can guarantee they will eat the entire double batch.  They eat past full, and if they are still hungry fruit is always on hand.

I think when it comes to simple living, the most important thing is to actually keep it simple.  Set just one goal, work towards it, master it, then slowly add another.  Sometimes it feels like I have mastered very few of my simple living goals, sometimes I impress myself!
Cloth napkins from my grandmothers stash.

This blog is not one to tell you how to live simply,  there are enough about who tell you how to do that and are far more inspirational then I ever could ever be.  Its here to document how we do it.  Our slow and ordinary progress.  Including our failures, our "try agains" as well as our successes.

Sometimes I fall back into old bad habits.  But that's OK.  I don't count it as failure, I think failure only exists when you give in.  Its OK to put something on a shelf and say "I'll try again later."  I think the biggest thing from stopping us achieving a new goal is the story we are telling ourselves.  That its "too hard", "too complicated", "I don't know how", "too time consuming".  But the reality is many of these stories are simply that.  Just stories in our minds stopping us from exploring our potential.  When we don't achieve something we get the opportunity to look back upon it.  Too explore why it didn't go like we hoped.  Self reflection is a great skill to have.  As long as it does not fall into the damaging territory of poor self talk.  For me when it comes to meal times its nearly always organization, so this is on my radar. 

Do you have any tips to share with other readers here, whats on your radar to reflect upon?

Much love,
Emma
xx



 

15 comments

  1. Eggs - such a wonderful food source and a pure source of protein for very little effort.

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  2. This is all so true. Meals are one of the hardest things in my day. What we'll have, when I'll buy the supplies, what time, hot or cold - ugh, it makes me mad sometimes.
    Thankfully my husband is a great cook and does the evening meal at least twice a week but I think we've set ourselves up for failure in that we have always tried to do a big, nice evening meal and now that is what is expected.
    It's surprising sometimes how simple a meal can be and everyone enjoys it. It's also surprising how much less food we can get by on than we think we need.

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    1. Oh your lucky to have a husband who enjoys cooking. Grants happy to pop a meal togeather but he leans towards very simple things. Which is fine. but a lovely meal cooked by someone else would be a treat! :)

      xx

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  3. Having recently gone back to work after 8 years as a stay-at-home mum, I have adopted the Sunday cook up to keep me on track. I spend most of the day cooking, but by mid-afternoon I have chicken stock made, meat marinated for up-coming dinners, school lunch box snacks baked, a chicken roasted for cold meat which can go on sandwiches and wraps, veggies diced for future meals, eggs boiled and a batch of baked beans or savoury mince cooked for breakfasts for the week. It's a big day in the kitchen but gives me great satisfaction of knowing my family will eat healthy, homemade meals for the week. Not having guilt over what I am feeding my family is a huge incentive to make the effort each Sunday.

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    1. Wow, sounds like your doing an amazing job of being organized in your kitchen! Well done!

      I have days where I do really well and others not so, my trouble in consistency. But Im working on being more consistant with what I have on hand. :) Your right it is a great feeling feeding your family good food.

      xx

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  4. When my children were babies and had colic for a few weeks I got into the habit of cooking dinner in the morning as it was hopefully to even try to do that from 4pm in the afternoon when they were screaming. That changed as they got older but now that I myself am in my sixties I am thinking that I might get back into the habit as there is less washing up etc. in the evening then.

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    1. Yes I too did dinner in the morning for a long time. Actually it was when i was MOST on track with our eating routines and when I did the MOST cooking from scratch I have ever done. Its certainly something to think about. Perhaos a habbit to get back into. Especially as the weather cools down and casseroles and hot food are on the menu. :)

      xx

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  5. I love how you talk about setting goals, trying, putting aside and trying again. In this simplification many of us are trying to achieve, goal setting really is a means of looking at achievements. Now goal setting is a personal adventure that works(or not) for us and us alone. As an empty nester who has moved interstate three years ago, I set myself some unbelievable goals! I have to tell you my sights were set on some very lofty heights. I now know that I have to simply take a deep breath and work on what I can achieve, one step at a time. I Love your boys meal. My babies(in their mid 20's) used to love boiled eggs. One other quick and easy egg meal was frittata. We would throw into a casserole dish any left over cooked veges and cover in whipped egg and milk. If there was cheese that went in too. Both kids love to cook this meal for their partners. Easy, healthy, yummy and very little washing up(bonus!).

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    1. yes a great idea with the frittata. Less effort then a quiche even. Good for a lazy dinner. Lazy dinners are my favorite thing.....

      I too have set goals that have been too high for me, so I find it best now to set simple goals. This journey is about us living our best life, not us living someone elses best life.

      And yay for the lack of washing up. i miss my dishwasher, Im looking forward to getting a new kitchen in the next stage of renos.....its getting old! hahaha!

      xx

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  6. My fall back is frozen meatballs. I make a big batch and cook in the oven and then freeze. I can grab out as many as I need. They are nice cold or hot, and can be used on their own, in sandwiches, on pasta etc.

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    1. oh yes that would be a great thing to have on hand your right! Kids love that kind of food dont they? :)

      xx

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    2. I'm going to steal that idea Jess! My kids can help make the meatballs :)

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  7. Hi Emma
    Organising yourself is definitely the key - but then trying not to be a slave to the organisation as well.
    I try to bake something for the lunchboxes (sausage rolls, spinach and cheese triangles, pizza scrolls). The spares go in to portions in the freezer for emergency days. I try to roast something big at the beginning of the week - a couple of chooks, or lamb. After one meal, I pull all the meat off the bones, make a stock for risotto and/or soup and slice the meat into 100g portions for hubby's lunchboxes and freeze for the week. The rest goes in the fridge for foraging family members. And I am a huge fan of making double/triple batches. When I freeze, I use rectangular containers, then I push the frozen block out of the container, bag it, label it and I'm not stuck with all my containers in the freezer and nowhere to put stuff.
    Also, every six months we have a 'frugal' month where we eat up the freezer and supplement with fresh veg and fruit.
    And I try to keep a supply of hard boiled eggs in the fridge for foragers!
    Hope that's helpful
    Rach xx

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    1. Thats a great tip about the containers!

      Very helpful thanks, for me and the readers who are here no doubt also. Its always good to share tips I think. :)

      Thankyou!

      xx

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