Hey everyone, guess what? I have my very first guest poster today! I am so excited that Belinda from Better than Busy agreed to write this post and allow me to publicize it because she was one of the very first blogging friends I made. She generally writes about mums (my US brain finds writing mum instead of mom surprisingly satisfying) finding balance in their crazy hectic lives. Although I am not a mom, of course I relate a lot to what she writes about! So do me a favor and read her post about her kitchen routine to save money and time and then go check her out! She has a ton of good stuff on simplifying your life and overcoming perfection.
Time and money (and patience!) are all in pretty short supply in my house.
My family consists of my husband, who works full time, myself, who works 3-4 days a week, our 4 year old daughter, 2 year old son and a crazy dog who probably doesn’t get anywhere near enough exercise.
On the days that I work we leave home at 7.30 in the morning to drop off the kids at daycare and we don’t get home until about 5.30 pm. Dinner time is around 5.45 at our house and the kids start getting ready for bed at 7. Let’s say that weekdays are hectic and time is limited.
Everyone has areas of their life where they are prepared to cut corners. For me it’s housework. But when it comes to food, I don’t let things slide too far. We don’t really eat takeaway for health and financial reasons, but I also find that if I’m organised, it’s not necessary anyway.
I started investing in quality kitchen appliances a few years ago and it has paid off in spades for me
I have a blender/slicer/grater that I use ALL the time. If I’m making a dish like quiche I can grate up mountains of cheese and carrot super quick. My kids also like to press the buttons on the blender, so it also entertains the kids. As an aside – if you can get the kids to help with something like the blender and mixing they will probably eat the end result and you’ve just saved yourself time and sanity right there my friend.
I also invested in a huge slow cooker and casserole dish a few years ago. I make big batches of casserole and freeze portions.
On weekends I cook every day – no matter how much food is in the fridge and I make a big batch. This means we have at least 2 different meals in the fridge and we live on that the for the first few nights of the week. I try to throw some vegetables in the steamer for a fresh side or make a little salad with a bit of rocket (arugula) and parmesan cheese – super easy. These little sides give us grown ups a change from the stodgy carbs and casseroles and also make the main meal go a little further.
Once the leftovers run out, I have some frozen meals in the freezer or pasta with an easy sauce. I really don’t cook much during the week!
In our house, we all get home at the same time on work days, so one parent baths the kids whilst the other one gets busy in the kitchen, finishing the breakfast cleanup (which sadly doesn’t often happen in the morning, it mainly just gets thrown in the sink. Literally thrown if its by the kids!) and microwaving the dinner. It’s like a machine at our house after work – a noisy, tantrum throwing, chaotic and crazy machine (the kind of machine that I wouldn’t buy quite frankly!)
My main tips for saving time and money in the kitchen as a busy working mum are:
- Invest in the right gear – it might cost a little more up front, but it will pay for itself. Dishwasher, chopper, slow cooker -these guys keep me sane and save me so much time. They are also a money saver because we don’t have to buy takeaway.
- You need a slow cooker – My big slow cooker gets used every week. Slow cookers are great because you can use cheap cuts of meet and they come out lovely and tender. They also cook big batches. Mine was a little bit more expensive, but it is big and switches to warm mode when the time is up, so I can put it on before I go to work or before I go to bed. Genius!
- Work out the best days or times to do your shopping. I have worked out that the supermarket near my office regularly has half price meats on Monday because it’s in the CBD and there are no office workers around on the weekend. I rarely buy meat from anywhere else. Every Monday I take a walk down to the supermarket by my half priced meats, stick them in the freezer and then plan the next week’s food. I don’t necessarily have a lot of choice, because I just buy whatever is reduced, but because I do it every week there is usually an assortment of meat in the freezer so I’m not completely restricted by what’s on sale that week.
- Plan your meals and cook up big-time on the weekend.
- Take notice of what gets thrown out. I realised we were always throwing cauliflower out. Now I freeze some whenever I buy it so it doesn’t get wasted. Frozen cauliflower is fine for the slow cooker.
- Keep your staples in the pantry. I have a couple of easy go to meals that I always keep the ingredients in the pantry. If those ingredients are on special and they aren’t perishables, I buy extras because I know they will always get used. Those items go straight back on the shopping list when they get used. These dishes are quick and easy – so we don’t get tempted to buy takeaway.
I’m sure there are many, many more ways to save time and money in the kitchen, but these are my big ones.