There are a hundred things on your to-do list. Not even exaggerating! The last thing you feel like doing is cooking (from scratch) some elaborate meal, requiring 12 different appliances, and 32 different ingredients… That you were supposed to start preparing yesterday. You may not have even had the time to get to the shop. And the only thing left in your pantry is a jar of pasta sauce and a can of tuna. I 100% feel you!
You can just feel so …rushed. It is no wonder that we have been raised with canned spaghetti on toast and frozen pies. That is so easy and quick, the kids eat it and its another job done! I’m not going to go into the nutritional value of convenience foods. I think its pretty likely anyone reading this blog knows what I mean. Simply put, its usually rubbish. Also, I don’t think we should beat ourselves up for wanting a quick, easy meal. I am not one of those people that like to spend hours in the kitchen preparing glorious eat-your-heart-out-Master-Chef kind of meals. And, in this instance, I think I’d consider myself to be pretty normal. On those occasions when I have put in an immense effort to prep something fancy and different for my family, do you think they would eat it? No. They would look upon it in weird, fascinated, wonder while dissecting out the familiar bits, and then make toast.
Having said that, we (particularly parents) have this guilt thing when it comes to the food we eat and feed our children. Parents have enough guilt thrust upon them. So rather then adding to it I think it is worth changing our perspective and cut ourselves some slack. Convenience food, its really just a way of saying ‘easy and edible’, nothing wrong with that! So before you guilt yourself into throwing out every packet product and driving yourself crazy wrangling up three meals a day out of whatever is left, consider the following things.
- Simple basic meals that everyone loves (like the classic spaghetti or a version of a cacciatore), can be made pretty simply with a few pantry basics. Keep them on hand for a quick thrown together meals in minutes.
- The lessor of two evils. When you aren’t rushed look at the labels for the best choice. There are even some great lunch box snacks that you can pack without guilt, it is worth taking a look at the ingredients lists. Watch for sugar and salt content and go for the healthiest choice.
- If the thought of meal prepping doesn’t turn you off, spend an afternoon (or whenever) putting together some defrostable meals. You will be so glad you did. Its a give-yourself-a-high-five moment when you open the freezer and it is stocked with ‘ready to go’ meals, on a night when you have nothing left in the energy reserves.
- Break the rules. Breakfast is perfectly ok to have at dinner sometimes. Eggs, fruit and nuts, whole grain toast, whatever. As the adult you get to make the rules! Woo! Its the big picture, not the timing after all.
- Got a few packet mixes, pre-made sauces, jars of this and that. Of course you do! Throw in whatever frozen or fresh veggies you have available and you have just improved it!
- Don’t cook. Cold food is fine too. Salads and cold leftover, cooked meat. Done.
- There is a reason the Four Ingredient Cook Books are popular. Familiarise yourself with a few favourites and change it up occasionally for interest. Four ingredients! Makes the pantry look less empty doesn’t it! (No affiliation, just a fan).
- In the slow cooker we trust. Throw it in, walk away, hours later dinner is done. Love it! Requires some thinking ahead, but not much effort. Some of the best comfort foods come from a slow cooker.
- Tired, feet hurt, nothing in the fridge… order the pizza. You don’t have to be perfect. Food is supposed to be enjoyable. Sit around and talk to your family and enjoy a night off. You deserve it.
There are numerous ways to keep food simply delicious. Simple being the key, and simple is my style! I don’t like anything in life being overly complicated, as so many things seem to be these days. So toss out that guilt and maybe just change things up a bit. You CAN have it easy in the kitchen and be healthy.
Have you got any favourites for those put-it-together-quick nights? Please share I’d love to learn new ideas!
Here are a few simple & quick ideas: