As I began learning to feed myself safely, I also gained a skill set I did not even know existed. Cooking may be something I do for myself, but it’s not really just a solo activity to feed nutrients to your body. It became empowering, therapeutic, social, romantic, and practical.
– Johanna Bond LMHC, The Huffington Post, 15 things that happen when you start making food from scratch
Preparing food from scratch is not a new thing for us Indians. It comes as an utter shock and an entire life changing experience for the species in the west who are use to start their day buying coffee from Starbucks and ending by buying some on the go food from Tacos!!
For us, preparing food from scratch is a given. Every morning fresh veggies come out of the refrigerator, fresh dough is kneaded for the rotis, fresh rice and dal are cooked in the cooker and what not!! We start our lives by learning that the entire life objective of a woman is to prepare this food from scratch and please the people around her by her culinary ingenuity.
Why is food from scratch tough?
It all looks easy and manageable after marriage, even after the honeymoon phase. The tough game starts when career aspirations come into picture, when one kid and later on two get added in the same picture. The husband has never been taught these kind of things when he is small so he just laughs at our stupidity for trying to manage everything, all the while expecting a perfect meal on the table. And we keep feeling ‘do I have to make everything from scratch’!! That may not feel like a therapeutic experience as mentioned above, it just feels like a burden.
So what do we do? How do we avoid spending too much time on things we do not want to do in the first place? I thought first it is necessary to understand our own kitchen goals and objectives, which we can do by asking few simple questions –
- How much do I like to cook? Is it my hobby or do I do it as my hobby?
- How much time do I get for cooking daily and weekly?
- Is that possible to change with the help of external help?
- Within the available time, what are my priorities (eg, cooking vegetable is a priority than you can get help making rotis)
This helped me understand how much I really wanted to be in the kitchen for what kind of work and how frequently!! Again I came across 5 mantras which helped me achieve my objectives thereby making my life simpler and happier. Here they go –
Make a meal plan for the week
This has to be absolutely detailed listing. This is the time when you can decide who likes what, which items is to be prepared when, which items can be store bought and which items to prepared at home. Try to have a good mix in case you are working full time. You can also involve your family members for some part of meal planning just to get them on board. You also need to consider guests coming in if any and any other contingencies.
Make a grocery list for the week
Let it include some ready to eat foods as well as some raw material for meals to be prepared from scratch. Make a detailed grocery list to include everything and also provide for some contingencies. Again you can turn the grocery buying into a family outing or a friends outing too.
Prep on Sundays to make your week much more comfortable
Make a list along with your meal planning and execute it properly on a Sunday. God gave us plastic tubs for this reason only. Try to prep up your week as much as possible on a Sunday when you have time to really enjoy your cooking experience.
Pitch in help from the family members
Let everybody help, in fact no harm in asking for help, especially after a long day at office. You can go ahead and make cooking into a fun activity, by adding competitions and quizzes!!
Do plan in date nights and dinner outside with your kids
Do not forget to plan date nights out with your husband and dinner outside with your kids. These help to give you the much needed break in cooking and also spend some more quality time with your family.
I thought I achieved a balance between the two after I followed these mantras. There are bound to be many surprises but still this might solve your problem of ‘making everything from scratch’ a possible reality in hectic work week!!