Make Friends With Your Kitchen

Make Friends With Your Kitchen
As a working mother, it can feel overwhelming having to feed my little clan. Plus I have standards darn it! Which means no takeaway and minimal processed food, because really not only is home made better for you and cheaper, a lot of the time it’s more delicious too!

Chatting to my mummy pals, basically what we all want is for meal times to be calm, simple and hopefully even enjoyable.

I have made a list for you of some hints and tips to help make your kitchen your friend. Hopefully a life long friend that you share with your family rather than a friend you only talk to because you have to.

Make Friends With Your Kitchen

1. Have a plan. Meal planning has been a huge life saver for me and my family. Huge. I started when my daughter (now 2!) started having solids. I realised I couldn’t have a panic every day at 5pm trying to figure out what we were going to have for dinner. That just ain’t sustainable. Instead, I sit down once a week and write a meal plan. I shop once a week knowing exactly what we need. To learn more about meal planning click here. To download my free meal planning printable click here.

2. Have a clear working space. This is probably the thing I struggle with the most. I love cooking and hate cleaning. However, the wise mature me has learnt that doing the dishes makes me happy. Eventually. I try to have a clean kitchen before going to bed, but failing that (some nights it is too much) then after breakfast the kitchen gets a full clean. Come crazy dinner time you’ve got clear space and all equipment is clean and ready to go.

3. Keep it simple. Yes we could all make every single thing from scratch using organic ingredients. But really. Who has the time or money? Know your limits. Don’t plan a banquet feast on a day you have something on. Allow for tired days. Buy snacks. Have an idea of your emergency family favorite meals.

4. Clean as you go. When you start cooking, fill the sink with hot soapy water. Even if you just throw things in, it will make cleaning up easier later. Plus you will have an easy way of washing your hands.

5. Share the load. I love to cook but I love that I don’t have to do it every night even more!! I am so grateful that Legoman cooks dinner twice a week (2 of my 3 workdays). He is home with our daughter those days and so meals are his job. Does he love cooking? No. Does he love us? Surely does. This has helped me not be such a control freak in the kitchen too. Don’t have a hubby? Do a bulk cook up with girlfriends or plan to have meal swaps with families close by.

I hope these simple tips help you make friends with your kitchen. Not sure what to cook for dinner tonight? Try my delicious Roast Chicken with Garlic, Sage and Thyme or perhaps my Pumpkin, Leek and Millet Oven baked Risotto.

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Baby Led Weaning Shopping List

Baby Led Weaning Shopping List Essentials

Are you new to Baby Led Weaning? Not quite sure what things to have on hand for your little one? Use this handy shopping list at your next grocery shop!

Life with little ones can be so much easier when you’re prepared. I learnt this lesson when Possum started solids. It’s basically what led me to try meal planning!

Here I was in the kitchen everyday at 5pm with a hungry tot and absolutely no idea what to feed her let alone Legoman and myself! That’s not a happy head space to be in everyday. Since then meal planning has saved our hungry tummies and tired brains many times over.

But the other little trick that worked was getting to know what foods were easy, quick and nutritious for Possum to have. I would make sure these would go on our shopping list each week so that I knew there was always something in the house Possum could eat if she wasn’t too keen on whatever it was we were eating at that meal.

Here is a shopping list of great foods for baby led weaning so that you can have a quick reference and help your day run a little smoother. Is there anything you would add? I would love to hear and I can add to the list.

  • Banana – and here is a little trick to make it easy for bub to hold: use your little finger pushed into the end of a peeled banana to split into three segments. Game changer!
  • Sweet potato – makes sweet potato wedges super easily. Cut into wedges and roast at 180°C for 30 minutes or until starting to brown.
  • Field mushrooms – possum loooooooved to demolish a roasted field mushroom for dinner. Roast at 180°, smooth side down, with some olive oil for around 20-30 minutes. Cut in half to serve.
  • Cucumber – or cubumber as Possum now calls it. Cut into sixths for easy to hold chunks. We never bothered to peel it.
  • Oats – mix 3 Tbsp oats with 3 Tbsp water in a rounded dish then microwave for 2 minutes. Easy! Comes out as a very easy to hold oat biscuit.
  • Pear – allergy friendly and easy to munch.
  • Avocado – the perfect foot for baby led weaning! So much messy fun! Cut into chunks and have the bath (and camera) ready!
  • Yoghurt – plain full fat yoghurt. Offer on a preloaded spoon or put in a bowl and embrace the mess! A great substitution for sour cream in recipes too!

Now our Possum is two! We are really pleased to have gone down the Baby Led Weaning path. It was such a fun and enjoyable way to introduce food into her world. We are due with bub #2 in August and I am certainly going to choose to do Baby Led Weaning again. You can read a bit more about our Baby Led Weaning experiences here and here.

How’s Baby Led Weaning going for our family?

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Looking for some recipes for your little one? Here are some Baby Led Weaning winners:

Meal Plan 30/3 – 5/4

SUNDAY / showers 18

Grilled Lemony Herb Chicken with Leftover Risotto and Vegetables

MONDAY / possible shower 21

Ants Climbing A Tree

TUESDAY / partly cloudy 22

Rissoles and Vegetables

WEDNESDAY / shower or two 23

Fish with Pumpkin and Silverbeet Tian

THURSDAY / shower and chance of a storm 21

Chicken Pesto Pasta

FRIDAY / shower or two 16

Spinachy Bean Burger Tacos

SATURDAY / a few showers 19

Leftover Pies

Meal Plan 22/3 – 28/3 a Meat Free Week Special!!

This week I am attempting a meat free week for my little family, to raise awareness to how much we over consume meat and how easy and delicious it can be to cut down (or out). When I told Legoman what I was doing with our meals this week his first reaction was “I think I’m working late all week….”. Doubt he will be saying that after he sees what we are actually eating. Check out this for a delicious menu!! I’m hungry already!

MONDAY / shower or two 16

Baked Cheese Ravioli with Broccoli and Spinach

TUESDAY / a few showers 16

Space Curry

WEDNESDAY / shower or two 17

Veggie Fajitas

THURSDAY / shower or two 18

Cashew Curry

FRIDAY / shower or two 19

Frittata with toast and salad

SATURDAY / no weather forecast available

Pumpkin, Tomato and Lemon Baked Risotto

Tomorrow is my first alone shopping day in a couple of weeks and boy am I looking forward to it! Who would’ve thought grocery shopping could bring so much joy. I might even go and have a coffee. On. My. Own.

A plan is a plan is a plan, Stan

Right, we are back on track….ish. We are in a new place, with piles of boxes to unpack, a kitchen for tall people and a bub who’s commando speed is similar to a slug. So with the few cookbooks I could find, I sat down and wrote my plan for this week.

SUNDAY/ cloudy, showers 19 

Roast Lamb and Veg with Bean Salad (Leon, Naturally Fast Food p.113)

MONDAY/ possible shower 19

Chicken Fajitas

TUESDAY/ partly cloudy 21

Chops, Sweet Potato Wedges and Spicy Moroccan Carrot Salad (Plenty p.14)

WEDNESDAY/ partly cloudy 24

Freezer Surprise or Leftover Challenge

THURSDAY/ shower or two 21

Paleo Salmon Cakes with salad

FRIDAY/ shower or two 20

Fish with Tamara’s Rataouille (Plenty pg 74)

SATURDAY / weather forecast not available yet…

Coconut Chicken and Petit Pois Curry (Leon, Naturally Fast Food p.97)

You probably noticed that I am using two cookbooks mainly this week. I love both of these books dearly. Looking through Plenty for the first time since having Possum, it might be a while before I can make alot of the stuff in it. It is a vegetable (not vegetarian) cookbook. And vegetables need good timing, something not always possible with a bubba. The Leon book is actually their second cookbook. The first is much better than the second in my opinion, but I love their styling and the recipes are no fuss real food, as is their store’s philosophy. If ever you make it to London, search out a Leon store, and pack me in your suitcase!

A moment to be a proud mummy. Tonight Possum had spag bol sauce for dinner. Not with a spoon. But with her own two hands. She ate a small bowl of the stuff. And the mess was so much less than expected! Hurray! My baby girl is growing up. Sigh. Smile.

With my own two hands

With my own two hands

Freezer Surprise

Ah sweet freezer surprise. You are always welcome in my home. As I sat with my baby and patted her to sleep, my mind wandered to my stomach. And to the silence coming from the kitchen meant Lego Man wasn’t cooking up a solution to my quandry. The kitchen is not the natural habitat of Lego Man. Outdoors, yes. Man Cave, yes. Office, yes. But this week was a week of no plans. No recipes on the counter. No plan on the fridge. Back to old ways. Back to eating somewhere between 8 and 9pm. Thank goodness for freezer surprise.

And behind Door Number 1………..!

Stuffed Eggplant Mousaka and Tuna Pesto Pasta. Not often freezer surprise is a two course feast. In order for the eggplant to be defrosted we did need to press “Auto cook” on the microwave about 15 times. I remembered they weren’t fab first time round so added some things that would hopefully help. Salt, pepper and cheese. It helped enough to make it much easier to eat. I thought I had a photo of the meal for you but one was really out of focus and the other my finger is taking up half the photo… this is what happends when you’re a hungry mummy!

Thank goodness tonight is planning night.

The plan and weather is looking a bit like this:

MONDAY/ rain 21 

Baked Farro Risotto with Lamb Chops and Vegetables

TUESDAY/ early shower 22

Winter Veg and Tofu Korma with brown rice and quinoa

WEDNESDAY/ partly cloudy 26

Broccoli Crunch and Salmon with brown rice and quinoa

THURSDAY/ sunny 20

Grilled Chicken Salad with pineapple, macadamias and chilli (taste Magazine Jan 2014)

FRIDAY/ partly cloudy 17

Take away, freezer surprise or BBQ

SATURDAY/ weather forecast not available yet…

Take away, freezer surprise or BBQ

Thankyou to my facebook page (just search for pea fritters) for the baked risotto idea. I was trawling one of my favourite sites, 101 cookbooks, when I saw she had a baked farro risotto. Perfect! Thursday’s chicken salad is a dish I made a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing. Will write out the recipe for you later in the week.  I’m also hoping to make a Brown Butter Spice Loaf to get us through the move. It’s spicy buttery goodness.

No scale for tonight’s dinner sorry.

Though here is a cute photo of Possum’s happy feet while she ate her dinner of Possum Love Puffs, avocado and apple. She and I had a lovely time at baby wearing yoga today.

Happy Possum Feet

Happy Possum Feet