Some of you know that I used to really enjoy cooking. I say "used to" because cooking is no longer the leisure activity it once was for me. This is one of the many new realities of life with baby. Unless I wait till 6 to start dinner when Jeff gets home, I'm juggling dinner prep and a hungry Evan and that really takes the fun out of cooking. These days I just want to get something on the table fast so we can eat and get on with our evening. I also don't go to the grocery store as much as I used to, but we always get a Super Target trip in once/week. So, we end up having a kitchen full of "convenience" food and nothing fresh to cook with even if I wanted to. And to top it off, if a microwave pizza isn't bad enough...we also "pick up" dinner way too often.
A couple weeks ago, I decided I'd had enough of this unhealthy cycle we'd gotten into and I was determined to return to my love of cooking. This is the plan I developed: I plan out meals for Mon, Tues, and Thurs with Tues being a crockpot meal. Plus I try to find as many overlapping ingredients as I can. I go to Marsh on Monday or over the weekend and stock up with everything I need to make the week's meals. Then I try to consolidate or make/prep ahead wherever possible. For example, last week Mon and Tuesday meals were chicken so I made all the chix for both on Monday. Tonight's side dish was roasted vegetables which I cut last night while I was already making dinner and then the leftovers will be used in a chix pasta salad for Thursday night.
I can't say that I completely love cooking again and I definitely don't attempt the "gourmet" meals I used to, but I'm happy with these small strides. It's amazing how important routines are when you have a baby. This new cooking routine has done wonders to make this time less stressful for me and that makes all the difference!