I’m often asked how I manage to cook a meal from scratch each and every day after running after two very young and active little boys. My answer is simple; it’s my job. I, as the stay-at-home parent, am responsible for the home. That’s not to say my husband does nothing to help out at home. He actually helps out quite a bit. He probably helps more than your average husband. But, I find that since I am not contributing financially to our household, I take primary responsibility for the care of the home. And that includes meals.
Fresh, homemade meals are important to me. I do what I can to avoid processed foods, so most of my cooking is from scratch. This means no pasta sauce from jars, no boxed rice mixes, no muffins from mixes, no canned soups, and so on. Cooking in this way is time consuming, but totally worth it in my opinion.
Now, back to the question; how do you manage to cook from scratch every night? Actually, I cook several meals from scratch each day. My biggest tip:
Start with a clean kitchen.
Yes, it is as simple as that. If you have a sink full of dishes and messy counter tops, you will less likely cook from scratch. It is a psychological thing, at least for me. If my kitchen is dirty, I just don’t feel like cooking. Not cooking is not an option, so I always make sure that my kitchen is in good order.
Empty the dishwasher and put the dishes away. That way, as you dirty up pots, pans, and mixing bowls, you can stick them in the dishwasher as you go. Better yet, wash those dishes and put them away as you cook. Save the dishwasher for the dinner dishes.
Clear off your counter tops of any clutter that isn’t necessary for cooking your meal. My biggest issue is keeping mail, school projects, and other paper clutter organized and off my counters. Once that is gone, I feel better about getting started with my meal.
I almost always mise en place. Mise en place means “to put in place”. I learned of this concept several years ago while listening to a chef discuss kitchen organizing. To mise en place means that you set out all of your ingredients before you begin cooking. For me, this is especially helpful when baking. I have my flour, baking powder, sugar, and other ingredients I will need for a particular recipe, along with all of my measuring tools, set out on my counter. This allows me to have everything ready so I don’t have to run all over my kitchen looking for ingredients.
Sweep the floor. I know it seems strange, but I can not cook if my floors look messy. Chances are, I will be making a mess on them while cooking. But, it’s one of the things that I have to do before I can cook. I’m weird, I know.
So there you have it. It sounds like a lot of work just to cook a meal, but believe me when I say that starting out with a clean kitchen makes getting your meal on the table much easier. And, if you can get your husband to do the dinner dishes, then that’s just a bonus!