The words I regularly hear to describe cooking for the family include “chore”, “boring”, “difficult”, “time-consuming”, “uninspiring”, “pressured”. It's got me thinking about why I don’t use any of those words when I think about what’s for dinner and the fact that I’ll be making it.
With the word “nutrition” in my job title you could easily guess that I’m pretty passionate about food. But for me, meal production is more than that.
It’s making conscious choices about nourishing myself so I fire on all cylinders now and into my next phase of life; it’s about providing the best possible building blocks for my kids to grow strong, healthy bodies and minds; it’s about appreciating the interconnectedness of the earth, its resources and the circle of life; it’s about the joy and promise and hope that comes naturally when our body functions with full strength and vigor.
Sounds a bit wacky maybe, but those are the bigger picture thoughts that mean I’m not stuck in the drudgery of the task.
And when I get off my rainbow-light infused cloud where I sit with those thoughts and stretch my legs from the lotus position in order to stand at the kitchen bench 😉, there are some things I really love using to streamline the family dinner-creation process and make cooking fun.
1. A deep sided pan that can be used on the stove top and in the oven
I cannot stress enough how using a good pan brings joy to cooking. The food slips around and sizzles in just the right way - there’s no sticking and burning and fighting to get it all browned at the same time. Being able to transition from the stove to the oven without any faffing about with another dish is awesome for time-tight meal production and the washing up!
2. A sharp knife
Something that allows you to cut an onion without slipping down the side of it to include your fingertips in the meal. This might seem pretty obvious but a sharp knife makes the business of cutting things much quicker! And for some reason we all have a tendency to suffer with blunt knives and curse how long it takes us to chop a carrot.
Taking a bit of time to sharpen your kitchen knives definitely brings ease to the whole cooking process.
3. A mezzaluna
Also known as a moon knife. Not only does owning one of these make you look like an Italian chef but it allows you to get right into the use of fresh herbs so you cook like one too.
Herbs are absolute powerhouses and fresh is definitely the way to go as much as you can. If you’re interested in being a healthy parent raising healthy kids then you need to be using herbs on a regular basis! [read my blog about good herbs to begin with]
4. My Alexa speaker
Here's where I channel my inner Mary Poppins
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap! The job's a game”
I find that access to great tunes while I make the evening meal really helps to get me out of my day and into the food. It’s the one time I usually get to listen to the music I like (I have instigated a house rule that anyone can choose the music as long as they’re also prepared to make the meal 😍) Chopping and stirring to a rhythm certainly makes the whole thing feel less like a grind and more like an expression of self!
I also use Alexa’s more utilitarian functions to set timers, convert units of measure and add things to the shopping list as I go along, all of which are pretty handy to streamline the dinner production process. And if you’re not feeling like cutting your onions in 4/4 time then ask her to tell you a joke - she’s got some good ones!
5. My kids!
I love the fact that my kids find the kitchen a great place to be. Being encouraged to help in the kitchen has been a key way that they’ve built an appreciation of food in all its variety (and been made aware that dinner does not appear by magic). Giving them tasks that they can manage creates a sense of self-respect and worth in them and greatly aids me in getting the dinner on the table.
And fundamentally, having them there is a very visual reminder about why I do what I do - because they are the future and I want it to be bright!
Looking for some practical tips to improve your energy, mood and well-being and bring your family along for the ride? Download my free guide to get the diet and lifestyle secrets of calm, energetic mums who look great too!