The amount of time it takes to cook nutritious food for a family is enormous. Add to that the time it takes to grocery shop and I can appreciate all the business ideas on how to make things easier, and faster. Grocery delivery services, organic box deliveries chock full of vegetables and fruit (I use Front Door Organics), fully cooked and prepared meals to pick up and take home (roast chicken comes to mind), and of course the various take-out options so many of us use at least occasionally.
Sometimes easier or faster does not mean cheaper though. Sure, the kids would love nothing more than to order sushi or Thai food on a regular basis but alas, that would not be budget-reliant. Nor is the high sodium content, or additives that restaurants sometimes use conducive to regular consumption, at least not for us. Still, they’re options we sometimes consider when I didn’t cook or prepare a meal.
I do use my crock-pot year round. Even if I end up bbq-ing something, the meat can precook in the crock-pot all day and the grilling only takes a few minutes. Slow-cooking ribs or other meats and vegetables in the crock-pot in the winter time is even better as the house smells wonderfully of home-cooked scents.
But I still find it kinda…endless. I love cooking, I do, it just feels so…repetitive.
Maybe it’s the winter blahs. Maybe it’s the ‘same old’ over and again.
Maybe it’s me.
I started reaching for pre-washed, pre-cut salads and veg at the store in the past year which costs slightly more money but saved me a bit of time in the washing and chopping department. As much as I love salads, the washing and chopping is so time-consuming and boring.
There. I said it. Sometimes meal prep is BORING.
Not that I don’t have time. I have all the time in the world. I just would rather do something more stimulating some of the time, you know?
Today I prepared a venison-doe roast in the crock-pot. I had some home-made onion soup which I used to cover the bottom of the cooker, then laid a few large chunks of squash and kohlrabi in before putting the seasoned roast on top. Because I didn’t get it together till 1:30 this afternoon (I had to go to the rink this morning for a class outing) I left the cooker on high heat. If I cook a roast in the crock-pot I usually cook it for 6 or more hours on low heat, but high heat works just fine, too.
Since I don’t like venison, and the kids say they do but don’t always eat it, I also made some ground beef meatballs which are currently cooking in the toaster oven. A kid has an activity tonight, another kid has a project to work on, so something quick and ready to eat will be appreciated when we return hungry and tired from the pool at 6:30 tonight.
There’s some leftover pasta someplace, and a jar of sauce from a brand I trust. Sauce with meatballs or slices of venison over pasta and some salad or chopped vegetables, and a nice glass of wine for me…done.
See? Another product I purchased prepared: pasta sauce. I used to make tomato sauces from scratch all the time…where is my will? I have all the ingredients in the house, theoretically I could make a huge crock-pot of tomato sauce and freeze it in portions…
Maybe tomorrow I’ll do that.
There are many sources of inspirational recipes around. Magazines, websites, cool blogs like Sweet Potato Chronicles, they all inspire. And I will get back to the cooking from scratch again, just as soon as I can get out of this funk. Or maybe I’ll shop at a new grocery store, just to get myself out of the house for a bit and look at different products for a change.
Pretty soon we can start seedlings and grow food again. At least that’s something to look forward to.
How do you keep yourself stimulated when cooking for the family? Do you find yourself cooking the same thing over and over again because it’s easy and everyone eats it or do you spice it up once in a while? Where do you find inspiration for your family dinners?