You keep yourself and a tribe of other mini and not so mini humans alive, washed, clothed, read to etc, you shop, clean, wash, iron, walk the dog, feed the cat, clean out the guinea pigs, possibly go to work, remove the cardboard toilet roll inners and replace (because no other bugger will ever do it), do homework, mums and tots, keep the family diary up to date, organise birthday parties, make sure you kids go to the parties they are invited to, arrange dance class, swimming class, childcare if you work, juggle fire while standing on one leg and signing the national anthem….ok, only a small minority will do the last one, but you get the picture. Then, just as you have achieved all of the above you hear the dreaded cry “Mummy, what’s for dinner tonight?”
Don’t get me wrong. There is definitely a place for microwave meals and straight into the oven meals. If it weren’t for those, my family would be a lot hungrier than they are. However, I do believe in straightforward home cooked food which is healthy, nutritious and yummy. I work 3 days per week, which has me out of the house from 6.30 am to 6 pm. Therefore, Monday is my cooking day. It’s the day that I try and throw together 3 or 4 homemade dinners for the week. I have 7 people to feed at every meal, so this is no small undertaking. I do achieve it, but that’s because I CHEAT! (Don’t tell anyone!)
It makes me sad when I hear people say that they just don’t have time to cook. If you want to eat ready meals, knock yourself out. However, if you want to cook at home, but feel you don’t have time, stop juggling fire while standing on one leg and singing the national anthem, and try out my series of Cooking for Mummies.
Recipe 1 -Braised Steak/Irish Stew
Serves around 8 people factoring in kids. Freezes. You can easily multiply up and make more.
Any ingredient with a star next to it is a basic cheats staple. You should aim to always have these in, as with them, you can make pretty much anything.
1 bag of ready chopped onions
2 packets of chopped braising steak (for an authentic Irish stew, use lamb)
2 teaspoons of Lazy pre-chopped garlic (comes in a jar)*
1 bag of carrot batons
1 bag of baby potatoes (optional but turns it into an Irish stew)
2 Knor extra rich beef stockpots*
2 beef oxo cubes*
Bistro gravy granules*
A dash of Soy Sauce*
Fry the pre-chopped onions and garlic in a dash of olive oil in a large saucepan for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the beef and a kettle full of boiling water and bring to the boil, then lower to a simmer with the lid on.
Chop the carrot batons in half and add along with the potatoes if you want to make a stew.
Add the stock pots and oxo cubes, cover and leave simmering for around 3 hours.
You don’t need to stir it, poke it or prod it (although you can if it makes you feel more Cheffy). Just leave it and get on with all the other billions of parental crap you need to do. After about 3 hours, give it a stir, add a dash of soy sauce, and thicken using the gravy granules. If you are feeling really flash, you can add a tin of chopped tomatoes.
All of the above can be done with a twin clinging to either leg, and a third child on one hip with a fourth demanding Netflix and a cat asking to be fed. The kids absolutely love it, and it’s nice and healthy.
While it might seem an extravagance buying things like ready chopped onions and carrot batons when onions and carrots are much cheaper, in the end it works out cheaper than microwave meals.