As a busy working mum for the last 6 years, and even before that when I was a busy career woman, I found thinking of dinners and finding inspiration for meals a daily chore, despite the fact that I loved cooking! I used to ask my husband to tell me what to make and I will cook it for him because I just didn't have the energy to think about what to make! And he always responded with the usual: "whatever you think…" - grrr!!
This is in fact what inspired me to quit my full-time job and set up Oscar and Jemima’s so that I could help other mums with lots of healthy inspiration for little cost.
In all my years of cooking I have learned a few things that really do make a difference when you’re busy and here are some of the best ones:
1. Get organized and plan your week.
It really does make a difference if you spend some time at the weekend, even half an hour writing down some dinner ideas for the week ahead (and preferably do this before you go shopping and buy loads of things you won't use :) ). This also helps to avoid adding to the guilt us mums carry at the end of the week when you're throwing way rotten food.
2. Check your fridge and cupboards.
It’s amazing what you can make from simple store cupboard and fridge ingredients – see our blog coming soon on using up loose ends - you'll be surprised what you can do with half a pot of yoghurt!
3. Have a list handy.
Keep a pen and paper in the kitchen to avoid those moments when you were making tea, realized you were low on tea bags, did another job and completely forgot to buy them next time you were shopping!
4. Shop for the week ahead - it's easier, cheaper and saves time!
Always try and shop for the week ahead to avoid unnecessary trips in and out of the supermarket. One you don’t have the time and two you end up buying even more things you don’t really need. One weekly shop can save you money, time and create less waste.
5. Use the freezer
I recently bought a second freezer. It means that I can batch cook more and save more leftovers, which also means some weeks I don’t even need to cook much as we can live on what’s in the freezer!
6. Buy a slow cooker.
Something I often did when I was feeling particularly organized, but definitely once a week, was put the ingredients for dinner in the slow cooker and put it on low all day. Walking into the house smelling of chicken and veg casserole and not having to do anything was such a relief, and the food was always yummy!
7. Buy a pressure cooker.
A new discovery for us recently and wow did we have fun playing with recipes for this! Think of all the delicious dinners that need a long time to cook – pulled pork and coleslaw baps, meltingly good beef short rib tacos and even a risotto, which was literally cooked in 5 minutes! There are so many good reasons to invest in a pressure cooker, I am even writing a blog about it with a free recipe, so keep an eye out for that one!
8. Leftovers for lunches.
When you're cooking, always plan to cook a little bit more to take for lunch the next day, and even for freezing for another meal down the line as well.
9. Get inspired…
Now this is the hardest one, but Pinterest is a great resource (just make sure you follow us here!) as well as probably the most useful tip of all….
10. Sign up to Oscar and Jemima’s :)
We will provide the inspiration, the weekly shopping list and all recipes for weeknight dinners plus give you plenty of ideas for using up any leftovers! Oh, and the food is always delicious and nutritious.