Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cooking, A.B. (after baby)

Figuring out how to keep 2 parents and a baby well fed is an ongoing project.  Cooking gets a lot harder when one or both parents may not come home from work/school till 7 pm, and baby is liable to demand nursing, diaper changes, or play time at a moment's notice.  Here are a few things we've come up with that have helped; I would love to hear other suggestions in the comments.

One way to get things done in the kitchen

Our grocery shopping routine:

Well before baby arrived, we had settled into a weekend routine of going to the farmer's market for our produce and then stopping in next door at Trader Joe's for everything else.  We've kept this up now that we're a family of 3, although we don't always go together anymore.  That said, now that our daughter is 6 months old, it's pretty fun to take her to the market--she likes looking at people, and we can hand her vegetables and fruit to play with.


I have hot oatmeal with fruit every morning.  I just realized out that I can make a huge batch of Irish oatmeal on the weekends, and reheat a small amount with added milk every morning.  Saves both cooking time and pot-washing time.  Bonus:  baby eats the oatmeal and fruit, too!


Mostly, I've gotten a lot less picky about what I have for lunch ever since having a baby (actually, for the first few months, finding the time to have lunch at all was a total bonus).  I will eat the same leftovers for days on end.  No left-overs?   Frozen Chinese dumplings were a staple at the beginning, and in a pinch, there's always PB&J with a glass of milk.  I try to make up for the dearth of vegetables in those "in a pinch" meals by snacking on fruit & cut up veggies.


For the first few months:  slow cookers for stocking the freezer are great.  Focusing on making just one home-made dish and using ready-made other dishes can be helpful (e.g., make a salad, and serve with store-bought pasta & sauce, or saute some fish, and serve with a store-bought salad and some crusty bread).  Cooking in larger quantities is of course a good idea, so that there are left-overs--but those of you who know my husband know that this is a tricky proposition, since the amount he eats for dinner increases in direct proportion to how much we cook.  

Once you've settled into new parenthood:  I know that some people like to plan the meals for the week ahead...ahead of time.  For some reason, this never works out for me.  It usually results in me optimistically buying lots of root vegetables that I never use.  What has worked?  Instead of planning specific dishes, we've started to settle into a routine of having certain categories of meal every week.  So, basically every week, we make pizza one night (usually Sunday), a few Chinese stir-frys one night, some kind of pasta dish one night, and a roasted meat/potatoes/veggie dish one night.  And that pretty much covers us, with left-overs in between and eating out about once a week.  This way, there's some room for improvisation (will I use the shiitake mushrooms for a stir-fry?  Or a tomato sauce?   Oh, the suspense)!, but also lets us know roughly how much food to buy at the Sunday market, so we don't waste as much.

My best tip, though? Get a sous-chef.  It's really really nice to have a third pair of hands once in a while.  Preferably belonging to someone who likes tidying up (hi, Mom)!   My mother stayed with us for the past 10 days, and it was really fun to be able to make some slightly more elaborate meals, with her cleaning the pots and pans as I dirtied them, while my husband and I traded off cooking and watching the baby.  I came up with a great new way to prepare brussels sprouts, if you happen to have a terrific food processor:

1-Wash brussels sprouts and chop off the coarse stem
2- Use the slicing--not the shredding--disc to prepare the brussels sprouts.
3- Saute in olive oil with minced garlic, chopped shallots, and sliced prosciutto
4- Um, that's it.  Pretty short recipe, but it's delicious!

Petits choux!

The sous-chef...aka Bubbe!

No comments:

Post a Comment